Life After a DUI: Why I’m the Lucky One

It has been a little over one week since my DUI, and as I’ve moved beyond hating myself for being in an idiot and not understanding the science behind how long it takes alcohol to actually leave your body (note to self, 3 hours after 3 glasses of wine is not enough time), I’ve moved on to trying to figure out how this mess is going to effect my budget. The entire time, all I can think about is how fortunate I am that I am going through this with a decent salary and as a single person. I’m the lucky one.

Between the fines, the lawyer fees ($3000 for my lawyer, who is also handling one open ticket I have so I don’t lose my license permanently), the cost of public transit when you loose your license for a month or a few months, and the ultimate increase in insurance fees (not to mention having to report yourself as having been arrested on any future employment applications), this is not a game someone who doesn’t have the income to support this sort of nightmare wants to play. Not that I want to play it either (at all), but at least, after a few hours balancing my budget, I’ve moved around enough items that I can live frugally for the next few months I can get back on track. It’s definitely not that easy for a lot of other people.

When I was in jail, handcuffed to a chair, in my pretty Nordstrom dress that I bought, on a whim, from the junior’s department, I spent the night studying my fellow convicts. It definitely changed my perception on the type of people who end up in jail. I was probably the only person there who had received a DUI after a nerd gathering, but the others had been out for the night — some were clearly on more substances than alcohol — and they were all fun, normal people who just made a mistake. One mistake that could have hurt someone else (or maybe it did), one mistake that can ruin a life. One mistake defined by the government as a mistake to protect everyone else. One very expensive mistake.

Everyday, we hear about some celebrity getting a DUI or ending up in jail for a similar reason. What popular celeb that makes the front pages of tabloids doesn’t have a DUI on their record? Lindsey Lohan, Haley Joel Osment, Khloe Kardashian, Jason Wahler, Stephanie Pratt, Mel Gibson, Wynonna Judd, Paris Hilton, Nicole Riche, Heather Locklear, Michelle Rodriguez, Mike Tyson, Gus Van Sant, Bill Murray, Shia Lebeouf, Tracy Morgan, and many others all had DUIs. And these people can clearly afford to have a driver take them from one place to another. Still, they go and drive tipsy/drunk anyway. For those like Paris Hilton that make a career on the brand of being a party girl, it’s almost a sad part of the job. For others, it just happened, and they dealt with it just like everyone else.

But for celebs, the cost of a DUI is only a slight nuisance. $3000-$7000 for a lawyer? That’s pocket change. A fine? A few thousand dollars? It won’t even be noticed. I’m also lucky. I can afford the headache (though it still sucks and means I won’t have that $10k for grad school or retirement.) Beyond the constant nightmares about getting arrested (last night I had a dream that I drank a half glass of some vodka and pink grapefruit cocktail and was arrested with a .09 DUI!) I’m ok. I’ll get through this.

Meanwhile, I think of the other women I met in jail, who were in a really tough spot. Some of them had kids. Some didn’t. Most were arrested for their second DUI or other substances. We all knew we deserved the punishment, but that didn’t make looking ahead to the punishment, and the reality of what that meant any easier. For one woman, she couldn’t stop crying because her boyfriend had to post $8000 bail for her, and he was going to be “very upset” (I took that as he might beat her by the way she said it.) For her second DUI she was facing a jail sentence, and while she didn’t plan to hire a private lawyer again (she said she wasted $1500 on a private lawyer for her first DUI that didn’t help at all), she still was going to struggle paying off any fines and increased insurance fees that came about from her error. She couldn’t even contemplate how messed up her life was going to be after this mistake.

I’ve always been the type to say we ought to prosecute drunk drivers as much as possible because they could hurt people — and, well, that’s true — but I’ve also learned that prosecution isn’t fair at all, and for some of us it’s a pain, for others, it destroys lives. At the same time, I know that I’ve driven on a few hours of sleep at times when I was in a much worse state to drive than after two glasses of wine. Again, I’m not saying we don’t deserve the punishment, but sometimes I question how much of the resulting punishment is so this doesn’t happen again, and how much of it is actually to support funding a government that is in terrible debt. I sucks, but I can pay for that. I can afford my mistakes. A lot of others who are arrested for this and face the same exact fines can’t.

Right now I’ve given up alcohol entirely. It’s hard to do that. Not because I’m alcoholic. Not because I even like drinking. But it’s tough in our culture. When the few times you get invited to hang out with your friends involve “going drinking.” When your company culture includes going out to happy hour after work and everyone has a giant beer. I’ve been ordering water lately. Luckily, no one at work has said anything, but the server always has some comment to make when you are with a bunch of people drinking and you order water. “More of that diet water for you Miss?” That really pisses me off. In that case, I am driving home fairly soon after hanging out with my coworkers, and I’m not about to get in a car after drinking anything again. I don’t have an interest in drinking alcohol at the moment anyway. I’m sober for good. And I refuse to go to AA to make myself look better for the judge because I don’t belong there. I belong in Stupid Mistake Addicts Anonymous if anything. I wish there was such a group.

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  1. Peg says:

    You have No idea how much I have related to your post. Thank you so much. I got my first DUI Friday night. I have been sick since then. I've been throwing up.. I can't sleep/eat. I too have been having nightmares. I was a high blow OVI which scares the hell out of me. My attorney said he may be able to get the # down but I'm terrified. I'm scared I'm going to lose my license or it's going to go through the roof, I'm scared my work will find out. I'm also a coach and I'm scared it could impact my chances of doing it next year because they do a back ground check too.

    I totally agree with your decision to not drink because I feel the same exact way. After going through all of this I see just how stupid of a decision I made when I chose to drink and drive. I felt I was treated poorly by the arresting officer so I also agree with you about the severity of the punishment.

    Thank you for your insight. It has helped me.

    • Joy says:

      Peg, I'm glad my post helped you. Let me tell you that while we both know it was a bad idea to drink and drive, we will get through this. It sucks, but it is not the end of the world. I have gotten through my court appointments and volunteer work, and now I can get a restricted license and have to finish my DUI classes. It was a life lesson that I will never forget. Good luck with your court appointment.

      • Hope says:

        Are you still dealing with your DUI?

        Did it affect your job?

        Did you have to install the ignition interlock device to your car?

        It looks like its been almost a year since your charge. Would you say your life is almost back to "normal"?

        I too am guilty of a recent first offender DUI. I'm eligible for a diversion program which is an alternative to getting a conviction (after completing the program the DUI charge is dismissed). I went from hating myself for the ridiculously DUMB mistake, to simply accepting it & finding ways to cope with the consequences. Thanks to the new law in Oregon, for first time offenders (even if you are in the diversion program) you are required to install the ignition interlock device on any car you drive in order to reinstate your drivers license. After researching how it works I am thinking about just not reinstating my license & taking public transportation for the duration that I am on diversion (pretty much a year).

        I thank you for sharing your story. I'm glad to see that I am not alone. I too have decided to give up drinking completely. Just not worth it. Any words of advice that you could give to recent DUI offenders?

        • rob says:

          I drove legally drunk two or three days a week for 30 years. Picked up my first dui, a fluke (no license light). Absolutely ridiculous. These laws should be abolished.

          • Sara says:

            Very glad they exist – to stop drunk drivers who don’t realize that they’re like waving a loaded gun in a crowd, waiting to see what happens.

        • hereverycentcounts says:

          It’s been two years since my DUI. It still sucks. I’m still out $10k. I still can’t go to Canada (honestly the worst of it.) But it also really had me reevaluate myself. Even though I rarely drank, when I did, I was out of control. I only blew a .11, but clearly I should have not been driving. The fact that I couldn’t keep myself from doing this taught me that I had less control over myself than I thought. I really feel like that was the last stupid mistake of my youth. I’m a grown up now, and I thank God that I won’t make this kind of mistake later in life when I have kids or no longer have youth to blame. It pisses me off when people say they’ve been driving drunk for many many years and never got caught, because that’s true – most people DON’T get caught, especially not the ones who deserve to. It’s a crap shoot. Eventually people get caught for something unrelated to drunk driving, they just happen to be drunk at the time. So justice comes around eventually. I learned my lesson, and I’ll never make the mistake again.

  2. Kingsley says:

    Wow. Your thoughts we're mine in a nutshell exactly. First of all let me tell you that I found your post by trying to search "percent of people who get back to a "normal" life after a dui", basically I was looking for the percent of people with DUI's who find a positive life afterwords.

    My incident was back in August 2011 so I have already been through all the B.S of hiring a lawyer and the courts. I received what is called Adverse Adjudication or some know it as Pretrial diversion. Its not horrible but it has definitely put a HUGE hold on letting me go on with my life. I was bowling and having some beers with some of my close buds that night and i worked at 9am the next day at a job where i carry a firearm. I bowled 11 games and an average of 230 (pretty good for myself) so I thought I was good to drive. Just dumb luck and a bad decision to speed home (54 in a 45) and sleep landed me in jail all night until 12 the next day. Calling your job from jail is never a good time.

    Looking back on it just sitting in jail looking at all the people I was in there with made me realize that that is not the lifestyle for me at all. I remember sitting in the tank with a guy slamming his head against the fiberglass and thinking "holy crap, I'm a good guy but because of a dumb mistake, the world will look at me like i am this guy". The guys who I told that I was bowling and got a DUI all laughed at me and ranted about how awesome the kegger was that they came from with the shots, beer, and whole lot of assorted class 1 drugs. I am 23 with a degree and apparently just needed to grow up. Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way. Every now and then I can get pretty depressed with the results of my life after the DUI. I gave up drinking completely for about 1 month, then I started doing it again because mostly I wanted to, but its also really hard when all of your longtime friends do it. I will never drink and drive again, a taxi and parking ticket (or towing) are way better alternatives to a (dui).

    Thank you, it really is reassuring knowing that I'm not the only person out there like myself (no criminal record besides this) who understands how completely dumb DUI's are and is aggressively trying to regain the sense of normalcy my life once had.

  3. Anti DUI Laws says:

    I say that the DUI laws are way too harsh and the penalties find you guilty before you commit a crime- the crime of drinking and driving is to Crash and Hurt someone ( isn't all this DUI a crime is all about )..The first time DUI offender are handed out a life sentence , which is totally screwy !

    I was exhausted after begin with my kid's chess tournament all day and then having a two shots one after th other and then getting pulled over for speeding on a deserted industrial road- How did it not strike me the police will be sitting out side waiting for dumb people like me ! I crave for that normal life I once had…going over in my head – if only I was slow and not trying to get home ( 5 mins away) in a hurry !

    Unfortunately nothing will change….the laws suck ! In illinois you are not even allowed to get the dui expunged no matter 5 pr 10 years. Did you also know that now you can not travel to Canada without risking to be returned back to USA?

    Dear 23 year old – I so feel for you ! This is what America is doing to you ( our future) keeping you down and low. Messing with your mind and future prospect!I ay a first DUI , they should allow you to expunge your record in 4-5 years and move on with your beautiful wonderful future ! A person with low motivation could easily fall into the others you saw in the cell !

    I am 46 years old mother with two brilliant young kids! Not a single moving violation.I am stay home mother / Registered Nurse.

    I will never drink and drive again, a taxi and parking ticket (or towing) are way better alternatives to a (dui).——-> This in a nutshell !!

  4. Lee says:

    Reading the post and comments are comforting me somewhat. This is my first DUI, no criminal record, one speeding ticket in my history.

    I know I broke the law and what I did was wrong in the eyes of the law, but the whole process actually left me feeling more resentful than remorseful. Sure, there is no excuse for what I did, but I didn't appreciate the way I was treated, and the way I am still being treated. I didn't hurt anyone, didn't cause any property damage, I just sped. I lost my security clearance, I cannot travel to Canada for my clients, I cannot drive a rental car when I am traveling on business, etc. My business is literally tanking, losing clients because of my immobility. While I understand why they have to be so harsh in order to prevent more death caused by drunk drivers, I still think this is way too much for people who really have nothing to do with any accidents. Does it really have to go this far? Do I really deserve all this just because I drove after drinking one night? Do we really have to blame all the death to drunk drivers? Speeding also leads to car crash and accidents as well.

    I know there are many people who literally HATE drunk drivers and think that we are just potential murderers, and the law will only get harsher. But I think one day, this whole thing will be back fired. There is something seriously wrong with this drinking culture and then the law applying to that along with the state trying to make all the money they can.

    I am sure that it will pass just like anything else, with time. I just hope that I can see some sense into this whole thing one day. Right now, I don't.

    • ziggy2003 says:

      To me it makes no sense. So you made a mistake you paid the fines, you did your time, you rehabilitated yourself but this is only the beginning. This thing will mostly haunt you for life or for a very long time unless you move out of the country. This is what I felt like doing when I got my 1st DWI 3 years ago. I just wanted to forget and let bygones be bygones and enjoy my life again, but this thing wont let you. If only I had stayed home that day, if only I had made a left instead of right. If only I had slowed down, but it is too late ! one little mistake can change your fate for ever. It’s just not fair.

    • Sara says:

      I posted to ziggy and I’ll add here too:

      I asked my insurance adjuster about non-drinking accidents. He said,
      sure there are, BUT the drinking ones are always the worse with awful
      injuries. The drunk drivers don’t swerve away at the last minute or
      slow down. So it’s nothing like regular speeding accidents. That’s
      what it’s about. Texting seems to create the same thing. Nothing else
      seems to be as impacting.

      I also talked with a visiting PT the other week who heard “drunk driving” and winced. Turns out she’s found over and over the people who appear for PT 10-15 years after the collision, are always the result of a drunk driver. I asked if they’d done PT to begin with – answer was yes.

      I posted to someone else… that one night was a big risk. I hope youre starting to learn how much a few drinks can effect you. It helps to stop thinking about yourself and think about how it effects others. And to look for ways to contribute to the world, to build back up that sense of self.

        • sara says:

          Ashley – who’s stopping you? That blaming of others and not taking responsiblilty for your life, are part of problem.

          There are many resources and you already know that. Therapists, support groups, friends and family who want you to succeed.

          I’m trying to build up myself from the injuries. No one’s there for me. It’s up to ME! People either can’t relate or can’t deal to hear about it more. But the healing is taking years. So deal. If have to, you can too.

  5. Time Heals says:

    I have to say, I feel the vibe from these posts and mostly agree. It seems to me that the convicted dui's of today are paying for the deaths caused by drunk drivers. In most cases, they are good people who " made mistakes" and got caught, yet are being compared to the dredge of society. The carefully walked thin line is between us. We justify it.

    I just left court a few hours ago and was convicted of a DUI 1st (and last) offense. Lawyer fees, court costs, fines, and mandatory alcohol training will total $10,000 easily after all is said and done, not to mention the insurance rate hikes. I also get the benefit of 5 mandatory days in jail because I blew .15 raising me to the "nasty" level. It is interesting to see how many celebrities and politicians were convicted of .149. Anyway, I will take this and grow from it. The truth is that I feel I got off lucky. When I see victims of drunk drivers, I know how bad it could have been.

    While I disagree with the harsh punishment of 1st offenders, I don't see a better deterrent or solution. We, the upstanding 1st offenders are the deterent once convicted. We are the soldiers of experience without the death we could have caused.

    Is there life after a DUI? Absolutely! Will we or anyone who truely respects us drink and drive? …highly unlikely.

    My hats off to those if us with the resilience and perserverence to get through it. My biggest sadness is for the good people who make this mistake and can't financially afford it. To me, that is unfair. Perhaps fines should be given in percentages of last years income vice just numbers. Say, 3 percent of you last years income was your fine. That would change the perspective of the poor, thinking celebs and rich people didn't have equal punishment.

    Regardless, the bottom line is that there is life after a DUI. You have an experience that unfortunately, many pay much more than we did for. Count the blessings and be strong. If we are really that good, it will shine through.

    • sara says:

      Sounds good Time Heals. Hope you’ve made progress.

      It’s not about being dregs. One can make a mistake. That’s why 1st offense isn’t the same as later ones.

      However, the deaths are often from those who are repeaters. Who are “not that kind of person that’s a criminal” but who seriously don’t think about the risks they are forcing onto other people by getting in a car drunk.

      The person who hit me, get this, drank that morning into lunch, then LEFT HER HOUSE DRUNK. Actually she’s probably lying and drank in town. But says that she figured she could “do it safely.” I paid for her irresponsibly,, after years of being responsible in my life in ultra many ways. She gets to go back to life. I don’t. So for some people they are the “not a criminal” who chooses not to care about other people. It’s about level of compassion for others. Not level of dredge.

      You sound like this was a wake up call and you’ll get on with your life. That’s great. That’s all the system is asking of you.

  6. Life is Complex and says:

    Regrettably, I have recently been arrested for a DWI in New Jersey. The whole situation is my fault and I blame no one else. It is funny how life works. My life goal and dream is to be a successful teacher who inspires students to be strong and learn the differences between right and wrong and grow to become good people and suck the morrow out of life etc. (all that dramatic stuff). For the first couple of weeks after my DWI (I blew a .13, and a little bit of tongue towards the arresting officer, and had an emotional break down the following day) I beat myself up, felt sad, and couldn't go through the day without going into manic states of depression. However, now that I look back on it, if I want to be a good teacher for my potential future students, then I will take this whole situation and learn from it; use it to my advantage and to the advantage of others. There is no point in drowning yourself in past mistakes. The past is the past. If you got lucky and are still alive, didn't hurt anyone, and have good health and the apsirations to do more with your life- you will be fine. All there is to be known is this: we define the meaning of our lives by how we let the course of our actions affect our lives; and by how we choose to live after we make a mistake. The final judgment is not decided by the man in a black gown, but by one's inner strength and will to become better at living their own life. Thank you all for posting your experiences. I still feel terrible about getting my DWI. I will probably feel that way for a while. Yet we are not alone. It is a rock in the road, and it can be moved.

  7. MoneySackz says:

    What I find interesting is that EVERY commenter had a DUI and felt the punishment was too harsh yet they will NEVER drink and drive again.  I think the laws are definitely doing the job they were intended to do. 

    • Mary says:

      I was a traffic engineer, gave back to the community through doing traffic safety analysis and designing roads/intersections for years. I was a candidate for Teach for America to teach math and science in high-need schools and was going to be starting graduate school in a month. I was stopped while visiting family in Virginia and refused the breathalyzer test(I was only offered one at the scene, which I have the right to refuse, but the police never offered me one at the station). I was charged with DUI, refusal, and Obstruction of Justice because the officer said I had an attitude. I had bruises on my arm for weeks from the officer grabbing my arm to put me in the police car. The entire night in jail was traumatizing.

      Since the case came down to a he said/she said, of course the judge would favor the cop.

      One night, one drink, and a tail light out lead to humiliation, thousands of dollars in court and lawyer fees, months of fear until my court date, I couldn’t start my graduate program because I had to stay in the state of VA where it happened, lost my opportunity with Teach for America, won’t be able to get security clearance or work for the govt. which is necessary for my career in transportation engineering, I will have huge challenges in becoming a licensed engineer and teacher since I have a “criminal record”, have no transportation since there is horrible public transportation every where I live and a criminal record that now prevents me from accomplishing every selfless career path that I was on…so you tell me MoneySackz, when these law punishments deter and hinder a person from accomplishing their potential to be as valuable as they can to society is that “doing the job they were intended to do”?

      • ziggy2003 says:

        People who speed and cause fatal accidents are not treated as harshly as people who have been convicted of a DUI who have not caused any accidents or property damage. This just does not seem fair.

        • Sara says:

          I asked my insurance adjuster about non-drinking accidents. He said, sure there are, BUT the drinking ones are always the worse with awful injuries. The drunk drivers don’t swerve away at the last minute or slow down. So it’s nothing like regular speeding accidents. That’s what it’s about. Texting seems to create the same thing. Nothing else seems to be as impacting.

          • hereverycentcounts says:

            That’s probably true. But then again there must be a difference between BAC levels… over a .15 or .20 would be the type that don’t stop. I’d bet that .08 – .15 (depending on the person) – if they weren’t speeding esp – would have reasonable reaction times, similar to a person who is tired or distracted while driving. But the penalty for DUI is much much worse.

      • Merry says:

        THIS THIS THIS. It’s not about rehabilitation and turning “criminals” into valuable members of a society (which is filled to the brim with people driving drunk every day)… it’s about punishment and money.

        The only thing I wanted to be was a teacher, and now I can never be one. If I really was an alcoholic, that would drive me to drink. The reason everyone here is saying they’ll never do it again is because the process breaks you down… my life is ruined. But an eye for a hypothetical eye, right?

  8. speedy says:

    You and your dui sounds almost exactly like mine…I was out with the girls drank 3 glasses of wine but i added 2 shots right before i left that a group bought me. I dont even like shots…But i had been drinking for about 6 hours and thats all i had…i got pulled over for speeding and weaving..went to jail in my nice outfit and the women in there slept and acted like it was no big deal….i was freaking out..Im a church going, single, professional woman that made a mistake…i even left my husband because he was an alcoholic and did the very same thing…i havent been to court yet and i am so afraid of the changes that are going to happen…I hope I can afford all this. There is no public transportation in this little town so ill have to bum rides…Do you know how low I feel asking my son to haul me places…LOW…

  9. Sara says:

    With .08 to .1 – you are NOT able to drive just fine. That’s the point. Hopefully by now, you’ve received classes and learned more, and know this now.

    On the self-loathing. We all make mistakes. No need to go there.

    What’s interesting to me in most of these posts, is how little is about the dangerousness, and what risk you gave to others. How do I know .08-.1 isn’t safe? Because my life is permanently damaged by someone with that reading (1hr after collision). She wasn’t fine and she ran right into me, though the red light. (Me driving. Her into my my seat.)

    So I get this is upsetting. But one way to feel better is to start counting your luck. You didn’t hit anyone. You didn’t kill anyone. You made a mistake. That’s all. You’ll unfortunately have to explain it for years to come. Many people, especially older people, will understand the idea of “mistake.” And that will be all this will amount to. At least you won’t be making a bigger and hard to deal with mistake that will really impact your life. In dealing with the injuries, what I do to feel better from that “my life as I know it is over” feeling — is do things for others, do positive things for myself, and remember how terribly bad it could have been. Believe me, there are much worse things that could happen to you than this. Even getting someone pregnant and deciding what to do — much harder, much worse.

    In the end, this may safe your life from some other horrible mistake because now you are wiser. This may have been good luck. Doesn’t feel it, but it’s possible.

    So find some way to give back to the community to build up your brownie points both in your own mind and with others. And I hope by now you know that you after drinking, are no judge of whether you can drive.

    • acadia1106 says:

      Says who!
      It used to be .10 was the limit. They lowered, why, because it got them more money. The number of accident involving drinking statistically has not decreased despite the tolerance level being lowered to .08. It’s an arbitrary number because in fact anything other than no drinks can impair your ability to drive. So, if the intent was really to prevent all driving and drinking related accidents, the number should be 0. It like the rest of most traffic courts is about making money.

      • Sara says:

        No they lowered it because .10 is very unable to drive, and .08 is a better measure. At .08, testing shows substantial impairment in judgement & driving skills.

        Money is the excuse used by those who don’t want to face the issue.

        Your logic on 0 being required for intent to stop drunk driving has major flaws. They want to leave room for slightly impacted where your motor skills aren’t deadly. There’s a huge difference between 1-2 drinks, and 3-4 drinks, which is why casual drinking with a meal usually is socially considered 1-2 drinks. The stats do show an decrease with the move to .08, depending on what stats you use.

        If you believe your comment, then obviously, you consider it necessary to never drive after drinking… correct.

        To the moderator – I had a long post to the original poster, that isn’t showing up? Is it hiding around somewhere & waiting? (I hope so, it was heartfelt.)

        • hereverycentcounts says:

          Sara, let me know if your post isn’t showing up. I approved all posts on this entry as long as they weren’t really mean. :)

          I personally believe the law should be 0% BAC for driving. It’s just less confusing and then it’s fair as women can drink a lot less than men for the same BAC. Cops actually target women because they know women who have had just two glasses of something can be over the .08% BAC – it’s pretty easy to catch a women for a DUI while much harder for a guy.

          • Joy says:

            Especially because most bars/restaurants do not serve “one serving” in one drink. You end up with much more than you think.

    • Merry says:

      I’m not that interested in winning brownie points in a society filled with people who drink and drive all the time and get away with it but have the balls to judge us as evil. But yes, I’ll do it for myself.

  10. hereverycentcounts says:

    I’m glad my blog could help. I never thought I’d become a role model for people who have gotten DUIs — but there are many good people out there who make one mistake and end up ruining part of their life for this. It’s important to forgive yourself (you didn’t hurt anyone!) and recognize that you made a mistake, and commit to not doing it again. I have no remorse for people convicted of more than one DUI. The first time, ok, so you make a mistake, you don’t know the rules, you don’t really understand what your BAC is when you feel a certain way. After that happens, just don’t drink and drive, period. It’s cheaper to take a taxi, get a hotel, not go out. But forgive yourself for the first one. Forgive but don’t forget. Don’t become a statistic and get another one or worse.

  11. hereverycentcounts says:

    I believe it. I’m lucky that I had a bf who helped me out and no kids to have to take places. I could hide my DUI from the people who would judge me (to this day my parents have no clue about it) and I’ve been able to mostly move on with my life. But people who took the DUI class with me – some of them were reckless drivers who probably will kill someone one day – and others were older people who just made a mistake, and clearly were at risk of suicide. I was worried about them. The DUI programs do nothing to prevent this.

  12. Lm says:

    I’m glad you learned your lesson. As someone who has lost someone because of a drunk driver I can tell you that the laws are not harsh enough. Be thankful you got stopped by police. What if you had driven a little further and got into an accident and killed someone. How would you live with yourself then. Sadly most of the time the people that get hurt and killed are innocent people like my family member. I’m sorry to say that as soon as someone makes a “mistake” that can destroy an innocent family forever, they have no right for sympathy. They chose to make the mistake and they should deal with it themselves. Why should the rest of the world have sympathy for someone who could have potentially killed someone we love.
    It really is impossible to explain to someone how horrific it is to lose a loved one to a drunk driver unless they have personally been through it. The pain and horror each family member is left with are the real horrors of drunk driving. Losing a mother, sister, friend are the true consequences and that is more difficult and painful to deal with than any financial struggles created by your own stupid ” mistake”.

    • hereverycentcounts says:

      Lm – as noted in previous comments I’m torn on this. On one hand, I 100% agree that there needs to be a way to stop drunk driving as it clearly can cause harm to others. I take ownership of my mistake and am glad I was taught this lesson. However, there are many other things that can make driving much more dangerous (ie speeding, distracted driving/texting) which aren’t considered misdemeanors. Yes drunk driving is bad but it is specifically called out by the law because of the lobbies behind it. Again, I’m not arguing that it shouldn’t be penalized, but I’m sure someone who lost a family member or friend due to someone speeding would say that speeding should be treated with the same harsh laws. Why do we just penalize drunk driving? Furthermore, the actual crime system itself often enables those who have more money to get away with their drunk driving as they can hire a good lawyer who gets them out of this, but people who are not able to afford a good lawyer end up with $10,000 in fines etc. I’m not saying the $10k fines isn’t deserved, but that the legal system is not fair so the people who end up paying for this are often those who cannot afford it, sending them into a further cycle of depression. These are the people who were in my “drunk driving classes” who I fear will be repeat offenders. The actual program does nothing to help them deal with their actual problems. They are the people who laugh it off and continue to drive even when their license is revoked. These are the people who end up with 2, 3, 4 or more DUIs. They say 50% of people with DUIs will be a repeat offender. That’s nuts. If that’s a real stat, then there’s something wrong with the program. If people have to pay $10,000 then that program should do more in helping treat their issues (ie depression, or worse.) Even I’ll admit to being extremely depressed and anxious the day I made that really bad decision. I waited for my BAC to go down but not long enough. Had I waited another half hour I would have been below the legal limit. I actually now think that the BAC law should be 0% for everyone so it’s not confusing (women get higher BACs much easier than men – cops tend to stop women more for drunk driving because of this, they know they are any easy target after much less to drink) AND speeding above a certain amount, distracted driving, etc, should be treated the same way (misdemeanors) because these too can kill other people and do.

  13. e123 says:

    I was just pulled over for a DUI. I feel stupid and ashamed. I am horrified by what could have happened. I have not been not eating or sleeping. I am never drinking again, it made me a callous monster who would risk other peoples lives. I am seeking counciling because I really need to talk to someone. I think I am also going to get an interlock regardless of how this goes. Just in case I slip and that monster comes back.

    • sara says:

      e123 – congratulations, great attitude. This will be behind you soon with that approach. You made a mistake. You understand that it’s about risking others. We’ll all done dumb in our time. So now be sober whenever near a motor, and life will be fine.

  14. Ratburger says:

    My ex-girlfriend got DUI #2 and I was just so sick and tired of her drunken antics is the reason I dumped her at a bar. Some of my friends are betting how fast she will get DUI #3

  15. Deb says:

    I received my first DUI last year in August. To say I was ashamed is putting it VERY lightly. I had list over 20lbs, refused to go outside, cried anytime I thought about it (which was every minute of every day), lived in fear, anxiety and panic. The worst part, my child. My child knew what may have happened but kinda didn’t. Imagine how awful I felt being a role model for someone, teaching them right from wrong, and here I go making the biggest wrong of all time! I went to the classes and group sessions which helped a great deal. I was labeled “the cryer” but it was okay. I made a good friend in the class who happened to work for a police department in the forensics dept. She was great support for me. I saw how merciful her employer was, and I pray everyday mine is too. I haven’t told them but if it comes to that I just pray I don’t lose a job that I love. I went through every type of therapy imaginable: one on one, acupuncture, yoga, seeing a clairvoyant, boot camp…I did anything to try and release the awful pain I had in my mind of being such a failure. Here I am, almost a year later. I have my license back and life seems to have returned to normal. I have to tell myself forcibly, “Stop thinking about it, you are okay and you didn’t hurt anybody.” The experience still remains in the forefront of my mind but I keep it at bay most of the time. I have to try and live normally, for my daughter and myself. I have to enjoy life because it was a mistake. Reading this blog, I see I’m not alone. Take it one day at a time, don’t think about the future, just live in the now, that’s what mattes. You will kill yourself with worry and anxiety if you try to look forward and think of things that could happen.

  16. Renee says:

    My Nordstrom dress that I picked up from the juniors department”…. You sound so shallow & self-absorbed. It’s understandable why you having a drinking problem. Only thing worse than an alcoholic is a narcissistic alcoholic. You can’t give up drinking bc you need it to fit in? That’s very sad really.

    • Passing Stranger says:

      That seems harsh … I don’t think the author comes across as alcoholic, narcissistic, or bizarre – rather I found her account of this episode to be very ”real”, earnest and a little raw – endearingly authentic even.

    • Susan says:

      The grammer comment belongs here. The sad thing is I would be willing to bet money this extremely judgemental person. Has at least once in her life had a glass of wine or similar drink and drove. She just got lucky and was not caught.

  17. Renee says:

    And in regards to other things that have the original to distract drivers such as texting, those things are illegal! There’s no reason to be distracted by anything while you’re driving regardless of the potential penalty should you cause an accident or whatever. Being salty bc you hit aDUI & the think the penalty is too high is ridiculous. You’re really just a bizarre person!!!

    • Susan says:

      The laws are too strict period. If a person was not driving reckless and did not have any accidents then they should not have to deal with these insane laws.

      • sara says:

        Susan – just because you didn’t happen to hit a person when your shot your gun wildly into a crowd, doesn’t mean you did okay. That’s the point. That’s the risk you’ve caused to others. You got lucky. But for everyone who’s lucky, there are those of us who got hit.

  18. GB says:

    Renee, I agree with “Passing Stranger” that it’s a bit harsh to say that. When something significant like this happens, it’s normal to recall certain details that you focused on during the event. While we’re all responsible for our actions, the experience is often perceived as traumatic by the individual. We take notice to small details and those details often haunt us. I can remember what I wore, what I said, etc etc. I focus on those aspects often so that’s why it’s relevant to the story. For instance, I almost didn’t put on the shirt I was wearing when I was cited for OWI because I felt like the memories would haunt me throughout the day.

    • sara says:

      GB – I can understand how traumatizing it can be. It would be for me too.

      I’m on the flip side. I don’t remember the details. Not anything for about 10 minutes before or 3 days afterward. I can’t put on my shirt from that day. It was my favorite tee shirt, the one that I got complements in. It disappeared apparently too bloody after they cut it off of me.

      So be grateful that you got through it. Bottle up the worries, and focus on the details of what it’s like to be on the other side, done and ready for life.

  19. GB says:

    First of all, thank you everyone for taking the time to write here… whether it is a positive or negative post, I think we all benefit from hearing multiple stories, multiple outlooks on the situations, and discussing how we all can move forward.

    I think the most relevant thing that was discussed here is that the punishments for drunk driving are not effective at solving the true problem behind the crime. Often, punishments are simply acknowledgements that the individual has violated the law, or more simply put, “screwed up”. They don’t aim to actually solve the issue of why the person abuses alcohol, society’s emphasis on overindulgence of alcohol, and the lifelong impact that the event will have on the individual. Punishment and consequences are necessary for any crime, but when they make an individual unable to gain employment, handicaps them financially (fines should be based on income, not a set dollar amount so that it is more appropriate/fair), and does not allow for the the individual to make amends (not all states allow records to be expunged), we unfortunately create a damaging situation that will likely lead to further incidents of drinking, drinking and driving, drug use, depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

    Cigarette companies are not allowed to advertise their products due to the harm that they cause, yet as long as an alcohol commercial advertises “be safe, don’t drink and drive” they’re allowed to advertise a product that is just as addictive and devastatingly harmful. lists the following fact: “Alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes today About 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have been drinking. Crimes include: rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault. About two-thirds of violent crimes are characterized as simple assaults.”

    ….Yet we still advertise a product that is habitually used as and socially marketed as (and accepted as) a dangerous binge drinking and habit forming product that creates “fun”. I am in no way arguing that alcohol needs to be banned, but I do think that our culture needs to shift to promoting and encouraging sobriety instead of socially punishing others for it. I’m not blaming the companies or the government, this is a change that we need to make individually so that when we do realize we’ve made a mistake (whether we think it’s little or big… obviously they’re all serious mistakes though), we can be feel confident that we’re going to be accepted for the decision to remain sober instead of being the “odd man out”. However, I think it’s positive to view that situation as being the one who will stand up to many, instead of the one who will bow to all.

    Those involved with DUI/OWI offense are guilty. “One little mistake” isn’t a term I like to use. I made a mistake, a huge one. I can’t time travel, I can’t take it back. Although I struggle to accept myself after doing something as horrible as this, I am more upset that I risked others lives, the future of my young daughter, and disappointed those that look to me as a role model. However, this event HAD to happen in order for me to change so I thank God that this opportunity has been given to me.

    I may have made my life’s road more difficult to traverse because of this, but through it I will become stronger and work harder. I’ll have to do more, worker harder, and help others I wouldn’t normally have been associated with. My success will be determined by my actions after this. I may have some doors close, but I’ll be diligent in my search to find those that will open. To those willing to give me a chance to prove myself with my future actions as opposed to my former mistakes.

    I wish you all the best. The posts here truly helped me in knowing that I’m not alone. I’m not talking to too many people about the incident at this moment and the days before my court date are haunted by guilt and depression, but I am determined to overcome this just as I’ve overcome other hardships in my life. We all can. I hope everyone recognizes that you can still be a good person who made a bad decision. Let all of your future decisions be positive and change your lives, as well as others’ lives, for the better. Here’s where we become better. This is the time we reach our true potential. Some of us may have been in denial about our problems, our reasons of why we drink, and our careless decisions. Rejoice that you have an opportunity to address those issues and make your life better.

    I know we worry about our reputations; how family, friends, employers, and even our children view us after an event like this – but let that go. Know that we’ll show others our true selves by how we react to being knocked down. Get back up… no matter how difficult it is. Show your strength. Do your best to stop dwelling on the mistake, accept it, deal with the consequences knowing that within times things will soon be closer to normal than they are now.

    We did something horribly wrong, now let’s go out and do a lot of amazing things right.

    If anyone needs to talk, feel free to contact me at Good luck to you all.

  20. hopeful says:

    My husband is and always will be an alcoholic. I say this because though he has quit drinking it would only take one time for him to fall off the wagon. He had his second DUI four years ago we were a very young couple when we got together and at the time immaturity was a huge part of him like many of his age group work and the bar went hand in hand. We got together and not to long after became pregnant with our triplets one passed away very early on in the pregnancy my husband was scared stiff of becoming a father I could see it in his eyes none the less he took on his responsabilities we both worked so maintaining a income was not hard but he did not give up easy when it came to his old habits and single life. Eventually all the stresses accumulated and he broke he decided to drink and then he drove receiving his second DUI first one was before him and I got together. But it had a huge effect on my babies and I as we didn’t have him at home and he served time followed the steps required to take courses to deal with his addiction and the programs to help him get his license he has got an interlock box and has been committed to taking it seriously we now have a second set of twins and money is an issue we live on one income not two like before because our older two are in school and are youngs are only one it is very difficult.I do believe the program works but I also feel it is flawed there is not a fool proof way to only detect alcohol on the person and so many items that may not be used it is one of the worst setups I have seen and if anything it has caused not only financial stresson our family but mental strain and stress for my husband. I wish there were something that could be done in order for the program to not be flawed from outside sources such as wiper fluid and perfume yeasts what kind of nonsense ir should be calibrated for the exact driver.The hardest part is watching my husband try to grow as a man but be held back by a mistake he made over six years ago it feels like a life sentence and all we want is to enjoy raising our children and never let that poor behavior happen again. So thank you for sharing your story and I wish you the best in your future endeavors (just be the best version of yourself you can be ) quoted that saying but it means everything

  21. Kimberly Pearson says:

    Im truly amazed because I wasnt drinking or under the influence of any drugs and still I’m haing problems obtaining my liscense…MY STORY: Years ago 2011 to be exact while living in Iowa I drove to Illinois only to be stopped by an officer who says I was under the influence ,was arrested but never given any test and had my SUV impounded . I did however end up contesting everything and the charges were dismissed and I even got repaid for the impoundment,HOWEVER since then I never renewed my liscense with Iowa since my SUV died on me some time after this all happened.Moved back to Illinois without a vehicle ,Well 2015 I was given another SUV for my birthdayGREAT RIGHT?! NOOO because this week I find out after attempting to get a drivers liscense in Illinois…the good state of Iowa had revoked my liscense back in 2011 anyway even though the charges of a DUI from Illinois were dropped!!!! So in order for me to get a liscense I have to pay a 200 fine,attend driving school AND get counseling and be evaluated by Iowa before I can get any liscense….I am going crazy!

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Hi, I really appreciate this post and empathize 100%. Like others on here, I made the same mistake and I know it was so wrong. I feel like I let other people upset me and my emotions take over my life for a minute and this landed me so far off track that I can’t even see the track anymore. This was an awakening and I’m afraid like another post said that this will haunt me for a very long time. Luckily I didn’t hurt anyone permanently either and I am thankful for that everyday. It’s so hard for me to forgive myself. I read about the canada restriction too and it’s horrible to think there’s another country out there that thinks you are a danger enough to their people to keep you out, I understand it though and don’t blame them. I know I have cost myself around $10,000.00 and a year of my life to recover mentally, legally, and financially. I am also lucky I have the resources to attempt to fix my mistake. Nothing reduces the guilt I feel and I don’t see that going away anytime soon. I enrolled in an alcohol program as a proactive effort to show in serious about doing better and making things right. I would do anything they asked, interlock, more classes whatever they said to avoid permanent damage to my record. Unfortunately the laws are not consistent and the county prosecuting me is tough. I understand it, but I wish there was some way to prove I have learned my lesson without it following me around for be next 10 years. There is no Pre trial program or diversion designed for this in my county. I try to be positive, but I’m just guilty and upset all the time. This post was comforting and I appreciate it. I am indescribably sorry for what I did and would give anything to take it back. The only thing to do now is to do whatever I can to make it as right as I am able.

  23. Susan says:

    It has been 9 years since my only DWI conviction. My life is still a nightmare because of it. When it comes to future employment it really screws you over. People assume your an alcoholic. I am not even the courts said I was not. I do not drink all the time like people would think. People assume you were driving totally crazy like on the wrong side of the street or something. I was not. I was not even swerving on the road. I was out late and speeding by 10 mph over the speed limit. Every job you manage to get if your lucky ???? treats you like you must be a drug addict, alcoholic and problem. Despite the fact you do not do drugs, your not an alcoholic and well that was 9 years ago. Many employer’s will not hire you at despite being qualified and the charge having absolutely nothing to do with your job or chosen profession. To strict yes the laws are definitely way to strict.

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