IANAL so YMMV.
Sacramento CA, 1981 or thereabouts, T intersection, Fair Oaks Blvd and Manzanita Ave, I’m westbound on FOB come to the stop at Manzanita, a Chevy Vega in front of me, he’s the first guy at the stop light. Why he stopped at the red is a mystery, but on the green he couldn’t get the car to go, kept on stalling. California’s full of bozos with poorly maintained cars so at first it’s not too unusual. Then the guy gets out of the car like he’s going to check under the hood or something and it is instantly apparent this guy is wasted. My wife is in the car with me, she also can see the cat is totaled. She tells me “Do something”. I get out, the guy behind me gets out, a guy from the parking lot next to the intersection comes over, a couple other fellas from -who knows where- show up. No central command, no conference, just a bunch of guys who know this is not going to end well if Drunk Guy drives away. Drunk Guy gets belligerent, we take his keys out of the ignition, push the car to the shoulder, don’t grab him, don’t rough him up or anything like that, just keep him contained until the cops show up. Five or six guys in concert can convince even the dumbest, drunkest guy that getting physical isn’t the way to go. Don’t know who called the cops (no wide spread car phones at that time) or if the CHP officer was just going by, but after the dust settled the cop told up we were all good dudes and did the right thing. All of us gave names, addresses, phone numbers to the CHP, I’m sure the defendant had access to all of that information. I was never called to testify, depose, or give any account after that afternoon. Just guessing he copped some type of plea but he never again bothered anyone from that incident.
So taking his keys was:
A: Pretty Easy
B: A No Brainer
C: The Right Thing To Do
Never thought about any repercussions. Never occurred to me it could be a problem. All of us just knew that this was a situation that needed handling. No macho posturing, no over the top shenanigans, just some guys doing what needed doing. No newspapers, no TV, just a cop saying “Thanks, you did the right thing.”
Would it work that way today? Sure hope so. Would I do it that way today? I think so.
(Full disclosure, Wife is out of town, kids and friends are downstairs playing their 18th hour of Magic, I’ve worked my ass off in the yard today, and I’m deep into a bottle of Maker’s. At home, not driving.)