Why Willie Mason’s DUI Was a Good Thing

Let me start this article by saying I am not condoning drink driving in the slightest. It is a dangerous practice and I usually have little sympathy for anyone who gets done.

However, I will say that the damage Willie Mason would have done driving around Newcastle the night after a ‘big one’ pales in the comparison to the amount of positive press the incident has received. Specifically, the number of drinks Big Willie had, and the number of hours he subsequently slept for.

Let’s face it, we’ve all driven after a big night out. When I was a youngster in Brisbane, dodging uni classes at day (and my round during the evening), it was commonplace to wake up groggily the next day and jump in the car to fill up on the ‘Colonel’ (KFC).

We didn’t even think about it: a) we were in suburban Brisbane and you basically can’t get anywhere without a car; and b) in our youthful naïve state, we didn’t even think we were drink driving. The only dangerous thing we thought we were doing was indulging in a particularly unhealthy breakfast.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You blokes were bloody idiots! Of course you were over the limit!! And, probably: How could you be so disgusting and eat that for breakfast??? 

But hey, we were drunk – and you have to remember this was 10 years ago. I’m not sure even the cops knew how many drunk people were out on the roads at 10am on a Sunday morning back then.

Certainly there were far fewer RBTs at that time when I was growing up. It is quite possibly where the expression ‘Sunday Driver’ comes from. There I was thinking it was just old people going to church, but no, it was rugby league players driving to recovery sessions.

‘Sunday Drivers’, an etymological fallacy

Now in fairness, these days I think a lot of youngsters do know they will be over the limit the day after a big night, but that is primarily because, being on their “P plates,” they know they can’t have any alcohol in their system at all.

But how many of the Old Guard ever think they’ll be over? Even now I am a little bit surprised how high Willie blew, if he did, as he claimed, have seven hours sleep. I know as well as anybody that “ten beers and a few gin and tonics” could mean absolutely anything, but I would have thought a big bloke who is also a professional athlete would blow less than 0.09 some eight hours after the fact.

Obviously I have no idea what I’m talking about, but that is exactly my point. How many of us do? Not too many I would wager. I think we can all agree however that the old adage “12 hours from bottle to throttle” is a load of rubbish and not to be trusted.

So I thank you, Big Willie, for your goofy larrikinism and for inadvertently taking one for the team, as you so often have. Finally, an example of a rugby league player getting drunk and blowing over something the next day that doesn’t end in tears and a law-suit.

By Al McClintock

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