dui dad
November 14, 2005 12:08 PM   Subscribe

I need help from a Chicago cop to arrest my Dad for a DUI...

You see, my dad is destroying our family.
Help is nowhere, he thinks he is the victim and blames everyone else.
No Doctors, programs or meds have ever helped.
THE ONLY thing that gets his attention is shame. It has to be from a seperate, third-party though. Like an arresting cop.
He doesn't care about the shame we in the family give him, in fact, it fuels his rage and bitterness towards all of his family.

This addiction has had a grip on him for 30+ years.
I think getting arrested for dui would be a great start towards sobriety.
He drives drunk all over Chicago every other day and will kill someone soon by continuing to do so.
How can he be caught?
posted by phredhead to Grab Bag (68 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
can't you just call the CPD and report "a drunk driver" when you know he's headed out, and give them the location and destination, etc?
posted by kcm at 12:09 PM on November 14, 2005

I think you should contact Al-Anon/Alateen and ask them for help with your situation. Trying to get a loved one arrested is a drastic step, to say the least.
posted by grouse at 12:12 PM on November 14, 2005

kcm -
problem is:
#1 - since he's in motion the cops cant find him
#2 - I never know where he's actually headed or when he's en route to come home.
posted by phredhead at 12:12 PM on November 14, 2005

Oh, this seems like a VERY BAD IDEA to me. There are a myriad of ways that this could go radically, perhaps even tragically, wrong--despite your intentions.
posted by Morrigan at 12:18 PM on November 14, 2005

Phredhead, if you think he's destroying the family now, just wait to see what the family response is when it's known you set him up for a DUI charge. Sure, report what he's doing to the cops but don't look for elaborate ways to catch him or rat him out. Do what you can within reason then find ways to cope as a family.
posted by Happydaz at 12:18 PM on November 14, 2005

I don't think reporting a drunk driver is drastic.

I think calling 911 when you know him to be on the road and providing the description of the car and license plate number is all you can do. People report drunk drivers all the time, and these cars are obviously in motion. Often, if not usually, their destination is unknown. When he leaves the house drunk in the car, dial 911.

Be sure that you know he's intoxicated when you call. If you call and it happens to be the one time he's not drunk you could well get into trouble yourself. Furthermore you would be branded "the boy who cried wolf" and have future reports ignored as a result.
posted by duck at 12:21 PM on November 14, 2005

And yes, contact al-anon.
posted by duck at 12:22 PM on November 14, 2005

how about just calling the police and asking them, saying he's a chronic DUI driver, and see what they say...and if they require an official report, find out if they will do so anonymously...i'm more for doing that not primarily as a way of dealing with the family issue, but the larger issue of getting a dangerous person off the street...waiting until he's actually on the road and driving to make a report could be too late for somebody...

...many places will suspend someone's license if the person is reported to have a medical condition that would inhibit their abilities...there might be a similar mechanism for someone who is known to drive drunk...
posted by troybob at 12:24 PM on November 14, 2005

This man views al-anon as a joke.
Spending 6-10 hours in the local pokey would definitely shock him. The humiliation of having to get bailed out, then honor a court date would be great for him

The family is as abused as I am. We're all sick of this.
It has to stop.
I don't want to set him up, I just want him arrested before he runs over someone.
posted by phredhead at 12:28 PM on November 14, 2005

This man views al-anon as a joke.

Al-anon isn't for the alcoholic, it's for you.
posted by duck at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2005

I think getting arrested for dui would be a great start towards sobriety.

Well, I think you're wrong. Adding stress from an external source to a person who is already TOTALLY FAILING to cope with his life? That may not have the effect you desire.

Stop and think whether imprisonment, loss of driving privilege, and tens of thousands of dollars in bills is going to help re-integrate your family the way you want it to, before you proceed. Will it magically transform your father into a happy, sober person? Will it heal years of past wounds? Well, think about it. If you got thrown into jail and had to fork over $10K, would it make you a better person? No. It'd make you an unhappy person. With regard to your father, it'll make him an unhappy drunk.

Many cops will come to the home of a drunk person who is behaving badly and give them a good talking-to. This won't help either, but I'd urge you to try it before you try your more drastic plan.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2005

How old are you?
posted by lilboo at 12:37 PM on November 14, 2005

phredhead, Al-Anon and Alateen are for people whose lives are affected by someone else's drinking, whereas AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is for the actual drinker.

I agree with those who suggest simply calling the police when he goes out drunk, because yeah, he's gonna hurt someone if he keeps it up, but be prepared for the fallout. I'd expect him to set about making everyone he lives with miserable after the initial period of being humiliated and chastened by an arrest.

You might at least warn your father of your intentions before you actually do it.

And ikkyu2, the guy is driving drunk every day. I'd be less concerned about the stress getting arrested will have on him than the stress being charged with vehicular manslaughter will have on him, y'know?
posted by Gator at 12:37 PM on November 14, 2005

This man views al-anon as a joke.
phred, Al-Anon is not for him, it's to help you. That you are contemplating this, and posting it here, says to me you need some support.

I am reminded of an incident in my home town. A high school classmate of mine borrowed his father's car without permission. The father knew what had happened, but decided to teach the kid a lesson, and reported the car stolen. The cop who stopped the boy had no idea who he was. When the boy reached for the glove box to get the registration, the cop shot him dead. Imagine how the father felt.

Are you certain that your father won't try to evade arrest by running from the police, thus further endangering himself, the cops, and everyone else on the road? If you must do this, do it this way: tell the cops when he will come home, so they can observe him park the car and get out from behind the wheel, then bust him. Even with this plan, you risk blowing your family apart.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:41 PM on November 14, 2005

I think that saving the public from a habitual drunk driver is more important than one family's stress level. Nonetheless, the tactful, and probably more successful, way to do this would be to sit down with the highest possible ranking officer at CPD headquarters and explain the situation.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:45 PM on November 14, 2005

Try contacting the DMV. I once heard of a story where a man's license was revoked by the DMV for admitting to his doctors that he was an alcoholic. Perhaps they'd be willing to do the same if you filed a report. Given this strategy, you might also have luck contacting his personal physician (assuming he has one) and soliciting their assistance in the matter. A report made by a doctor might carry more weight than one made by a family member.

In the meantime, what about getting him a keychain breathalyzer for the holidays?
posted by cior at 12:56 PM on November 14, 2005

Add me to the chorus saying get yourself to Al-Anon.
posted by raedyn at 1:03 PM on November 14, 2005

Tail him when he leaves and call the cops from your cell phone. Or have a friend do it. I don't think this is drastic at all.. it is also your civil duty.
posted by dhammala at 1:10 PM on November 14, 2005

And ikkyu2, the guy is driving drunk every day. I'd be less concerned about the stress getting arrested will have on him than the stress being charged with vehicular manslaughter will have on him, y'know?

Right, *you'd* be less concerned. The original poster is about to conduct the Trinity test in his living room, and I'm concerned he hasn't completely thought out what the ramifications of totally nuking his family are going to be. As you say, you're not concerned - maybe your lack of concern ought to prompt you to recuse yourself from advising him?

No one should drive drunk even once. That's obvious, but apparently folks like you, Gator, need it spelled out for you. Let me try again: No one should drive drunk.

No one should take it upon themselves to blast their family apart, either, especially when they're upset; and when it's not going to fix the problem that the original poster so desperately needs fixed.

If I thought the original poster's plan had any chance of saving the poster, his father, or a random member of the populace, I'd get behind it 100%. I don't believe it can do any of those things. I believe that it can add more, very real problems to the original poster's life without adding any benefit. That's why I think it's a bad idea.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:42 PM on November 14, 2005

I'm with Morrigan (see above) on this. I suggest you think this strategy through very carefully before you consider going ahead. Maybe get some advice from someone who knows your family - someone you can trust.
There are countless ways for your idea to go wrong and you may not achieve your desired outcome. I can't help thinking there would be better ways to handle the situation - but only someone who knows your family and knows your father (in particular) well, can really advise you on this.
Your situation may be a rare example of a case that cannot be solved by well meaning MeFites.
posted by apocalypse miaow at 1:44 PM on November 14, 2005

...and ditto to what ikkyu2 says too....
posted by apocalypse miaow at 1:47 PM on November 14, 2005

I hate to say it but I think phredhead's duty is to see that his father does not drive drunk by ensuring that he has a means to travel without being behind the wheel: ever. again. I hope he can find a way to solve the the drinking dilemma as well, but seeing to the arrest of one's father is not the way to make this happen and he will be driving drunk one more time to implement this plan. It could be his last time behind a wheel and not because of a suspended license (which would also not likely stop him).

My mother was an alcoholic. When I was in high school, I drove my mother to AA meetings when she was drunk. I hope know what I was doing behind the wheel was not as dangerous as her driving drunk -- me yelling at her, tears blurring my vision as I drove...

Tell your father that while you would prefer he not drink you wish to ensure his safety. Have him call someone, ensure he has cab fare waiting at home, install a bar in the house if need be. Just don't let him drive.

Or, what ikkyu2 said...
posted by Dick Paris at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2005

ikkyu2, here is the part of my post that you evidently missed:

I agree with those who suggest simply calling the police when he goes out drunk, because yeah, he's gonna hurt someone if he keeps it up, but be prepared for the fallout. I'd expect him to set about making everyone he lives with miserable after the initial period of being humiliated and chastened by an arrest.

You might at least warn your father of your intentions before you actually do it.

In other words, I advised him to think about the consequences of what he's planning to do, and I also advised him to give his father a chance to not have it happen by warning him first.

If I thought the original poster's plan had any chance of saving ... a random member of the populace, I'd get behind it 100%. I don't believe it can do any of those things.

You don't believe that getting a drunk driver off the road can save lives?
posted by Gator at 1:58 PM on November 14, 2005

Perhaps you could get a breathalyzer interlock installed in his car? It'd be WAY WAY WAY cheaper than the cost of a DUI on his record, and probably about as effective at preventing his driving. Here's a place doing it for under $200.
posted by shepd at 2:12 PM on November 14, 2005

May I suggest we don't get into an "I'm right!" "No! I'm right!" thing here?
Just saying...
posted by apocalypse miaow at 2:14 PM on November 14, 2005

Assuming that the mother is around: the poster and his mother could conspire to install a breathalyzer on the ignition system of the family car. This or local equivalent (warning: site uses blink tag). Happy Birthday, Dad!

It is an interesting ethical question whether a son has an ethical duty to report a father's wrong-doing and potential risk to public safety. It is an interesting social question as to whether this is likely to help or hurt the family overall.

But in general: Al-Anon. Al-Anon. Al-Anon. They have dealt with exactly your problem, many times before, and they will help you. phredhead, you need to understand that this is not normal, that distance may be the only way to deal with it, and what you can and can't do to help the situation. The most important thing to understand is that there is very much that you cannot do. You cannot "force" an addict to stop their behavior. You cannot force your father to be the kind, loving person that you wish you had for a father. All you can really change is yourself, and how you react to the situation.
posted by jellicle at 2:20 PM on November 14, 2005

I think a large part of the right answer has to do with how old you are. It certainly dictates how much you can prevent yourself from negative fallout from your father/the rest of the family from an action this drastic. It may also give some help if we are to suggest other actions.
Drunk driving is wrong. But there is a non-zero probability that doing this will make the situation worse, not better, even for innocent not-family bystanders. You think this will make him hit rock bottom, but it often doesn't. It's hard weighing the options in a case like this, but it's also not clear, not knowing your age, living situation and other tidbits (like, where's mom?), whether you have really thought through all the options. If you were to email more info to jessamyn or mathowie it might help a lot.
posted by dness2 at 2:23 PM on November 14, 2005

phredhead, I sympathize with you. My father was an alcoholic, an complete bastard in many ways. In other ways, he was not, but that's not the point here. Previous posters here have pointed out that al-anon is not for the drinker, but for those affected by the drinker. It may or may not be your cup of tea, but I urge you to check it out.

To the point of the question- I can sense your anger at your father through your post, and although I can't assume anything about your age, I feel you have a sense of helplessness concerning the whole situation. This is normal, to be expected. You're powerless to control his drinking, you hate what it's doing to your family, and you're willing to go to some drastic lengths to change the situation.

The important thing to understand, is that your dad doesn't think he has a problem in his mind. If he truly did, he'd do something about it.

He doesn't care about the shame we in the family give him, in fact, it fuels his rage and bitterness towards all of his family.

Or is it your rage and bitterness projected onto him? I ask that seriously and in the spirit (and hope) that it will help you look at the situation a little more introspectively. I could be completely full of it, but I have too many years in a similar situation not to see it. I think your view is distorted a little bit by your close proximity to what's happening. It's also hard to back up and be objective when you're so emotionally invested.

On balance, I'd say that you have a responsibility to the public to get him off the road. Just be prepared for the fallout, which could be a nuclear meltdown of your entire family situation. Maybe that's what you're really looking for, I don't know.

On preview, it is an interesting ethics question. I'd tend to think, in this case, it would be less about what the drunken dad is doing to his family, than what he could potentially do to a completely innocent family.
posted by pjern at 2:30 PM on November 14, 2005

I don't know what your dad does for a living, but having a DUI on his record could ruin any chance of keeping or getting a good job. If my (non-alcoholic) father got a DUI, he would likely lose his security clearance, and then not only would his driving record be ruined, but his and my mother's main source of income would be gone. Before you do anything, make sure you think through ALL of the ramifications of what you do. Obviously you have a duty as a citizen to stop him, but you need to contact Al-anon to make sure you take the action that is truly best for your family. Good luck.
posted by gatorae at 2:41 PM on November 14, 2005

I'm not sure what the laws are in Chicago, but a DUI isn't just a 'night in jail'. It will have very serious consequences. If you think it will help him, you're wrong. The law isn't there to help criminals; it's to prevent them from doing harm.

It'll cost your father a lot of money, which money is going to come out of the family accounts. So it's going to impact yourself or at least your mother too (how old are you, btw?).

If you truly think your father is a menace, a danger to people because of his driving, then all you have to do is call the police and say so and so with such and such license plate is currently DUI. They'll eventually catch him. You can tell the cops your story and maybe they'll just tell him that someone called and said they thought the vehicle was wobbly, or that the cop noticed that. If it goes to court, though, then the truth will come out that there was, at the very least, an anonymous tip. Your dad will probably figure out that it was a family member, depending on how smart he, (or his lawyer) actually is.

But don't for a minute think it'll help him. That's not what the cops and the DA are for.

Even if he does clean up, he'll still be stuck with all the consequences.

Also, why do you want to be so sneaky about it? Why not just threaten him outright with this type of action?
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on November 14, 2005

Depending on your state's laws you may be able (obligated?) to report his behavior to the DMV if he's consistently driving under the influence.

Perhaps there are other avenues as well, if that's really what you want to do. For example, in Florida you could contact all his normal haunts and inform them in writing that he's a habitual drunkard and they would be legally forbidden from serving him. Strange but true - it was covered in my server training

I'm not sure this is a very productive way for you to go. Although I concur letting him endanger others is wrong there's probably better ways for you to help make your home life healthier. I Nth the suggestion you go to al-anon.
posted by phearlez at 2:59 PM on November 14, 2005

Also, let me point out that getting him arrested for DUI might just stop his driving, not his drinking. He might start drinking at home or taking a cab everywhere. He might only feel 'shame' about driving drunk, rather then being drunk, don't you think? Being drunk isn't against the law.

Trying to get your dad busted for DUI in order to get him to stop drinking is like trying to use a circular saw to remove a stuck earring.

If it's really the driving that bothers you and not the drinking, offer him rides to places, or even install a blower in the car.( I think that Idea is cute, although I suppose he could just have it removed.)

Again, the only reason to try to do this is if you're concern is truly for the people he might injure or kill, not for him.
posted by delmoi at 3:01 PM on November 14, 2005

While I understand people's arguments against busting one's own father on a DUI because it's bad for the father, and at first, agreed with them before thinking this through more, I think some things are important to point out:

- People who are not the father in question are at risk. Pedestrians, other drivers... they could be killed by this man. I've lost two people close to me because of drunk drivers - they need to be off the road.

- Related or not related, it is one's duty as a citizen to report a drunk driver or any other crime that is being committed. Doesn't matter if it's your sister, your brother, your dad, or some stranger.

- I really empathize with the people who say the added stress may do more harm than good. I do. On the flip side of that coin, though, people need to be held responsible for their actions - especially when they put innocent lives in grave danger. Do you want him to wait until AFTER his father gets in an accident?

Perhaps some approach other than setting him up for a DUI could work better... maybe an intervention or something... but what matters to me - especially as a Chicagoan - is that a drunk driver is OFF THE ROADS HERE.
posted by twiggy at 3:13 PM on November 14, 2005

twiggy, yes, but the question was not framed as "Whats the ethical thing to do" but "how can I help my father". Getting him busted for DUI will not do that.
posted by delmoi at 3:17 PM on November 14, 2005

Are you certain that your father won't try to evade arrest by running from the police, thus further endangering himself, the cops, and everyone else on the road?

This is critical. If you think he might freak out when the cops try to pull him over, he could end up in a lot more trouble than a DUI.
posted by juv3nal at 3:22 PM on November 14, 2005

Threatening an alcoholic only makes matters worse at home. Sneaking around becomes the way of the family -- always walking on eggshells trying not to waken the volcano of wrath from slumber. If you haven't lived it, it's very difficult to understand.

If I were contemplating this (and I have contemplated far more drastic) I would start with a call to dispatch asking with whom you should speak. They will, no doubt, have had this question in the past and give you a number. Make sure to request annonimity from each person. No sense letting this come back to bite you.

I understand what your thinking. Since his drinking isn't causing him any real trouble he's not going to stop. Maybe if there were real consequences he would seek help. For each dry drunk there was a consequence that forced the change. Trouble is, you can't predict which one will touch home.

I lived with it for 19 years. My dad worked on the road for 3-5 days, coming home to abuse and then leave again. Later, he worked close to home and we lived with it constantly. Finally, when I was old enough, I moved out. I hated to leave my little sister there, but she wasn't out of high school and I was going to college. 800 miles made a huge difference.

Good luck. I hope you find some peace.
posted by kc0dxh at 3:24 PM on November 14, 2005

delmoi, technically, the question was "How can he be caught?" Ultimately, nothing will help the man until he wants to be helped. Having to face some consequences for his drinking might possibly be the wakeup call he needs. It might not work, true, but it'll keep him from running over somebody, which seems to be phredhead's stated purpose at this point.

I should've said it before but phredhead, I am sorry you and your family have been suffering so much. I do hope you give Al-Anon a call.
posted by Gator at 3:26 PM on November 14, 2005

By the way, in Iowa at least you can be arrested for Public Intox in your own home, if a family member calls the police. I know a girl who's father caused her her probation to be violated by doing this. (It was probation for a DUI).
posted by delmoi at 3:35 PM on November 14, 2005

I found this DUI section on the Web site of Illinois's Secretary of State. It looks pretty informative, especially the Chronology of a DUI Arrest page and the Penalties page.

Here is the DUI page of the Cook County Traffic Court.
posted by Gator at 3:44 PM on November 14, 2005

Another plea to talk to Al-Anon first. This is exactly what they do. They're very familiar with situations like yours, they can give you advice about how different alternatives might play out, and they can offer direct, practical help for you and your family.

There are lots of meeting options in and around Chicago. The Northern Illinois Al-Anon site includes phone numbers (you can leave a message outlining your situation) and meeting info.
posted by tangerine at 4:15 PM on November 14, 2005

phredhead, how old are you?

We need this information if we are to give you good advice. There are things expected of an adult aged thirty than of a teenager aged thirteen. The former might be well-advised to call in a DUI; the latter may find himself in a whole world of bad things if he calls in a DUI and is found out.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:22 PM on November 14, 2005

I'm fairly stunned by all the people concerned by the impact of the DUI on the father. Who cares? A driver's license is not a god given right. If you are routinely driving drunk you don't deserve one. I would set the boundry thusly: "Dad, I can't live with knowing that you are driving drunk and may kill yourself or someone else. The next time I know you are driving while intoxicated I will call the police. I am doing this out of concern for your safety and the safety of other people on the road." Then if the dad does decide to leave the house drunk and get in the car, it's the dad who's made the decision. And the business about concern for safety isn't just talk -- it really is only a matter of time before this guy kills someone.
posted by selfmedicating at 4:36 PM on November 14, 2005

I'm fairly stunned by all the people concerned by the impact of the DUI on the father. Who cares?

Uh, phredhead, who's question we are trying to answer.
posted by delmoi at 4:51 PM on November 14, 2005

The mother of a good friend of mine did to her husband what you are considering doing to your father. He got busted, paid about $10,000 to make it go away, and promptly divorced his wife.

My friend's dad still drives drunk all of the time, but he managed to lose very little of the marital estate to his snitch wife, who now has to work for a living and deal with estranged children.

I live in a city and therefore don't drive a car, but if someone did it to me what you're trying to do, I'd strongly consider revenge. I would not rule out filicide.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:06 PM on November 14, 2005

How goddamn frustrating this must be for you.

1. Take care of yourself! If that means informing authorities about his activity, then good. No matter how old you are, your idea is not unreasonable. Do it.

2. There is so much going on with you and your family, it probably feels like it's going to explode horribly. I suggest getting counseling for YOU so that you can pick up your pieces and move on.

3. This is YOUR life. Don't let this bring and keep you down. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of the rest of your family and then deal with your dad.

4. You can't change him.

Good luck man, and hang in there. Like I said, you can't change your dad, but you can still feel good about your life.
posted by snsranch at 5:08 PM on November 14, 2005

Your story sounds familiar, but your choice of solution doesn't.

You may also want to look into Adult Chidren of Alcoholics.
posted by punkrockrat at 5:23 PM on November 14, 2005

Keep in mind that the penal system is meant to deter such crimes and punish them after the fact. Obviously he's not deterred. The next question is, are you trying to punish him? If so, you may want to think carefully, as many others have mentioned, about the potential fallout. The penalties for a DUI can cause a family financial hardship years after the probation is complete and once you're behind, it's difficult to get back to where you were before. That is, unless you're family is very well off. Family here means YOU. Your father may well be a complete ass but you're going to damage not only your father, but yourself, any siblings and your mother if you use this tactic. There is no going back, once you initiate the process, he'll be in the 'system' forever. That said, if there is no other alternative (Al-Anon, hint, hint), you don't want to wake up the next day wishing you'd called because he's died in a car accident.
Think along the lines of an intervention with family and frien
ds present. This is guaranteed to produce the shame you say will grab his attention, though he may just attempt to conceal his drinking (This won't work for long).
Just remember, the justice system is there for society as a whole, it's not your friend.
posted by IronLizard at 5:36 PM on November 14, 2005

Do you know your way around an engine well enough to disconnect the wire to his distributor cap? The car won't run if this wire is not connected, and odds are really good that if he is drunk he won't think to troubleshoot it, let alone solve the problem. If he calls for service, they should realize he is drunk and not reconnect the wire for him.

But yes, I also agree with the people who are saying to get some kind of counseling and make sure your own life is in order despite the chaos he inflcts on your family.
posted by ilsa at 5:43 PM on November 14, 2005

My family is loaded with drunks. One of them got a DUI and she ended up spending about 10 grand on the conviction. A "friend" of hers kept her name from appearing in the paper. She now drinks more than ever but imbibes at home rather than in bars. Shame doesn't fix anything.
posted by xyzzy at 6:26 PM on November 14, 2005

1. Go to your butchers and get some entrails and blood. You'll also need some thrift store clothes and a sledgehammer.

2. Dad comes home after a nights drinking.

3. Wait for Dad to pass out.

4. Go outside and cover the grill and hood of his car with the entrails and blood. Soak the thrift store clothes in the blood and tear into strips. Attach strips to bumber and fender. Use the sledgehammer to make a few large "body" sized dents.

5. In the morning, show dad what he's done and promise you'll help him clean the mess and keep his "deadly secret" ONLY if he promises to get help for his drinking problem
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 7:24 PM on November 14, 2005

Thinking about this, what you really need to do is hire a psychologist. It will cost your family, far, far less then hireing a good lawyer to keep your dad out of jail. Hire a shrink and get your dad into therapy. Real therapy. not AA, but real therapy. People who drink sometimes say that you'd never do anything drunk you didn't think about sober, and I'm inclined to agree with them. If you dad is acting out while drunk that's probably indicative of deep-seated problems with all of your relationships.

Get your dad into therapy. He might say I DON'T NEED THERAPY but tell him you paid in advance and it would be a waste if he didn't go.

And you need to find a good shrink. One with a PhD, one who's published papers even, lots of papers, widely-cited papers. Find the best fucking shrink in town and get him to see them. It'll still cost less then a DUI conviction. Get him in to see a shrink. That's really the best thing.

Tell him you don't want him to stop drinking, just tell him you want him to be less of an asshole when drunk. He might actually go if he thinks it'll help him drink without dealing with the acrimony of your entire family.


I think, I truly believe that a competent psychologist can help you're whole family with it's problems. It's not the alcohol, it's some other problem.

And finally:


You know, I'm very drunk right now. I'm not driving, but I am posting on metafilter, which is just as dangerous. I may, in fact, be an alcoholic, in addition to being addicted to exercise (I've lost almost 65 pounds in 5 months since I started at the gym). I'm really not sure. Maybe this means you'll discount everything I've said so far in the thread, as is your prerogative. I've never driven drunk, and I never will, but I think it's OK to get drunk in the privacy of your own home.

When I get drunk, I tend to get all "lovey-dovey, 'cant we all just get along'", but I know some people get mean, they get hateful when intoxicated (with ethanol anyway). They say the things that they wanted to say sober, but didn't have the guts too.

Maybe you'll discount everything I've said in this thread and that would be good for the average, statistical Chicagoan who might get killed by your father, but not for you and your family. That's your choice, and I should as someone un-related encourage you to report your father and everyone like him so that I'll be safer when I drive sober or ride my bike drunk like the drunken fool I am. What happens to your family is nor (upon further analysis) any concern of mine.


But what I really see here is that you want your father to bite his tongue You want your father to stop acting the way he acts drunk, and that's totally reasonable. He's probably an asshole drunk if you're posting this thread. And drunk assholes give all of us a bad name.

If you want what's best for me and for the rest of the world, call the police. It's the ethical thing to do if you subscribe to utilitarian ethics, as I do.

But I also believe in telling the truth, and the truth is that if you want what's best for you and your family, then don't report him right now. Do your best to get him into therapy.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on November 14, 2005

Hmm... I just realized that maybe what you want isn't to help your father, but revenge. If it's revenge you want then by all means report your father. You'll have your revenge, and it will be oh so sweet.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on November 14, 2005

Al-Anon is great for some people, but their whole "spiritual fellowship" thing makes me nervous.

My mom is an alcoholic, and if she was driving drunk, I'd call the cops. Alcoholics have already done years of damage to their families, anyone who says that reporting a DUI would "blast their family apart" - well, it's already blown.
posted by Liosliath at 8:11 PM on November 14, 2005

As an adult child of alcoholics (there's an understatement) I feel competent to pass on a nugget of wisdom.. brace yourself, it took me a long time to absorb this one, so print it out and read it daily...

Nobody has a problem until s/he decides they have a problem. The magnitude of that problem is decoded by the person with the problem.

What this means is that you seem to have decided you have a problem with your father's drinking and driving. Your father does not seem to have decided this is a problem. If he has decided it is a problem, he does not find it severe enough to seek help. He may never do these things.

And here is where it gets harder... you are not responsible for the feelings of other people. You cannot fix your father. Any fixing he gets is between him and his god(s).

Since you are (at the moment) the (only?) one with a problem, you are the one you need to get help for. Al-Anon may be good for this, for me it is not much more than a very safe place to cry (it's all I do at meetings, and I don't go often), and when I go that is exactly what I go for. Some people find very useful coping tools and support networks. You can get a phone number of a more senior member to call, anytime day or night. And they are serious, any time you need to call, just dial the number that you got at the meeting.

My biggest advice is don't end up at an AA meeting when you mean to be at an Al-Anon meeting. Very uncomfortable. If you do find yourself in the wrong room though, just ask where your meeting is and someone will get you there, and they will be very very very nice about it.

Another potentially helpful thing is that it is ok to love a person while not loving that person's behavior.

I do wish you the best of luck. I know this is hard. I struggle with it most days, and I haven't spoken to my parents since 1998 as a result of my problem with their behavior. To my knowledge, neither of them has a problem yet.

None of this is to suggest that you should refrain frommaking ethical choices about public safety, but make sure you understand all thepossible outcomes before endangering yourself or others.
posted by bilabial at 8:46 PM on November 14, 2005

I am sorry that you are going through this, and I add my voice to encourage you to get help for yourself.

My father was a proud man and an alcoholic and was busted two nights in a row for DUI, but still never admitted to himself or to anyone else that he had a problem.
posted by puddinghead at 9:01 PM on November 14, 2005

You really MUST go to Al-anon. Do it today, immediately to get help learning how to live with an alcoholic in the family. Ala-teen if you're a teenager. These are both EXCELLENT programs that have saved lives.

Would your dad drive without a license? You might be able to get his license suspended by talking to his physician. Physicians have an obligation to suspend the driver's licenses of people who are impaired as drivers (e.g., people with seizure disorders). Certainly a chronic alcoholic is impaired enough to be a menace.

But, even if you get a physician to do this, GO TO AL-ANON OR ALA-TEEN.
posted by jasper411 at 9:46 PM on November 14, 2005

This thread contains some astoundingly bad advice. I'm a member of AA (clean & sober 2 years), so I know a bit of what I speak.

Gator & selfmedicating - I'm sure phredhead's already seen the problem with your "solutions" - alcoholics blame everything *but* the alcohol. What we're trying to do here is force Dad to realize it's the booze. If phredhead takes credit for it, Dad's scapegoat is all set up. *If* phredhead sets up a legal situation like this, he's straight in the line of fire.

Delmoi - go to bed.

Phred - the term you're looking for is "rock bottom" - alcoholics need to wind up looking at things and seeing that it's the booze destroying everything. It's a looong trip to the bottom, so brace yourself. I agree strongly with the al-anon suggesters. Here are the numbers for Illinois. I note that Chicago doesn't seem to have a seperate number for Al-Anon - call the Alcoholics Anonymous number, they'll know.

The other thing is to call AA and ask about "open" meetings - "closed" meetings are for alcoholics only. (I'm suggesting that you go - it may be a long time before your Dad decides it's time.) They go around at the beginning of the meeting and say "my name is so-and-so, and I'm an alcoholic", but it's perfectly fine to say "I'm so-and-so, and I'm interested in learning more about AA." Just listen, soak it in like a sponge. You'll learn a lot. Some of it will scare the shit out of you - folks at AA meetings are totally honest, and routinely confess to some really horrible things. But make sure it's an OPEN MEETING.

So, Al-Anon to talk to people who've been in your shoes, and an open AA meeting to find out what it's like in your Dad's. If you can bring the family to Al-Anon, please do!

My email's in my profile, if you have any questions.

P.S. I'm not wild about calling the police just because I'm worried that that could backfire on you in a bad way. If you decide to do that, use a pay phone and don't use a phone card.
posted by swell at 9:54 PM on November 14, 2005

Speaking as yet another child of an alcoholic father, I'll add my voice to the chorus of: You can't help him, you can't fix him, you can't really punish him and it has nothing to do with how much he loves you.
posted by Good Brain at 9:58 PM on November 14, 2005

What we're trying to do here is force Dad to realize it's the booze.

I could've sworn what we were trying to do was make sure phredhead's dad doesn't kill somebody.

All of the above advice about counseling and Al-Anon/Alateen is great and phredhead should take it, but shouldn't he also take steps to get his father off the road? I don't want to downplay what people are saying about the potential consequences of such an act -- family meltdown, added stress, and all of that are very real concerns to be taken into serious consideration -- but I can't imagine weighing emotional consequences against human lives and deciding that emotional consequences weigh more.

Also, from that DUI handbook I linked to: Knowingly permitting a driver under the influence to operate a vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor. (The handbook also features a page detailing the average financial cost of a DUI conviction in IL, which is something else for phredhead to take into account before taking action.)
posted by Gator at 6:23 AM on November 15, 2005

All: I'm in my mid 30's, live a few blocks away from Dad. He's retired.
posted by phredhead at 6:28 AM on November 15, 2005

You need to stop worrying about your dad and do the best thing for you and your family. You're thinking about this in the wrong manner. You're trying to figure out how to persuade your dad to change and, in effect, giving your dad the 'power' over the change process. Instead, were I you, you should try to figure out how to help your family move on without your dad. You're the one who has to take the initiative change here, not your dad. Until you take the bold first steps your dad will never change.

Now is the time for drastic measures. Take away his car keys and license. He shouldn't be allowed to drive at all. It's not so much about him; the family would probably be unnecessarily hurt the day he totals the car and kills somebody. Next kick him out the house. Yes, kick him out the house. Pack up his stuff and leave it on the porch. Change the locks on the doors. Get him a room at a local motel. Make it clear to your father that he's destroying the family and this is no longer acceptable. Until he's ready to change then he simply can't have a day-to-day presence in the family. Cut off contact with him. Don't waste hours arguing with him on the phone. Now is the time to focus on your family healing. Speak to him once a day for 15 minutes, just to make sure he's still there, and then hang up. Always make it clear that you're willing to take him back but he has to change. Get you and your family to counseling. You don't need a professional therapist or the such. Just talking about it with the local church group will help a lot. Put your dad in the background and your family in the foreground.
posted by nixerman at 6:30 AM on November 15, 2005

Thanks for the extra information, phredhead. Since your dad is retired, presumably you don't need to worry too much about his future job prospects being affected by a DUI. Does he live alone, or are there people in the house with him who could be directly affected by his being arrested? I'm thinking mainly of physical abuse, but like I said in my first post he could also make everyone in proximity to him very miserable.

Just had another thought; is there anyone in the family who will back you up on this? You don't mention mom or siblings, but since you said "my dad is destroying our family," I assume there are other people involved here. What do they think?
posted by Gator at 6:39 AM on November 15, 2005

Well, it's good to know you're not a teenager, but I still think it's not going to help your dad to give him a DUI. He could still drive around even suspended and get into more trouble, etc.

I really think the best solution is to hire a real therapist. It would be cheaper then a DUI conviction. Is you're dad the kind of person who would ever do that?
posted by delmoi at 8:20 AM on November 15, 2005

phredhead, if you're still checking in here, I hope you'll post (or email) and let us know of any developments. I would email you myself, but you don't list an email address in your profile.

Regardless of our disagreements in this thread, I think I speak for everyone here when I say we all wish you the best and hope things work out for you and your family.
posted by Gator at 11:42 AM on November 16, 2005

Dismantle his car.


I'm two hours from Chicago, and can help if you need it.
posted by Eamon at 2:08 PM on November 16, 2005

Here's the Illinois DUI 2005 fact book. It has a lot of information.

The average DUI conviction results in $14,660 in costs and license suspension for one year. It is never erased from his record.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:29 PM on November 17, 2005

That's the same handbook I linked to. But yes, very informative.
posted by Gator at 4:39 PM on November 17, 2005

So, what happened?
posted by delmoi at 1:28 PM on December 7, 2005

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