Wow, I’ve received a lot of hate mail (comments) regarding the blog posts on the consequences of getting a DUI. It seems my post got picked up by The Consumerist, which sent a slew of angry people over to my blog to yell at me. Welcome new readers. 🙂
I wanted to respond, even though it’s clear that people who are angry about anything will never budge in their opinion of you. First things first, I will never, ever have a drink and think about getting near a car again. There was a comment about how I sound like I’m not sorry I drove drunk, I’m sorry I got caught. Here’s the truth — I’m glad I got caught. I’m not glad that I have to deal with everything that goes along with this experience, but clearly what I did was wrong — whether I was caught or not — driving with a .12% BAC. I am embarrassed by this. I did not eat all day, the bartender kept refilling my glass, and the situation somehow got out of control. This doesn’t excuse what happened, I’m just framing the situation — I drink once or twice a year. I am the same person who often grabs keys from friends when they get in cars to drive anywhere after having a few drinks at the bar. I’m the one who is constantly judging coworkers for getting behind the wheel after having a few beers at happy hour, when I just drink water.
This doesn’t excuse that I was stupid, and that I got into a car when I was intoxicated. The real point of the story I want to make is that you stay “drunk” for a long long time after you’ve stopped drinking. I waited three hours after my last beverage, and I wasn’t taking shots either. I had three glasses of wine over the course of the evening, and then I waited three hours. And I thought I was ok to drive. The truth is I did not get pulled over for driving poorly. I pulled over by choice, after I drove a half block, because I realized the three hours wasn’t enough, and a cop walked up to my car because I was seen by another citizen walking to my car and wobbling in my heels. This is not an excuse. This is just what happened. I shouldn’t have even gotten in the car. But, reality is, when you’re more intoxicated than you think you are, your judgement isn’t rational.
Here is why I am glad I was arrested that night — I might not have hurt anyone that night because I was clearly not pulled over for poor driving, at some point in the future, who knows when, I might have been just a little more drunk, and I could have hurt someone.
One commenter writes — “This is what is wrong with people. You screw up and instead of admitting fault you get a lawyer to try and sleeze your way out of something. You should have gotten jail time.”
I did get jail time. Maybe not as much as you (commenter) would like to have seen, but I spent the night in jail, and also need to do 5 days of SWAP volunteer duty or go to jail for five days. The courts would prefer that I do SWAP because of the overcrowding in the jails. For me — miss goody two shoes — one night in jail is enough to scare the crap out of me to never do this again. But I can see why for others the punishment, in that sense, isn’t enough to really teach them a lesson. This goes for all the multiple offenders. It seems once you get one DUI, everyone pretty much assumes you will get a second. A lot of the punishment for getting one DUI is that the second time you get one, you’re really screwed. I kept telling the lawyer that it didn’t matter about the second punishment in terms of the court’s ruling, because I am not going to let this ever happen again. I guess no one really believes me. I’ll just have to prove everyone wrong.
I agree that for a lot of people, the cost of a DUI doesn’t teach them to never drink and drive again. When I was in jail the night I was arrested, I was in a holding cell with two other woman — one was in there for her second DUI, the other was in for some combination of drugs and alcohol, for the third or fourth time. No matter the penalty, most people don’t learn. What I learned is that my body cannot drink three glasses of wine, wait three hours, and expect to be sober. I learned that there is no good way (short of a really expensive breathalizer) to determine if I’m intoxicated or not after having anything to drink, so the smart thing to do is to not get behind a wheel the same day I have something to drink. My boyfriend fully supports this, and as he doesn’t like drinking, has volunteered to be my permanent designated driver.
Sure, when I write on here, it may be “woe is me I got caught” because, of course it sucks to get in trouble, to be a convicted criminal, to do something so stupid and clearly get called out for it. To the person who commented who got hit by a drunk driver when they were little and was disfigured, I know there’s a lot of anger behind that towards drunk drivers, and rightfully so. I’m not saying that my behavior should be excused, or that my punishment is too much or too little. It just is what it is. I write on this blog about the various parts of my life that effect my finances, and this is clearly one of them.
If you expect me to not be sorry I got caught, then you’re asking me to not be human. But I welcome my conviction all the same, because it did teach me a lesson, a really big, expensive lesson, and I can make a promise to myself, and to everyone else in the world, that I’ll never have to be taught that lesson again.