One of the things I love about the job of a police officer is that you never know what to expect. The second I begin complacently driving around Isla Vista thinking about non-cop stuff, like rainbows, unicorns, Michael Bolton comeback tours … BAM! Something hits me out of the blue. Of course last week it happened to be a drunk driver. Really? Of all the cars to rear end, a cop car? I’m going to count that as a fail.

I was stopped for having a tail light out. The cop had me do some tests to see if I had been drinking and driving. I think I passed them and then he asked me to take a breath test. What would happen if I refused?

It all depends on what breath test you are asked to take. When we pull someone over and we suspect that they have been drinking and driving, we will have the driver go through a series of field sobriety tests. These consist of the familiar walking the line, touching your finger to your nose, balancing on one foot and your explanation of the level of suspension of disbelief required to make Adrien Brody a tough guy in the movie “Predators.” Okay, the last one’s not fair. No one can explain that.
One of the final tests we give is called the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test. Basically it is a breath test that is combined with how you did on the previous tests to determine if the officer believes you are driving under the influence. When we give the PAS test, we will read an admonishment that says if you are over 21 years old you have the right to refuse this test. If you are under 21, you are required to take it.

If you choose not to take the PAS test, the officer will make his decision based on how you did with the previous tests. Up to this point you have not been arrested. If the officer decides that you were driving under the influence, he will place you under arrest. At that point you are given a choice to complete a breath or blood test. You can choose either one, but you are required to complete one of them. You don’t have the right to refuse the tests at that point. Hopefully you won’t be faced with that choice.

Someone parked in our apartment’s driveway and is blocking in several cars. We called the I.V. Foot Patrol and they said there was nothing they could do. We called the tow company and they came out, but said they couldn’t tow the car. They said the law would not let them tow it. What are we supposed to do?

There are two things Isla Vista is missing more than anything else; public bathrooms and parking spaces. On Friday nights, parked cars seem to take the place of public bathrooms, so I guess parking is really the one thing really missing in I.V. As a result, people will park anywhere, blocking in other cars promising to move them “in just a minute” as they take care of their business. Of course the English translation for “in just a minute” is “eventually, maybe, at some point in the near or not-too-distant future if it suits me.”

The problem is you have to leave for class or work right now and you need to get that car out of the way. The rules and laws involving towing a car from a parking lot are pretty strict. The police can’t do it, since it’s private property. A tow company can only do it if the parking lot is properly posted with signs at the entrances indicating that vehicles can be towed at the owner’s expense. Even with the signs, the tow company needs the property owner or manager to authorize the tow. They generally won’t tow just on the request of a resident. That leaves you with the only option of calling the property manager. So leave a message with the manager and they’ll take care of it in just a minute.

Is it illegal to ride a bike and talk on a cell phone at the same time?

Nope. And while you’re at it, it’s also legal to hit yourself in the head with a hammer. I, personally, don’t recommend either one. Eventually the law will cover this, but for now, even though it’s causing accidents on the bike paths, people are allowed to do it.

As midterms set in, I hope everyone is having a warm and safe Winter Quarter. Unfortunately the cold hasn’t deterred the thieves from ripping off laptops, so be sure to lock your doors and don’t leave the laptops lying around. When you’re not using them, put them away in a drawer or closet. Most thefts are from thieves walking in and snagging any laptop in sight. For now, stay safe and have a great quarter.

Got caught by a cop? Your party popped by the Po-Po? Ticked by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you, Question Authority! E-mail me anytime at or call UCSB PD at 805-893-3446.