Tag Archives: court

DUI Don’t — A Tale of Court and Paying for my Sins

Since this post was featured on The Consumerist today, I’ve received a lot of hate mail & comments regarding my DUI. Many of you say that I clearly don’t feel sorry for driving drunk, I only feel sorry for getting caught. The truth of the matter is — I feel stupid for driving drunk. I’m the same girl who got angry in high school drivers ed when 90% of the class was about drunk driving because I didn’t touch alcohol until I was 21, and most of the other kids in my class drank on a regular basis. I never thought that I would end up with a DUI.

I do not think I would have hurt anyone that night given I wasn’t driving erratically any more than other times when I was exhausted or distracted while driving (fact is I wasn’t stopped for driving, I was parked at the time I was approached by the cop) — but I can’t know what the outcome would have been. The reason I’m glad I was arrested that night is because that night or another night, who knows when, I could have been in a worse state and got behind the wheel. I could have hurt someone… I could have killed someone.

I drink maybe once or twice a year, and it’s easy to forget just how intoxicated one gets when you are not used to alcohol or what it does to you. Do I feel upset about being caught? Sure. It sucks to be caught. It sucks to have to spend time in jail, be a criminal, and pay massive fines. But I needed a wake up call, and ultimately I’m thankful to have gotten one.

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Original post:

Don’t ever get a DUI… and don’t ever get a DUI in Santa Clara County, is what I learned this week. Any DUI lawyer will tell you that it’s tough to fight a DUI charge if your BAC was higher than .08%, regardless of whether you were lawfully arrested, but they all get your hopes up a little bit so you hire them to represent you in court.

Just a quick reminder of how I was arrested… someone called 911 on me because i was “wobbling” walking to my car (wearing high heels, mind you). I had about three glasses of wine, and stopped drinking at 9:30pm, and didn’t get into my car until midnight. Apparently I’m one heck of a lightweight. I drove around the corner and pulled over, realizing that I shouldn’t be driving. Just my luck a cop party was happening across the street, waiting to catch people leaving the bars. I was parked, a cop walked up to my car and knocked on my door, asked me to step out, and eventually arrested me for BAC of .12%, which later at the station was .10%, still well over the legal limit. I completely take responsibility for this stupidity and am clearly guilty, yet the reason I was arrested (because some woman decided I seemed drunk because I was wobbling in my high heels) is still bothersome. Granted, I was, so ok, I deserve whatever was coming to me.

When I got my DUI, I wasn’t in the mood to shop around for the best lawyer or one with the best price. I asked my friend who I knew had a DUI before for advice, and she pointed me to the lawyer I ended up with, who was a “friend of her family,” for what that’s worth. He seemed to know what he was talking about, and for $3,000 I could have his full representation in court both for my DUI and also for a traffic ticket that I needed to fight due to the DUI. $3,000 was a lot, but if it meant I might be able to fight the DUI, it was worth it — wasn’t it? Continue reading

The DUI & Ticket Saga Continues

If you haven’t been closely following my DUI saga, the basic gist of the story is that after three hours of not drinking I got in my car, drove a block, pulled over because I realized I was still somewhat intoxicated, and next thing I know a cop was knocking my window asking me to step out of the car because someone called 911 on me due to seeing me get into my car in the parking garage.

I take full responsibility for my actions and believe I deserve the fullest punishment to the extent of the law — though in reality everyone tells you to fight the DUI conviction to at least try to get a wet reckless, which is still a misdemeanor, but has a slightly less harsh punishment.

But then there’s a separate DMV case that has to be won or lost irregardless of the result of the criminal trial. The whole thing is a huge headache, which besides the cost of the lawyer and fine, is such a major waste of time. Boys and girls, I highly advise you not to drink, wait three hours, think your sober and drive. If you’re going to be driving, don’t drink at all. Much easier than this mess. Continue reading

Tales of a DUI: The worst is still to come

If you follow my blog, you know that last month I had three glasses of wine, waited three hours, thought I was ok to drive, drove one block from a parking garage and pulled over realizing I wasn’t ok to drive, and managed to pull over across the street from five cop cars waiting, patiently, to catch anyone leaving the bars that might be remotely intoxicated. I didn’t even get pulled over, the cop knocked on my window after I parked.

You can read my earlier post of the details, but the short of the story is that I made a mistake, and now I have to pay for it. Thank goodness I’m not in debt, that I’m single, and that my financial responsibilities are too myself. Still, the whole procedures of having a giant DUI stamp on your head are, rightfully so, a giant pain. Hopefully you’ll never have to experience this in person, but so far I’ve spent $3,000 on a lawyer, expect to spend $2,000 on a fine, and who knows how much more in car insurance once I’m found guilty or take a plea bargain. Then there’s also the cost of the drunk driving classes, the cost of missing work for court and DMV hearings, and the cost of any interest you need to pay on loans to cover all of those fees.

Beyond the dollars lost, getting a DUI is, I hear, another 10 years of headaches. Again, I take getting a DUI seriously, and have learned my lesson and then some. That doesn’t change how frustrating the whole experience is, once you get in trouble the first time. This is probably true for any criminal occurrences, but I find it odd that you’re arrested, go to jail, let go in a few hours, and then you’re in this waiting period of freedom for a month or more before they have time to hear your case. It wasn’t clear at all how much I should pay for a lawyer, or if a lawyer is really going to make a difference in the result of my case. I was so frustrated by the situation that I didn’t want to “shop around” or negotiate like I normally would. One of my friends had a DUI a few years ago, so I asked her what to do, she recommended this lawyer, and I just said OK. I was incredibly ashamed and embarrassed and didn’t want to think about it or talk about it any more than necessary.

After getting a DUI, you have 10 days to request a temporary license from the DMV (at least in California.) Then you have another DMV meeting about a month after that. There’s another hearing, in court, to set the date of your pre-trial arraignment. Apparently the first DMV hearing can be attended by your lawyer, and you don’t have to be there. Same thing goes for the first court hearing. Then you don’t have to go to the second DMV hearing, but you can, and it may help. And you’re required to go to the pre-trial arraignment in court. After that, I think how it works is that you can take a plea bargain. I assume this will come with the big fine, requirement to attend what I like to call “I’m a dumbass” courses, weekender work (free orange vests and sun!), and likely a license suspension for a month plus five months of a limited license that lets me drive only to work and back. Plus, for 10 years I have this on my record, which really isn’t too bad unless you get a second DUI (which I won’t), but it apparently means you can’t travel to Canada and if you ever apply for a job that asks if you have a record, you have to put this on your application, which will probably hold you back from some opportunities. For 10 years. Until I’m 37, I’m fucked.

That is, unless my lawyer can somehow prove that I was unlawfully arrested. There’s a small possibility there — I wasn’t pulled over — the only reason the cop bothered me at all is because someone apparently called 911 on a car leaving the parking garage around the same time I left. I don’t know what detail they have on the car leaving the garage, but from what I overheard while at the jail, the report said the car was a different make and model than the one I drive. As I was parked at the time when the cop walked up to my car, knocked on my door, which I then opened, and he asked me to step out of the car, and things went downhill from there.

There definitely are some laws (albeit minimal ones) to protect people from being unlawfully arrested. I’m not sure exactly what happens if they prove you were breaking the law after you were arrested — the fact of the matter is that I had .11 BAC and I shouldn’t have left the parking garage to begin with. A huge part of me wanted to just plead guilty, but the way the law works you are screwed if you do that, and you’re much better off trying to fight it, even if that means you end up with a plea bargain for wet reckless or a slightly smaller fine. I hate that I can’t just own up to my error and call it a day. Instead, this is a nightmare. And a month after I was arrested, the nightmare is only beginning.