Fact Check

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

An accused drunk driver flips open his wallet in the courtroom and demands, 'Beam me up, Scotty.'

Published Dec 31, 1998

Legend:   A defendant sentenced for drunk driving flips open his wallet as if it were a Star Trek communicator and demands, "Beam me up, Scotty."

Origins:   The appeal of this story is the visual image it presents, one of a bested yet still defiant drunk so out of touch with his surroundings that he thinks rescue is at hand. It's the ludicrosity that's attractive . . . well, that and the bit of everyman's wish that problems were that easy to escape from. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to request a beam-out when things got sticky?

The following version came from a fellow who claimed it had happened in the UK in the 70's:

It involved an amateur pilot who flew a light aircraft under Tower Bridge in London. When contacted by the Air Traffic Controllers he identified himself as Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.

When he was asked if he wanted to say anything on his own behalf before the judge passed sentence, he pretended to be using a Star Trek communicator, whistled, and said "Beam me up Scotty, I'm in the shit."

As I recall, the judge found him in contempt of court and increased the fine!

This tale shows up in the print media too, as in the following 1994 newspaper article:

Some of the amusing — or lame — ways Washington motorists have tried to avoid traffic citations:

Not everyone tries an excuse. Some look for intervention from above. "The best response I heard, this guy was doing 67 in a 55-mile-an-hour zone," Bussman said. "I stopped the car, he flipped open his wallet like on Star Trek, rolled his eyes up, and said, 'Beam me up, Scotty.' It tickled my funny bone."

Here's another sighting from a 1985 magazine article about David Schulte:

But technical creativity goes only so far. To build accord in a room full of battered, but still vigorous, egos, Schulte sometimes resorts to humor. International Harvester lenders recall that during one particularly heated exchange between bankers over a minor point, Schulte got up and made a short speech exhorting the combatants to move on to a more important topic. The bankers listened politely and then resumed the argument. Schulte sat down flipped open his wallet and said: "Beam me up, Scotty. There's no intelligent life here."

This last entry comes from a Regina, Canada, lawyer, and is said to have happened in the early 1980s:

Three or four years ago, a young man pleaded guilty in a Regina courtroom to a charge of possession of marijuana. Before passing sentence, the judge delivered a lengthy sermon on the dangers of drugs, then asked the accused if he had anything to say.

The accused pulled his wallet from his back pocket, flipped it open, held it in front of his mouth and said in a loud voice: "Scotty, beam me up!"

Around the same time, 3,000 miles away in Newfoundland, a similar drama unfolded. It was witnessed by Judge Seamus B. O'Regan, of the District Court of Newfoundland, before he went on the Bench. He sends this report:

A young, long-haired university student had been convicted for having 'in his possession' a rather substantial amount of grass. It was obvious that the trial judge would have preferred to have convicted him of trafficking had the Crown been able to prove the offence. From the demeanor of the accused, it was obvious that he was treating the matter rather lightly.

Having entered conviction, but before passing sentence, the judge hinted at the fact that he was considering a custodial term. He asked the accused if he had anything to say before the passing of what appeared to be a rather harsh sentence.

Realizing his predicament, the accused looked down, unzipped his jacket, poked his head inside, and in a voice loud enough for the whole courtroom to hear, said: "Hurry up. Scottie! Beam me up!"

So far versions of this story have been reported that tell it as taking place in an unspecified Canadian court, in a Regina, a Newfoundland, and a British court, on a Washington, DC highway, and at an International Harvesters meeting. In other words, all the usual places people would want to be rescued from.

Barbara "kirkitude" Mikkelson

Last updated:   18 July 2007

  Sources Sources:

    Beers, Carole.   "Troopers, Judges Hear All Sorts of Alibis."

    Seattle Times.   16 April 1994   (p. A10).

    Krauss, Lawrence M.   The Physics of Star Trek.

    New York: Harper Collins, 1995   ISBN 0-465-00559-4   (p. 66).

    MacDonald, Peter.   Court Jesters.

    Toronto: Stoddart, 1985   (pp. 29-30).

    Spragins, Ellyn.   "David Schulte Rules 'The Land of Broken Dreams.'"

    Business Week.   27 May 1985   (p. 80).

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