NO RECOMPENSE: I have been in this business for 21 years. I was stunned when I received an early morning call from my dispatcher to inform me that one of my chauffeurs had been arrested and our vehicle impounded.
You know when your home phone rings at 4 a.m. that the call cannot be a good one. You almost know the news is going to be bad and wonder just how bad it is going to be.
I could hardly believe what I was hearing. One of my best, most reliable, most conscientious chauffeurs had been arrested for “driving erratically” and “possibly under the influence of narcotics.” To know Fred, it was something that just could not be processed. Fred doesn’t even drink alcohol. He certainly would not engage in illicit narcotics! Erratic driving? Impossible!
As the day began to unfold I would soon learn more from various sources including the chauffeur’s wife, father and my own son. It was relayed to me that Fred had completed a drop off in San Diego (four hours away from us) just after midnight and was heading home through Orange County when he was stopped. Apparently he was driving slower than the rest of traffic through a construction zone when a California Highway Patrol officer monitoring the construction zone stopped Fred.
His eyes appeared red. He was asked if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Fred told the officer he was working and returning home and had consumed nothing. The officer asked him if he had taken any drugs recently. Here is where things went badly. Fred replied, “Yes.” Fred is the recipient of a kidney transplant and must take drugs every day for the rest of his life. The officer wanted to know how the drugs affect him. A drug recognition expert was brought in. He could not determine if Fred was under the influence of narcotics.
The decision was made to tow the car, take Fred in, give him a blood test, and determine if he would be released or charged. As soon as the blood test was in, he was free to leave. That was 15 hours later at about 5:30 p.m. The tow yard was closed. He didn’t even know what city he was in. Fortunately, my son is a local resident of the area who took Fred to a local hotel for the night.
The next day, we learned that getting the car out of impound will cost $250. It is cash only. They take no credit cards, no check by phone, and the registered owner has to physically appear to get the car out of impound. This was a new problem. After taking cash to Fred’s bank here so he could withdraw cash there, one problem was solved. After a little sweet talking and my son appearing in their office with a driver’s license bearing the name “Luff,” the car was released and Fred was on his way home. The hotel room cost $72.81. The impound fee was $250. When I called the CHP to ask how we would be reimbursed for these expenses caused by their mistake, I was told there is no reimbursement for such things and the officer told me it was, “One of those things where we just say, ‘Oops, we are sorry.’” Me too!
-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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