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It Won’t Be Just Another Year

Partying with a Breathalyzer


WERE THE MAYANS RIGHT? So far, 2012 looks like an up-and-down year. According to (mis)interpretations of the ancient Maya calendar, on December 21 of this year, the world could come to an end — or maybe it’ll just be another Christmas shopping day. Just to be safe, don’t wait to take your vacation.

Barney Brantingham

As for the rest of up-and-down 2012:

• Home prices are down — but just try to get a loan.

• Mortgage rates are down — ditto above.

• Jobs are going begging — if you’re a brain surgeon. Even President Obama has to fight to keep his job.

• Gas prices are down — but resort prices are up when you get there.

• You’ve got champagne dreams for 2012 — but Two-Buck Chuck reality.

• Ventura has Target — Goleta has Kmart. (For now.)

POOPING CHOCOLATE: Most bizarre story I heard over the holidays was from a friend, Alex Cornett, whose dog gobbled a bag of chocolate kisses and spent one Christmas pooping out multicolored wrappings. “The dog was none the worse for the experience,” she told me.

COOL YULE: Most stunning holiday display I saw was in Ty Warner’s Four Seasons Biltmore lobby. Tall tree, lots of bright balls, flanked by nutcracker men in bright outfits.

WHEW! I survived the holi-daze here in DUI City. Careful? I didn’t even dare wear aftershave for fear of making the breathalyzer zing, or whatever it does, in case I got stopped.

No Vitalis on the hair, either. Back in my teen years I used to douse that stuff on. I still don’t know what else is in Vitalis but it was the alternative to “greasy kid stuff” and it reeked of alcohol, enough that a cop could whiff it a block away.

I keep thinking about that guy who got nailed in Santa Maria for his fourth DUI. Curious about what happens to someone with four notches on his DUI rap sheet, I checked with Deputy DA Lee Carter.

A fourth DUI conviction turns into a felony instead of a misdemeanor, he said. Generally speaking, a judge has the option of sentencing him to 180 days in the county jail, plus probation. He must attend an alcohol-education class. The judge also could sentence him to prison for a 16-month, two-year, or three-year jolt, which turns into half that under current rules, and with no probation hanging over his head.

His license is suspended for four years. Under a new California law that went into effect January 1, courts will outright revoke a license after three or more DUIs in a 10-year period.

Even a first-offense DUI will probably cost you around $10,000 in fines, fees, penalties, loss of income from missing work, higher insurance rates, and attorney fees.

And if this were Oregon, under a new law, anyone convicted of even a first-offense DUI must install an interlock ignition device in the car that will check the driver’s BAC (blood-alcohol content). A bad reading means the buggy won’t start.

A friend went to a party where the host invited guests to use his breathalyzer before they got behind the wheel to head home. My friend blew a 0.02, safely under the 0.08 limit. But since alcohol affects your reactions behind the wheel, why drink and drive at all?

PERFECTLY FINE DRUNK: All this reminds me of Dorothy Parker’s short story in the New Yorker titled “You Were Perfectly Fine.”

It’s the morning after, and a guy’s girlfriend is explaining how everyone was so terribly amused at his behavior the night before. Almost everyone, that is, except maybe Jim Pierson, who had to be restrained after our hero made a pass at his wife and poured clam juice down her back.

The poor guy moans while she cheerfully recounts all his booze-flavored goofs, including the marriage proposal he definitely can’t recall, but she brightly assures him, “You were perfectly fine.”

BAMBOOZLED: That father-and-son team accused of defrauding owners of luxury cars left at their sales lot on consignment did some nifty geographic sleight-of-hand, as well. Their “Montecito Motors” car lot was actually in downtown Santa Barbara, on Chapala Street. Chester Adam Taylor and son Adam are accused of defrauding 26 customers.

Weirdest story: One woman told The Santa Barbara Independent that the Taylors agreed to store her Thunderbird in a safe place. But when she asked for it back, they said rats had gotten into it and it was a total loss that insurance wouldn’t cover. Only after Montecito Motors was boarded up in 2010 did she learn that the T-bird had been sold months earlier.

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