Drunk Dialing 9-1-1

Everyone knows it is dangerous and illegal to drink and drive, but perhaps it would be prudent to warn of the dangers of drinking and dialing. Drunk dialing an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend may lead to significant embarrassment--and perhaps a restraining order--but calling 9-1-1 while intoxicated may lead to criminal charges. Of course, if there is a valid emergency, one should not hesitate to call emergency services, whether or not he or she is inebriated. However, what may seem like an emergency to someone whose judgment is significantly impaired by alcohol or drugs may not be an emergency at all, and calling 9-1-1 for any purpose other than a legitimate emergency is abuse of the system and punishable by law. So what are some drunk 9-1-1  calls that have led to criminal charges? Last week, a Montana woman made national headlines after she called 9-1-1 because she could not get out of her car. When Carol Frances Omeara, 55, called to request assistance getting out of her car, a dispatcher asked if she was having medical or mechanical difficulty. Omeara replied that she was "too drunk." Police found Omeara in her car with her keys in her pocket. Omeara, who has three prior DUI convictions, was charged with felony DUI. Note: In Oklahoma, one can be charged with Actual Physical Control or APC of a vehicle while intoxicated, even if he or she is not driving. The penalties for APC are the same as those for DUI (read more). Omeara is far from the only person who has called 9-1-1 while intoxicated. In 2009, Mary Strey called police to report herself as a drunk driver. The audio of the 9-1-1 call follows: Earlier this year, another drunk driver called police to report himself for driving drunk, telling the dispatcher he was doing so because he was "sick of Indiana." Not every drunk person who calls 9-1-1 does so to report a crime--such as DUI. In April, a woman called emergency services at least five times in eight days to report medical problems. EMTs found her intoxicated, but with no other obvious medical issues. She admitted that she was just lonely. In 2011, a man called 9-1-1 not one, but three times to ask for a ride to the liquor store: Another man drunkenly called 9-1-1 five times because he couldn't get his iPhone to work, and another called three times--twice to say his cell phone wasn't working, and once to say his drug dealer was mad at him. Finally, a man who was cited for public intoxication and taken to his ex-wife's home called police because the woman wouldn't give him the rest of his beer in accordance with police orders. He concluded his 9-1-1 call by telling the dispatcher, "You sound pretty," and asking for her phone number. Abusing the 9-1-1 system is a crime because it ties up resources which could be used in a legitimate emergency--reporting a crime, fire, or medical emergency. Still, if someone is drunk enough, they may think a broken iPhone or being unable to work the handle on a car door is a serious emergency situation.