The first few days after getting your DUI are incredibly rough - you feel absolutely worthless. You feel like a complete fuck up. You put your life in danger, you put others lives in danger. You’re usually so on top of things - how could you have been so careless? How could you have been so reckless?
To steal a line from another campaign: It gets better.
You made a mistake, and you’ll be punished for it. That’s how things happen. It’s not unlike the time you cheated on a test in 8th grade and got caught - you made a mistake, and you’ll be punished for it. You’re not getting expelled from school, you’re not getting sent to a special cheater ward, you’re getting punished, and before too long, you’ll barely remember it (hopefully), just like you barely remember what test it was back in eight grade.
I’m not excusing what you (or I) did, but if you’re anything like I was, you’ve been heavily googling for DUI information, reading about the harshest penalties ever given, then sweating all night worrying about not if, but for how long you’re going to prison. The random Google searches are a lot like looking at WebMD when you wake up with a stiff back - before too long you’ve diagnosed yourself with terminal cancer and just two weeks to live.
You’re 99.999999% not going to prison for your first arrest (especially without any priors) - and if you do, it’ll probably be your choice. (more on that later)
If it’s your second arrest, you might have a little bit of jail (not prison) ahead of you. A weekend, and with overcrowding, you will most likely serve a fraction of what you’re given. If you’re on your third, or on probation… it still might be some, but it will be doable - you’re not going for the rest of your life. If you killed somebody
, or they found guns or drugs in your car, well… the actual DUI is probably the least of your worries (Don’t do these things).
Most DUI cases are by a person who has no priors, no legal record, and just made a mistake.
Yes, you shouldn’t have cruised through that police checkpoint after splitting three bottles of wine with your friend, but you’re not going to a federal penitentiary over it. Most of the punishments you face for your first (and even second) DUI go away.
They go away.
You will not be branded for life. You will not be thrown away as a human being. You will not be excommunicated from society to live in the shadowlands. If you got into a wreck, cars can be fixed… it just takes some of your money to do so.If you got into a wreck and somebody was minorly injured, they’ll heal… and take a lot of your money to do so.
In some cases (some, not all, not most) they come out very well compensated for it, and it can even be a blessing to them. Some. (But if it helps you sleep at night…)In most cases you’re just going to have a few more commitments - both in time, and money.
Money, it sucks, but, you will have time to pay it off, and in installments, and when it’s like that, you have to tighten up the belt a little bit, but it’s not that bad. $2000 is daunting, and scary… but $166/mo for a year… it still sucks, but it’s not impossible. (You can also cut into your alcohol budget since you’ll most likely be cutting down on your drinking.)
The time commitments… They seem daunting at first as well, but they’re not bad. “A 3 Month Program” sounds huge, but, “Come in once a week and watch a lame video from the 70s” isn’t such a big of a deal. It’s mostly time-out for adults.
Plus, both the court and ancillary businesses (The DUI-Industrial Complex) are somewhat workable (more on this later) - if you make payments to the court in good faith and can establish that you’re hurting, they’ll work with you. If you’re low income the DUI class can be at a reduced cost. If you need to take a trip (or even a vacation) there’s provisions to move court dates, and classes to accommodate you.
The most difficult part is not driving for a while
. Unless you’re a New Yorker, it’s been a long time since you’ve had an extended period without driving. I absolutely dreaded the mandatory suspension
, but it was actually surprisingly manageable. Despite what they say, I walked in LA. I rode my bike more, I learned LA’s subway system (yes, we have one!) and stayed in a tad bit more (which I wanted to do since I wanted to get my drinking in check). Also, in this day and age, there’s always Uber and Lyft
- both are cheaper than a cab, and much, much, much cheaper than even one part of the DUI (as a true cheapskate I open up both apps and compare prices before I go. Gotta save that 20 cents!)
After the mandatory part, I was able to drive again, just with an ignition interlock device (more on this later)
. It sucks, but, I’m getting around, and it, too, goes away. Probation
- Just don’t fuck up for a while. It’s not the hardest thing to do once you’ve been through the wringer. Also, it can be reduced, and it goes away.
If you really want to, after a period of time you can expunge your DUI from your record, it can go away (it’s still priorable, so don’t get a second, but, you don’t need to keep talking about it).
Then, after 10 years, if you clean up your act and fly right - your DUI is no longer priorable. That means if you get another one after that time, it’s counted as your first. (I don’t need to say it, but even after 10 years, it’s never a good idea to get a DUI).
If you do what you have to, pay what you need to, act like you need to - it all goes away.
It all goes away.