You’ve got to hand it to traffic cops around the world, they do a good job at keeping their cool considering their clientele. And, judging from a new compilation of on-duty video footage, it seems that traffic control agents in Palermo hear their fair share of ridiculous excuses: “I can’t blow into the breathalyser because I have COPD”, “Don’t make me do this test – it’s my birthday”, “I’m not wearing a helmet because it messes up my hair.”
Recently, Buenos Aires’s Body of Traffic Control and Road Safety Agents, working alongside the City Police, seem to have started a crackdown on drink driving and breathalyser checks are becoming a pretty common occurrence, particularly during the night in areas full of restaurants, bars and clubs. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you!)
It doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, then, that the ever-bustling Palermo neighborhood is a prime target for the cops: according to official statistics, Palermo’s rate of positive breathalyser results is 4.6 percent – that’s a massive 70 percent higher than the average for the rest of the city, which is 2.7 percent. In March alone, the authorities recorded more than 150 cases in which breathalyser results came back positive.
But, obviously, drivers are often less than keen to provide some air, especially when they know their next puff could result in saying chau to their vehicle and a fine of between AR $1000 and AR $6000. The video released yesterday, which includes footage from several incidents in Palermo, shows the ridiculous extremes people are prepared to go to in order to try and avoid the inevitable.
One guy claims that his company lent him the car he’s driving because it’s his birthday and pleads with the cops to let him go without taking the test, while a Brazilian woman actually brings out radiographs of her lungs to prove that she suffers from COPD and can’t blow into the breathalyser for 7 seconds: “When I blow into it hard, I don’t have enough air, so I can’t blow into it for as long as they are asking me to.”
Another driver takes a different approach and simply puts his foot down on the accelerator and speeds off round the corner when his test comes back positive. Not the smartest move, considering that he left all his identification documents with the cops.
And it’s not just breathalyser-avoiders that the traffic control agents have to deal with. The video also shows one guy having a drugs test. Obviously not too enthusiastic about the outcome, he asks: “If I smoked marijuana yesterday, is it going to give me a positive result?” Inevitably, his results are incriminating.
And as for my personal favorite: the guy on the back of a motorbike who tries to excuse himself from not wearing a helmet by telling the cops that it “flattens all of [his] hair.”
The take away here: prioritize.