Lou wakes up one morning with a shocking hangover, discovering that he's left his car parked in the front yard. He arrives at the office in less than perfect condition, only to hear Charlie moan about the theft of his car stereo. It annoys Charlie that several people must have seen the crime but that no-one reacted. To improve civic responsibility he comes up with the idea of a hotline, Private Eye, to which people can call in tips about crimes. It would give The Tribune a jump on most crime stories as well. Margaret Pynchon is hesitant at first, afraid of checkbook journalism. Representatives of the police department convince her to accept Charlie's proposal.
A delighted Charlie buys his colleagues drinks at McKenna's and then asks Lou to drive him to a rental car company. Leaving the lot Lou damages his taillight, which is noticed by a police patrol who stop him. Lou fails the sobriety test, gets taken to the police station and is officially arrested for drunk driving.
When a woman calls in on the Private Eye hotline with a tip about a recent murder in Beachwood, the police succeed in capturing a suspect very quickly. Rossi, the biggest opponent of the Private Eye experiment, is sent to the courthouse to interview the suspect's lawyer. The lawyer complains that his client can't defend himself against accusations of an anonymous witness. Rossi agrees and goes on a search to find the identity of the mysterious witness with the British accent.
Lou appears in court and receives a suspended sentence of 180 days, three weekends of community service and a fine that can be reduced if he takes a course at a driving school. During that course he proves to be a cynical student who is not convinced of the dangers of driving under influence. He does, however, ask Billie to do a story on the problem.
Rossi is unable to find the witness and starts to doubt whether she actually exists. Charlie has ordered him to do a piece on the success of the hotline, while Rossi is actually trying to prove that it is a bad idea. On Sunday Lou misses an exciting football game because he has to do his community service: washing police cars.
During her research in drunk driving Billie comes across a project in which people are shown how they drive while under the influence of alcohol. She challenges Lou to take the test with her. They are both shocked by the results.
Charlie makes a fuss when he finds out that Rossi harbors some doubts about Private Eye. He orders the reporter to make his accusations stick. On his return to Beachwood Rossi notices a realtor at an empty house. As he hears her British accent, he realizes that the witness does exist.
The Tribune gets an award for the Private Eye project, but both Charlie Hume and Margaret Pynchon know that they have just had a narrow escape. If the witness had been fake, the paper would have had egg on its face. It is decided to give the hotline to a group of concerned citizens. At the office the reporters organize a party to bid farewell to Private Eye. (They hated the hotline duty.) Animal drinks too much and can be convinced to take a cab home. Lou believes he can still drive, but when he reaches his car, he knows better. In the end Rossi has to drive Lou, Animal and Charlie home.