Tag Archives: Drunk driving

Anti-Littering Request Draws Blacktip Residents’ Ire

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Blacktip Island’s police constable hopes his request to keep empty beer bottles in cars will reduce the number of empties littering the island’s roadways. (photo courtesy of Santeri Viimanäki)

A public plea from Blacktip Island’s police constable asking motorists to refrain from throwing empty beer bottles out their car windows brought angry responses from many residents of the small Caribbean island Thursday.

“Community leaders were unhappy about all the discarded bottles along Blacktip’s roads,” Marquette said. “Tourists were mentioning it on the internet, so the Chamber of Commerce asked me to step in. It’s a simple request at this point.

Some residents complained the constable’s plea sent the wrong message.

“This is the police giving the green light to anyone who wants to drive under the influence,” resident Bill Fischer said. “Like Blacktip drivers need any encouragement. Rafe just threw gas on a bonfire.”

Marquette defended his request.

“Sure, I’d love to crack down on drinking and driving, but you have to be realistic,” he said. “This is Blacktip. I can’t arrest the entire island. Keep your car out of the pond and don’t run into anything or anyone, and there’s wiggle room.”

Other residents say the plea is too shortsighted.

“Where do beer cans fall in all this?” Jessie Catahoula said. “Why just bottles? A ban on all litter on the roads would accomplish a lot more. And how does Rafe know he can’t arrest everyone on the island if he hasn’t tried?”

Blacktip motorists bristled at the constable’s request.

“Rafe’s got no right telling us what to keep in our cars,” Antonio Fletcher said. “You don’t throw the empties out, they clatter around and drown out the music.

“And besides, bottles along the road makes driving safer,” Fletcher said. “Headlights hit those bottles, it makes a glow, like runway lights. Keeps you out of the ditches. Mostly.”

Island officials, however, praised the plan.

“This makes the island more idyllic for visitors,” Blacktip Island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Safety comes later. We’re taking baby steps here.

“And keeping bottles in cars does enhance safety. It keeps people from being hit by them,” Cobia said. “Last Saturday Dermott chucked a bottle that broke on my head. Later he said it was a mistake, but he sure did laugh at the time.”

Marquette stressed the program is voluntary.

“Folks need to work with me on this,” he said. “If the problem persists, the next step will be issuing littering citations. After that, we may have send for more constables from the big island, and they won’t be so understanding of Blacktip ways. It’ll rain DWIs.”

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Drinking Advocates Stage Blacktip Island-Wide Drunk Driving Race

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Both Blacktip Island’s roads will be cleared of non-essential traffic Saturday for the inaugural Rat-Faced Road Rally drunk driving race around the Caribbean island’s coastal road. (photo courtesy of Rosie Blenny/DAMM)

The Blacktip Island Chapter of the drinking-advocacy group Drunks Against Mad Mothers will sponsor the inaugural Rat-Faced Road Rally impaired driving contest Saturday to raise money for multiple community organizations.

“People get drunk and drive no matter what, so why not let them get it out of their systems in a controlled manner?” DAMM president Jack Cobia said. “This makes sure it’s properly supervised, it serves as a cautionary demonstration and raises money for charity at the same time.

“We’ll block both roads to non-participants,” Cobia said. “The only people out there’ll be the drivers, and they’ll be swaddled in bubble wrap. We’ll also have beaters to make sure the roads are clear of iguanas and other wildlife. And spectators.”

Organizers say money raised will go to the island’s Salvation Army and Alcoholics Anonymous.

“People pledge a dollar amount for each mile a driver completes without wrecking their car,” DAMM treasurer Rosie Blenny said. “Off-road mileage, intentional or otherwise, won’t count.

“The winner’ll be the one who completes the most laps around the island and stays conscious,” Blenny said. “There’s also degree-of-difficulty points assigned to each driver, based on estimated alcohol tolerance. Dermott doesn’t even feel his first three beers, and a half case for Gage Hoase is like a six pack for anyone else.”

Participants are eager to compete.

“Celebrates a long-standing Blacktip Island tradition’s what it does,” James Conlee said. “Daddy did it. Granddaddy did it. Great-Granddaddy did on horseback. Now I’m gonna win it.

“I been practicing drinking and driving for weeks now, polishing my skills,” Conlee said. “A little proficiency driving never hurt anyone, you know. Tore up a fender or two, and maybe a tree, but never hurt anyone.”

Island officials say the event will also serve as a public safety demonstration.

“Folks see one of these yahoos slam into a tree, they’ll think twice about drink-driving,” Department of Public Works chief Stoney MacAdam said. “And the money raised will more than offset any damage they do.

“There’ll also be DPW-administered betting grids for how much alcohol each driver consumes versus how much distance they cover,” MacAdam said. “Proceeds from that are earmarked for driving safety courses and reflective road signage.”

Some, however, worry the event sends the wrong message.

“Making light of drunk driving doesn’t help, no matter what lessons are taught or what sort of funds are raised,” island nurse Marissa Bass said. “It encourages it, really. I have a couple of Cessna owners on standby to airlift idiots off island when they drive into ditches or each other.

“I also have $25 on Dermott, but that’s just common sense,” Bass said. “I’m safety conscious, not stupid.”

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Pedestrian Bridge To Protect Blacktip Island Drunks

drunk overpass

One of multiple chutes erected outside Blacktip Island’s Sand Spit bar to funnel drunken bar patrons onto a pedestrian overpass over the island’s road. (photo courtesy of Dash Goby)

A Blacktip Island bar owner, concerned about a spate of near-accidents outside the Sand Spit bar, this week installed a pedestrians-only overpass to get drunk patrons to their vehicles safely.

“Customers were getting clipped crossing the road, walking into passing cars, you name it,” Sand Spit owner Dash Goby said. “Our customers get run over, we’ll be out of business in no time. I had to do something.

“The answer was a footbridge over the road, like those wildlife crossing over highways,” Goby said. “A bunch of waist-high walls funnel people from the bar doors out to the bridge, then over to the car park. We tried a tunnel a few years back, but people kept going in there and passing out. And peeing. And barfing. It made things worse, really.”

Sand Spit patrons applauded the move.

“You don’t even notice you’re using it,” James Conlee said. “It slopes up, then back down so gentle you don’t know if it’s a bridge or what you’ve been drinking.

“Got eight-foot-high walls up top, so you can’t fall off, and they’re slick, so they don’t scuff you up so bad,” Conlee said. “And there’s lights every 20 feet so you don’t get lost. Stagger out the bar, and next thing you know, you’re at your car.”

The overpass has alarmed others in the community.

“How about not letting drunks drive?” Lucille Ray said. “Maybe take their car keys, or, I don’t know, don’t over serve them. It’s already not safe to be on the road after dark, and here’s Dash making matters worse.”

Goby was quick to defend the overpass.

“I’m keeping people alive and safe, period,” he said. “What they do across the road is their business. Hell, most of them pass out in their cars anyway.

“And on Blacktip everyone leaves their keys in the ignition,” Goby said. “People on this island drink. A lot. I can’t change that. I’m just helping them do it safely.”

The island’s police had mixed feelings about the overpass.

“It’s not adding to the drunk driving problem. These people are going to do that anyway, bridge or no,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “If it keeps drunks from being hit by cars, that’s a good thing.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Marquette said. “This is a ‘when a donkey flies, you don’t fault it for not staying up too long’ situation. And I’m working with Dash on building similar chutes to funnel drunk drivers to the police station. Or at least away from the booby pond. There’s been way too many one-car accidents lately.”

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Drunks Against Mad Mothers Launches Blacktip Island Chapter

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Blacktip Island’s drinkers have banded together to form a chapter of Drunks Against Mad Mothers in response to a grassroots campaign to curb drinking on the island. (photo courtesy of Dermott Bottoms)

The international alcohol-rights group Drunks Against Mad Mothers (DAMM) announced Thursday it had established its newest chapter on Blacktip Island to protect the drinking habits of the Caribbean island’s residents.

“Lots of folks criticizing, trying to close bars early and stop liquor sales,” said DAMM chapter president Dermott Bottoms. “But we got a right to drink as much as we want, so long as no one gets hurt too badly.

“This’s a drinking island, you know,” Bottoms said. “You don’t hold with drinking, go somewhere else. We were gonna strike, then ‘Tonio found out about DAMM.”

Other DAMM members agreed.

“We’re not the bad guys. And we were here first,” DAMM vice president James Conlee said. “This’s us protecting ourselves against the tyranny of the masses. And the Baptists. International drunks got our backs now. We’re an organization.”

The chapter was founded after a campaign to curb the island’s often-excessive drinking culture.

“People on Blacktip get hammered,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “It’s pretty much the Island sport, and mostly it gets a pass. But there was a string of single-vehicle accidents in front of resorts, tourists freaked out and it got ugly on TripAdvisor.

“It would’ve blown over, but then Dermott and Antonio both dropped trou at the Prime Minister’s welcoming cocktail soiree,” Diesel said. “Next thing you know, there’s a push to get everyone on the wagon.”

Island leaders say they sought a compromise with local drinkers.

“We weren’t proposing an all-out alcohol ban,” said the Reverend Pierre Grunt, Blacktip Island Temperance Society president. “The aim was to rachet consumption back to reasonable, non-embarrassing levels and enforce public drunkenness laws. We were making progress, too, before they came up with this DAMM nonsense.

“Case in point, this past Sunday morning Dermott and James both came to church,” Grunt said. “That was huge. Of course, I wish they’d been sober. And that Dermot hadn’t fallen asleep. And snored. I won’t discuss James’ flatulence.”

Island law enforcement, meanwhile, has stayed above the fray.

“I can’t arrest every public drunk,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Fridays and Saturdays, I’d have to arrest most of the island. And I only have the one cell.

“Drunk drivers will still be arrested,” Marquette said. “But there’s only one of me, and lots of them. My advice, as ever, is not to drive if you’ve consumed alcohol. But when you do, please avoid trees, pedestrians and the booby pond.”

DAMM members say they hope to change the public perception of them as irresponsible alcoholics.

“It’s not right, folks calling us alcoholics,” Bottoms said. “We’re not alcoholics. Alcoholics go to meetings. We’re drunks. We go to parties.”

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