Friday, October 5, 2012

I Had The Right To Remain Silent…At Least I Think I Did…

Some things just don’t happen every day: You finding $100 in your wallet, Tom Hanks personally requesting you to co-star with him in his next Oscar-worthy movie, or your being arrested and formally charged with a DUI when you don’t even drink. Sure, a couple of those things would be wonderful to happen, but handcuffs and police stations make watching Joan Rivers’ face more appealing.

A few weeks ago, I started the day like any other. After getting everyone ready for school and forcing them to eat some breakfast whether they were hungry or not, I set off to drop my kids at their wonderful charter school. On my way home, I became parched and decided to stop at a near-by gas station to get one of my guilty pleasures of sweetened iced tea.

However, starting to pull out of the parking lot, I became distracted and very gently bumped the back bumper of the car in front of me.  With absolutely no damage whatsoever, the guy in that car insisted on having the police come to make a report. I think that was because he felt awkward dealing with a deafie and also I was acting slightly inebriated since I can’t lipread and they didn’t even understand that I was Deaf in the first place.

When the police did finally arrive at the scene, I got out of my van and started staggering around. I simply couldn’t stand up straight. I get this way when standing after sitting for a while. But it sure didn’t look like I was experiencing momentary dizziness to everyone around me! In fact, I’m sure I looked completely dead-on drunk!

Then, the officer approached me and started asking me questions. I must have informed him that I was completely deaf a million times. I also told him I couldn’t lipread and had no idea what he was saying. He pondered this for about two seconds, and then continued talking to me in exactly the same manner as before. Ugh!

I took the Breathalyzer test, which showed 0 alcohol in my body, but even that didn’t seem to matter much. I believe he read me my rights as he handcuffed me, put me in his car, and took me to jail, but there’s no way I could have understood him. Nothing was written down for me and no interpreter was present. Is that even legal? Doesn’t the rights he probably read me include a, “Do you understand these rights,” at the end? Because if he did read them to me, I surely didn’t understand. In fact, that entirely morning/experience, left me understanding absolutely nothing!

I could go on and on about what happened that day, but with a case of severe memory loss and the fact that they had me in custody for hours and hours before an interpreter showed up at the jail, (meaning I was confused and completely ignorant to anything anyone said), it wouldn’t be extremely informative.

But here I am, charged with a DUI when I don’t even drink or do drugs. They’ve even informed me that I could be facing thousands of dollars in fines and jail time to serve if convicted!

I arrived at my first court appearance and, again, there was no interpreter scheduled. We all had to wait around for more than an hour, after informing the clerk of my ‘terp needs, for one to even show up. Grrrrr…… And now they’re waiting for my blood labs to be done and reported (they did a blood/alcohol test, which will unquestionably come back as 0). Then they want to see me in court again. My hope, of course, is that they’ll dismiss the charges and leave me alone. And they’d better remember to schedule a ‘terp this time around.

So, as you can see, being Deaf and working with the police, especially if they don’t comprehend what special needs a Deaf person might have, is nothing but a big pain in the butt! Maybe this all has a reason though. Didn’t someone once say that everything happens for a reason? Maybe this is all a way of insisting I stop drinking copious amounts of sweetened tea. When you think about it, if I’d never stopped for my guilty pleasure, I would have simply gone home and enjoyed the rest of the day.

Let’s just hope that all of this takes care of itself as quickly as possible. I don’t experience worry and stress all that well.