Shamefully, all too many of us have been there: out in the bars since happy hour, it's now a quarter-past closing time. We stagger to the car and suddenly remember we haven't eaten a thing other than beer nuts since lunch. Hunger cuts through the fog of drunkenness, but what's open at that ungodly hour?
The good old Whataburger drive-thru, that's what. We head over, eyes flicking to the rear-view mirror, hoping no cops pick up our fumes. And suddenly, there it is, that ivory-and-traffic-cone-orange beacon of greasy salvation.
Sadly, many, many others have had the same idea. The line snakes all the way around the building, some cars full of drunken twentysomethings merrily singing along, others ferrying morose drunks like you, headed home alone or to an unhappy partner.
The minutes drag by. You tune in some classic rock. You finally make your order: double-meat, double-cheese with everything, and extra grilled jalapeños. Extra large those fries while you're at it. You're already gonna be hating life manana, so you might as well add some lower GI distress into the mix, and hell, maybe if you just pulled over to the side of the parking lot and ate all that food, it might give you that little boost of sobriety that could save you from a DWI.
And still the line drags on and on and on...Zep's "Goin' to California" burbles from your speakers. You wish Whataburger wouldn't insist on cooking everything so fresh. They should call this place Waitaburger. Hey, that's a good one. I'll try to remember that. You hope that girl who gave you her number will pick up when you call, and then, aaaaannnnddd thennnn.....zzzzzzzz
The next thing you know, a cop is tapping his flashlight on your window, asking you to turn off your engine and step out of your car.
You've passed out in your car in the Whataburger drive-thru. You've proven yourself a true Texan.
As residents of the birthplace of Whataburger, citizens of Corpus Christi seem to be hell-bent on showing the rest of us how it's done.
After two straight nights of finding teens passed out behind the wheel at Whataburger drive-thrus, police were called out to a third restaurant on the third night, where they found an allegedly drunken woman behind the wheel of a truck stuck on a curb. She attempted to flee when police arrived, but the cop was able to reach in and put the truck into park before she could make her escape.
But like we said, and as adept at the art as Corpus Christi's proud originators seem to be, Texans from every corner of the Lone Star State proudly partake in the tradition.
Here's another case from El Paso. In a spicy borderlands twist, this guy added yayo and violence to the mix.
North Texas, represent .
Rio Grande Valley, stand up! (In this case, the drunk driver was a cop -- Mauricio Ramos, pictured.)
Here's lookin' at you, Texas Panhandle.
As for Houston, we've acquired enough confidential information about certain locations of the chain to last a lifetime.
So yeah, it's endemic. If the cops really wanted to take a bite out of DWI, perhaps they would do well to put up check-points just past the window at every Whataburger in the state.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
What's more, the Texan rite has been debated in some of the highest courts in the state.
A couple of years ago, the Third District of the Texas State Court of Appeals upheld our right to pass out behind the wheel at a Whataburger without fear of arrest, so long as we have the snap to come to before the fuzz shows up. (If you're still snoozin' when the law arrives, that's probable cause for DWI, and you're on your own.)
Now how does that old song go? That's what I like about Texas.
We feel pretty sure some of you might have some similar stories and would love to read them in the comments.