Life happens. Mistakes are made. How the rest of your life turns out depends on how quickly you’re able to bounce back, as well as how you’re able to turn things around and not make the same mistakes again.
It’s been six months since pleading “no contest” to my DUI arrest at .08% BAC, and 10 months since the actual evening of the arrest. I’ve gone through many phases after the arrest, including depression, shame, guilt, anger, and now, coping and trying to move on.
I’ve been without a car for months now — thought I’m eligible to register for a restricted license to get to work, I’ve been avoiding that and driving because I’m scared to let myself get near a car. On Monday, I’ve finally made myself a DMV appointment to purchase a restricted license. This summer, once my classes are over, I should be able to get a full license and attempt to bring my life back to normal, or better yet, move forward to a place I’ve never been — in control, and in charge of my own happiness.
In my DUI class the other day, we had to do an exercise called “the 12 hours before your DUI.” It had a series of multiple choice questions, that because with — “was it on a usual or unusual day?” For me, it was an unusual day. I was having a huge bought of anxiety and hadn’t moved from my bed for the entire day, not even to eat. I don’t even remember why I was so stressed, but I was having a bad enough panic attack that I requested to work from home that day. Then, around 5pm I decided it would be best to force myself to get out of the house and go to a meetup event, where I could try to be social and get myself some food. Unfortunately, instead of food, there was only wine and a lot more anxiety. So I had four or so glasses to drink on a very empty stomach.
The questionnaire went on to ask what time you started drinking, where you were, and what time you were arrested. I started at 7pm, finished at 9:30pm, and was arrested around 12:30pm. Why were you arrested? My option was “other.” Most people in the class had been pulled over for driving poorly. I have the lowest BAC in the class at .08%. Most people had .14% or higher, with a few .20% and higher. Some stories are so crazy (like the guy who got arrested with three kids in the back seat and a .24% and, because he had a good lawyer, got less of a punishment than I did with my .08% and no traffic violation) or the woman who was drinking all day and ended up driving with a .22% to help her friend out who forgot her seizure medication at a party. Most people were celebrating, a few had been drinking all night, went to sleep and woke up the next morning to drive, only to get a DUI because the alcohol hadn’t left their system.
At the end, the questionnaire asked four final questions:
1. Do you feel responsible for the events leading up to your DUI?
2. Do you think it was fair that you were arrested?
3. How likely are you to get a DUI again?
4. How hard will it be for you to get a second DUI?
We’re told that 40% of first DUI offenders will get a second DUI. That seems ridiculously high, but in forcing myself to answer these questions honestly, I understood why.
1. Do you feel responsible for the events leading up to your DUI? Yes, entirely.
2. Do you think it was fair that you were arrested? Somewhat. I think it was unfair I was arrested that night because someone called 911 on me walking to my car — not even because I was driving poorly — and all of the videos they force us to watch show accidents with people who had .15% or higher — but I also am glad they did because it was much better to learn this lesson on a night I was just barely over the legal limit, then another night when I might have been more depressed, more intoxicated, and hurt someone. I still think it is unfair how people who have clearly had a lot more to drink end up with the same punishment or even lesser punishment if they have good lawyers.
3. How likely are you to get a DUI again? Very unlikely. I wanted, so desperately, to put that it definitely wouldn’t happen, but then I wanted to be honest.
4. How hard will it be for you not to get a second DUI? The only real way for me to guarantee that I will never get a DUI again is to stop drinking. Of course when I’m sober I can say I wouldn’t drive after I drink, but the problem is that when you drink you think irrationally. I’m a lightweight, and after even one drink my logic goes to shit. I am glad that this experience after the DUI is so frustrating — because it’s easier to “forget” paying $10k over the years, but it’s not easy to forget the night in jail, the five days of SWAP program where I was a part time convict and freedoms were taken away from me, and now, this year of my life which has been really difficult due to not having a car, putting a great deal of stress on not only my life, but also my boyfriend’s life, as he has so kindly helped drive me over the year. Somehow I’m managed to maintain my job this last year, but I’ve been severely depressed, and have gained more than 20 pounds, now at my largest weight ever. I feel so out of control, and so I just eat and eat. This is another reason I must get my life back in order.