The Dumbest, Most Expensive Mistake in My Life

You will all judge me, and that’s fine. I’d judge me too. I made a very stupid mistake. Long story short, this week I was arrested with a DUI. My BAC was .11 according to the breathalyzer test. The entire situation was so stupid, and I’ll be paying for it for the rest of my life.

After not having eaten all day, I decided to attend a local meetup event for a startup in the area. I assumed there would be a reasonable amount of food to eat there along with drinks, and as I’m on a very strict diet to lose weight that I started, I didn’t want to go over my 1200 calorie limit for the day. That was stupid mistake #1.

The party ended up having very little food. And when I say party, this was an event at a nice restaurant and they had lots of champagne and wine and not enough food.  Being socially anxious, I tend to drink quickly to make situations where I don’t know anyone more palatable. The evening went as follows:

7:30pm: arrived at event, had a glass of champagne.

7:45pm: had a glass of red wine

8:15pm: had a glass of white wine

9:30pm: party ended, and I was not ready to drive. I went with a group of people to another local bar to get sober

12:15pm: left the bar, went to my car

12:30pm: drove out of parking garage about 1/2 a short block, made a legal right turn, then realized that I wasn’t ready to drive home yet so pulled over to the side of the road. This is when I noticed I happened to turn down a street with 4 cop cars parked, waiting to catch drunk drivers. I noticed that I had not parked perfectly in a space (I was parallel parked, in between two marked spaces), so I pulled my car forward into the proper space and stopped.

At this time, I saw one of those cop cars do a K-Turn and pull his car into the side of the road behind me a few open parking spaces in back of my car. The cop got out and walked up to my car and knocked on the window. I knew that I was f*#ked.

When he knocked on my window, I opened my door because my window is broken, and also I think my car was not turned on at that point (note — I wasn’t pulled over, he just knocked on my window.) He took one look at me and asked me to step out of the car.

The next humiliating 30 minutes included my having a panic attack and going through a variety of field sobriety tests. I’m sure I seemed drunk at that point because I was freaking out. In all honesty I should not have driven, but I also did not break any driving laws to give the police reasonable suspicion to pull me over. Again, they didn’t even pull me over.

I was told that they received a 911 call about me… which somehow happened between leaving the parking garage about 60 seconds before and the time I pulled over on the side of the road. It was clear the cop was hoping to follow me until I made a mistake and then pull me over, but I stopped before that.

Anyway, none of this to say that I shouldn’t be at fault here. Clearly I made a stupid decision to drive out of that parking garage in the first place, and to drink 3 glasses of wine on an empty stomach when I knew I had to drive home that night. I’m lucky no one got hurt and whatever I have to pay in this situation is nothing compared to what could have happened.

The rest of the night was awful… I was hysterical (which won’t help my case in court) and didn’t exactly invoke my Miranda rights. I eventually was driven 40 minutes away to the county jail and — thanks to saying I wanted to kill myself one too many times — was handcuffed to a chair for psych watch all night. In the morning, I was let go with a court date.

I reached out to one of my friends who has had a DUI before and she recommended a lawyer that is a friend of their family. I called him and he’s giving me a special rate to handle my DUI case as well as to help with another (two) traffic tickets I received a few weeks ago (failure to stop at stop sign completely and speeding) will cost me $3000. And that’s if all of this doesn’t go to trial.

My only “hope” is that they can prove the police didn’t have fair reason to arrest me. They didn’t mention anything about my driving, only that a 9-11 call was placed about me. I’m probably screwed.

I’m wondering what I should do now to help my case – if anything. I’ve read that it might be good to attend AA meetings so I’ve looked into that. I won’t really fit in there given that I drink about once every two months, but the reality is that when I do drink I have a problem. It’s hard for me to have one drink in social situations.

From now on I am (really) giving up alcohol. I don’t like to drink, and I don’t need to drink. It makes me stupid and fat. The only reason it helps is in social environments, esp for work-related events where I need to speak to strangers, but I’ll have to learn how to deal without drinking. Sure, I can drink and not drive — I just don’t want to drink ever again. It’s expensive, it’s poison, it’s a lot of calories and I don’t need it.

So that’s the story — I’ve committed the dumbest, most expensive mistake in my life. My insurance rates will go up, I’ll have to pay the lawyer the $3k, and I’ll have to pay all the fines that go along with being stupid like this (I’m guessing that will be another $3k.) All in all my DUI will cost me $10k (estimate) throughout my lifetime. More if I need to apply for another job.

What really sucks is how much my work environment team bonding is built around drinking. I went out with my coworkers to a bar last night (my DUI arrest occurred on Thursday) and as they’re all guys, they can drink a large glass of beer and have no problem driving home. I ordered water and they all looked at me funny, but I was proud of myself. I’ll just tell them I don’t drink. I told my roommate to not offer me any alcohol because I clearly have a problem (I can’t say no to alcohol OR food.)

I’ll report back on how my case is progressing. Fingers crossed somehow my arrest will prove illegal, and I’ll be able to learn this lesson without the jackhammer to my bank account.

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8 thoughts on “The Dumbest, Most Expensive Mistake in My Life”

  1. Ooh, that SUCKS! I used to teach DUI classes, and it's amazing how many people were ordered to enroll after a similar situation.

    The important thing is that you're admitting you made a mistake, you know it was dumb, and you're taking steps to prevent it from happening again. That's further than many people ever get.

    I'm sure any of us could have been in the same circumstance at some point in our lives. I know there are times I drove when I shouldn't have. Don't let people make you feel like crap for something they've probably done – some people just don't get caught!

    Hugs to you. I can't imagine how stressful this is. Good for you for realizing that drinking and going to jail isn't the way you want to live your life.

  2. I know this is tough. But I wanted to let you know that you may qualify for a public defender. they are free attorneys assigned to your case by the judge. i don't know how much you make, but there is some arbitrary salary cap and if you are under it you automatically are appointed a public defender. that way, you at least won't have to pay for a defense attorney. i am an ex-district attorney and will tell you how great public defenders are. sometime private defense attorneys, who charge their clients lots of money, are not as good as the free public defenders. look into it. i'm sorry you are in this position. it totally sucks.

  3. I'm sorry this happened to you, and I salute you for being so open about it that you would blog about it. Believe it or not it was a very cheap lesson. The young guy who had his whole life ahead of him until he ran over the little boy in the cross walk after the Giants Game 2 weeks ago, would do anything to be in your position right now.

    Not that you need another lesson, but for anybody who reads your blog, it would probably be good to dispel a few myths:

    1) You very likely did not have 3 drinks. A "drink" is defined as 4 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer or a 1 oz shot of liquor. Here's the problem. Most wine glasses are filled to 6-8 oz depending on how generous the bartender is being. Most shots are 1.5 oz. And alot of beers are pints. There's a pretty good chance you had at least 5-6 "drinks", by the definition. We all do it and don't even realize it.

    2) Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is affected dramatically by body weight. For example, let's say you weigh 120 lbs and I weigh 180 lbs, and let's assume we both have similar metabolisms. If we both have 5 drinks, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) will be approximately .17 (twice the legal limit) and mine will be .12 (50% over the legal limit). After 5 hours, (assuming we have similar metabolisms, you will be at .10 (still above the legal limit,) and I will be at .05, (legal, but still impaired.) Of course, those are just averages based on an average metabolism. Metabolisms vary greatly as well by gender, race, age, etc.

    Personally I think we should have a law that every bar should have a breathalyzer machine at the door. They are actually very cheap, but no bar would ever agree to it unless we pass a law.

    Best of luck getting through this. I know it sucks, but it really could be alot worse.

  4. I’m really happy that you took a stand of not drinking anymore, that’s good. I haven’t made that kind of decision for myself because I can say “No” to it anytime I want. Then again, I don’t see anything wrong with drinking in moderation. Always remember to eat before you drink, and as much as possible, don’t mix alcohol in your system. Apparently, it’ll get you drunk faster, which is what I learned after years of drinking. Hahaha! Regarding to your arrest, from what I understand, being behind the wheel even if the engine is not running is still liable for DUI. So, just a reminder to everyone, if you feel that you’re over the legal alcohol limit, then don’t get behind the wheel of the car ’cause you still might get arrested for it.

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