As you start the car, you do another little self-assessment; you glance in the mirror, tug your eyelids - not too red - you're not buzzed at all (just a little tired) and off you go. Home is only 5 minutes away on side streets. No problem.
Moments later, the red and blue lights in your rearview mirror come as a terrifying surprise because you did not know you had a tail-light out or that your turn-signal was broken or that the light for your license plate was out, or whatever.
Suddenly your heart is pounding in an otherwise empty chest and scenarios run through your mind too quickly to contemplate. Your fingers and hands feel very weak as you roll down the window. Please let it be a cop I know...it's not, you don't really know any cops.
Asking for your license and registration becomes mere formality when he smells the faint "odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from your breath and person." (that's how he will write it in the report.) "Have you had anything to drink tonight?"
That balloon is quickly burst when he asks you to step out of the car. You quickly play the rest of the cards in your imaginary deck, before he initiates sobriety tests. Of course he is unfazed by any of the names you drop, where you work, or who you know and he is not the least bit interested in the fact that your best friend's brother's neighbor is a sergeant in a police department three states away.
Things get worse when you figure out that the sobriety tests, which are totally optional in California, do not differentiate between fear and intoxication. Before you know it, you are handcuffed, your car is being towed, and you are headed for fingerprinting, photographing, and an overnight stay with some new friends -- some, perhaps, more interested in you than others.
Oh, by the way, the chemical blood-alcohol test is 0.09, just barely above the legal limit in California. But, before you get too excited, the mathematics on a 0.09 an hour or so after the arrest equals a significantly higher level at the time of driving.
The next morning, you are released either on bail or on your own promise to appear for your court hearing. Once out, you either pay the $300-$500 to get your car out of impound or you leave it there to rack up additional $99+ per day fees. You search for lawyers on the Internet, but none answer on a Sunday (except me - I answer every day) and when you do get through you see that attorney's fees will run anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000 or more and that defense attorney's don't like payment plans.
Then, you see they have taken your driver's license and replaced it with a suspension slip/temporary license and, in California, you have only 10 days to request a hearing from the DMV to try and avoid having your license suspended beyond the absolute minimum of 30 days.
Then there is your employer. You get to tell the people who pay your salary that you are a very poor decision-maker. But you can't tell them about the case because your Lawyer told you not to discuss the case; your employer demands an explanation or you will face discipline.
Assuming there are no loopholes through which to get out from under this nightmare, you are stuck.
When all is said and done, not paying for that cab ride you couldn't afford will have cost you a night in jail, a suspended driver's license, employer discipline, a damaged reputation, and roughly $7,000 or more in fees and fines and other related expenses. Oh, and the DUI, that stays on your record in California for about ten years.
So, what was that about not being able to afford a cab? Taxi!!!