Enforcement Creature of Habit

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Things looked bleak for Patrick Van den Kieboom of Edegem, in the Antwerp suburbs. He had imbibed around three glasses of his region’s renowned beers – and who could resist that, on a Saturday night? The problem was that he had then taken the wheel to drive himself and his wife home, and was stopped on the road at a drunk-driver checkpoint.

The key to what happened then is in that word “bijrijder” – yes, “by-rider” or passenger: the officer came up and asked not Mr. Van den Kieboom but rather his wife whether she had been drinking – No – and then had her breathe into the little device. She passed easily, and they were soon on their way again.

The explanation is simple. Van den Kieboom’s car he had bought from a South African who had shipped it to Belgium – it was to Commonwealth standard, whereby the driver sits with the wheel on the right side! But as usual, the Belgian highway officer had come up on the left side as the car was stopped on the right-hand side of the road!

To make the incident even more surreal, his wife even got a BOB keychain for her good behavior! (As pictured; BOB = Bewust Onbeschonken Bestuurder, basically “designated driver,” and the catchy leitmotif for anti-drunk driving campaigns in both the Netherlands and Dutch-speaking Belgium.) Let’s hope they saw sense and switched around soon afterwards to let the wife actually drive – and that no one with authority within the Belgian police reads De Telegraaf (and note, it’s a Dutch, not Belgian, paper)!

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