Survive A DUI

How to get through getting a DUI - both mentally, and legally.

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It’s been a long journey dealing with a DUI. As you go through yours you’ll find it complicated, confusing, upsetting, and unpleasant. A lot of it is designed to make you feel that way. It’s designed to beat you down, to make you want to give up. As you progress you may want to look back and revisit your feelings for a different section. Or you may be concerned with one certain aspect of the process. Here’s every article I’ve written for the site, in order, in hopes of making finding what you need a little bit easier.

DUI Life: It All Goes Away. You Will Be OK.
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 ...

Getting Busted: My Story
… And now, the hardest part to write. It’s not like I haven’t revisited it a thousand times, as I’m sure you’ve revisited your story. I rethink all the different scenarios - if I had just done this instead of that, been stopped by the red light instead of catching a green, if I had taken the long route instead of the Highway… Wondering ...

To Blow, Bleed, Or Say No. - Should I refuse a breathalyzer test or field sobriety test?
This is complicated, and opinions are all over the place with regards to this topic, so I’ll try to relay as much as I can.When you get pulled over you are being investigated for a crime, whether one has been committed or not, whether it’s speeding or a DUI. As you learned from fifth grade on under the power of the 5th Amendment you do not have ...

DUI Life: Owning A Breathalyzer
One of the biggest mistakes I made throughout this entire journey was to not really understand the effect alcohol has on my body. I mean, I understand the general good feeling, becoming more talkative, and an elevated chance of saying yes to an outrageous dare or late night burritos… But how many drinks is .08? You can say, “ok well, for an ...

The Next Few Days
The first few days after a DUI arrest are the worst part of the whole experience. No, I’m not exaggerating. If you’re like me, if you’re like most people, you’re going to absolutely beat yourself up. You’ll feel the pain of knowing what you did, the fear of all the possible things that could happen to you. You’ll feel anxiety...

The Search For A Lawyer: How to find them, and what should they cost?
How to find them and what should it cost? The biggest decision in your DUI saga will be how you want to represent yourself legally. It’s a difficult and costly decision that has a lot of pitfalls involved, and it’s one of the most “not fun” processes of the whole endeavor. To Have A Lawyer or Not: This is an incredibly difficult decision...

What your DUI Lawyer Really Does
As soon as your charge is booked your mailbox is going to explode - flyers, brochures, letters, all from DUI lawyers offering their services. Some of the shadier ones will attempt to make their letters look like official documents from the DMV or police. Don’t fall for it.All these lawyers come in with a few promises - that they’re on your ...

What about a Public Defender?
In the United States, we have the right to a legal defense whether we can afford one or not. Kinda. The public defender system exists in the hopes of providing everybody with a shot at defending themselves in their legal matters, but it’s a woefully bad system. You know the whole “if you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for you”? ...

I Wasn’t Read My Miranda Rights At My DUI Arrest!
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?” If you’ve seen any TV show or movie you’ve heard the Miranda rights read countless ...

Hiring A Lawyer
Having called many lawyers, visited a few, and agonizing over the decision, I was ready to hire a lawyer. It’s an important milestone in the process because it’s the first time where you decide to put up a defense - as feeble as it may be.Even if you are completely guilty, you need to defend yourself. Even if you have no priors, you need to ...

The Various Outcomes of a DUI Arrest
Like the rest of the process - what can happen to you after your arrest isn’t the clearest. It depends on a lot of things, your BAC, if there was an accident, prior DUI arrests, etc. I’ll try to outline as many as I can, but there’s always something more that can happen… obviously if the cop finds drugs, illegal weapons, or an outstanding ...

DUI and Fatalities
I was fortunate in my case that there was no accident, no injuries, and no fatalities. You may not have been so lucky, in which case - again - I’m sorry. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and guilt that’s weighing on yourself, and the grief you’re catching from others. You may be wishing that it was you that died, you may be thinking some ...

The DMV Case vs The Criminal Case
One of the little “quirks” of the DUI process is that when you’re arrested you find yourself faced with two charges against you for one crime. It’s not Double Jeopardy - it’s a loophole that they’re exploiting against you.The case that’s against you - technically just a ticket for a DUI - is a criminal case and it belongs to the ...

The Discovery Process: Presenting The Evidence
In the United States you have the right to see any and all evidence the state has against you. This is one of the foundations of Due Process, right up there with the right to an attorney. This is taken incredibly seriously, as any withholding of evidence by the prosecution is an incredibly serious charge. They’re going to give it all to you...

The DMV Hearing
Once you have requested your DMV hearing you’re in a weird legal gray zone. Most likely the police confiscated your physical driver’s license upon your arrest. If not, it doesn’t matter, it’s invalid anyhow. Upon your release from either jail or holding, the police should have given you your ticket for DUI and a pink form with the DMV’s...
Pleading out: Making A Plea Bargain
When you get arrested for suspicion of DUI there’s two main schools of thought when it comes to your court case - I’m going to fight this, or just give me the minimums and let me get this over with. Unless there’s a spectacular mistake or injustice made, even in the case of the most focused fighter, they usually become a person who just wants ...

The Hard Suspension: 30 Days - No Driving.
While going through this process, you’re going to get a lot of mail - the worst is the big imposing letter from the DMV that reads “ORDER OF SUSPENSION” across the top. The DMV writes in all caps, so it just looks intimidating. When you lose your DMV hearing your license is suspended automatically for four months. After 30 days you can apply ...

Soft Suspension And The Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
Once you’ve gotten past the 30 days the DMV allows you to apply for a restricted driver’s license provided you’ve met a few criteria: you cannot have any other suspensions or revocations on your license, you have enrolled in the DUI classes, you have gotten your SR-22, and that you pay a reinstatement fee (usually about $45). The fees you can ...

More Than Just Proof Of Insurance: The SR-22
Both your criminal conviction and the conditions to reinstate your license (either restricted or full) will be that you carry proof of insurance. Easy right? You’ve always driven with insurance. Unfortunately, that’s not what they’re looking for. Yes, you absolutely have to keep your current insurance (if they will keep you) but additionally...

Shopping for the Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
When you get that big scary letter of the Order of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) it will give you a list of approved, certified installers - I advise you to look each and every single one of them up. Getting the interlock is a difficult, complicated, and confusing process - and that’s all be design. The interlock companies want it to be...

Getting Booked
So one of the weird little… quirks… of my arrest was they didn’t actually process me. It seems to happen about 50% of the time. Anecdotally the biggest factor seems to be when you catch the police officer in their shift (although some argue if you catch them at the end of their shift that they’re more likely to issue a warning and let you...

The Watson Murder Laws
Once you’re convicted of a DUI, your life doesn’t change much. As days go by the shame and the guilt fade, your suspensions clear, your probation goes away, you can get the charge expunged, and after 10 years, your DUI can’t be used as a prior conviction should you get another DUI.However, there is one thing that does change for good - in...

The Various DMV Classes
I can only speak on the class I took - the AB-541 class, so you’ll have to bear with me on the others, as I don’t want to get more DUIs and learn about them firsthand!The 12 Hour SB-1176 ClassThis is the class you take if you’re lucky and only received a wet reckless charge. You’ll take 6 Alcohol Education Sessions (Instruction), with the...

The DMV Alcohol Class - An Overview
Part of “repaying your debt to society” involves taking either a 3-month (AB-541) or a 9-month (AB-1353) alcohol awareness class (If you luck out and get a Wet Reckless you’ll still have to take a 12 hour SB-1176 class. In rare instances you’ll have to take a 6 Month AB-768 or 18 month SB-38 class). The 3 month AB-541 is for standard DUIs...

The DMV Alcohol Class Section 1: Alcohol Education Sessions
The first day is the hardest.Going into the room, finding a seat, looking around and feeling embarrassed, judged, and guilty over what you’ve done. It’s not easy, you have to do it, and once you get past that, it’s all downhill from there.Just remember, if you feel that you are being judged that everybody in there is in there for the same...

Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings
In California, to complete your AB-541 or AB-1353 class you’ll have to do either 6, or 19 meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, respectively. This is just another entry into the long list of things they don’t tell you. When I was seeking out an alcohol class the person mentioned being required to do 10 AA meetings. Naturally I called 3 other classes...

The DMV Alcohol Class Section 2: Group Meetings.
Group meetings. It sounds like the worst.Am I going to have to go in and talk about my feelings, and cry, and get a hug from everyone, and talk about our growth and our spiritual journey, and all that other bullshit? Thankfully: no.It just sounds like it from the title of it. You won’t have to bond, you won’t have to talk about the first time...

Is the Ignition Interlock effective?
When you’re driving down the road at 45 miles per hour and you hear the beep go off for your rolling retest you automatically grab the device and blow and hum just to make the thing shut up (it is very loud). As you do this for months on end, you have to wonder - is this safe? And more importantly: is this really working? Technically, you’re...

Review: The Smart Start SSI-20/30 Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
There’s nothing fun about the Ignition Interlock Device experience. The shopping for it is incredibly difficult, and a sheer hassle. Once you figure out which one you “want”, you still have to deal with the hassle of it all - making sure that your regular appointments work with your schedule, avoiding all the nickel-and-dime charges they...

A DUI for the Holidays
Just a quick reminder - We think of the holidays fondly, with friends and family, warm fires, rich meals, and celebration. However, with all of that comes the consequences - police are patrolling heavily during this time looking for people to arrest for a DUI

Paying The Price: The Fine (and alternatives to paying the fine)
The minimum fine for a DUI in Los Angeles County is $390. Most likely if you plead out, and/or had no priors, this should be about what you were given in your sentencing. So, naturally, when you get your documentation you receive

Guest Post: Can The Police Use Social Media In Your DUI Case?
I reached out to Attorney Robert Miller, a fellow DUI blogger to get some insights on DUI from a lawyer's perspective. He alerted me to a growing trend that is downright scary - Tom

Protip: Check and Double Check
Today was an interesting day. Went down to the courthouse to pay my fine. My deadline is coming up and I wanted to get it out of the way. Most of my time was spent arguing how to do it - should I drive there and park or should I metro? Should I go early or wait till after the lunch rush?

DUI Life: A Year Ago
Ran into somebody the other day. Recognized him immediately, but wasn’t sure from where. Started talking, trying to figure it out. Then it came…“Fuck that DUI class, man. That was some bullshit”. Ah yes. That’s where he’s from

Guest Post: Both Sides
I received an email via my contact page from David, who has seen both sides of receiving a DUI/DWI, both as an offender and as a victim. It's a really great perspective on everything we face

Guest Post: How often are DUI cases expunged in California?
Robert Miller reached out to me to share a bit about the expungement process. It's not a part I've gotten to yet (I'm still on my probation) but hope to do someday. Valuable information that I have found very useful in the hope of moving on. Hopefully Robert will help me out when the time comes. - Tom...

Review: The BacTrack Mobile Smartphone Breathalyzer
Hey everyone. Just wanted to check in. Like I said before… Life moves on. These days I don’t really think about my DUI that much. Life is somewhat back to normal. I just paid my second-to-last insurance payment with an SR-22 and… ouch… but other than that, reading the emails that you guys send me… It’s pretty much like life was before I got my DUI...

Should I Buy A Portable Breath Testing Device For Personal Use?
Got an email from Len, who wanted to chime in on the breathalyzer issue. - Tom… If a person has consumed alcohol away from home, and he or she is concerned about being over the legal blood alcohol limit, a personal breath testing device (PBT) might control their decision about driving home...

Guest Post: 4 Tips to Survive A DUI Checkpoint
There has been a lot of controversy with the legality of checkpoints because you are protected by the 4th amendment from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, the Supreme Court evaluated the entire circumstance of DUI checkpoints. They determined that

1st DUI for Electric Scooters
So often when people try to contact me, they give me some questions like "Can you get a DUI on a bike" (yes, but general consensus if you have to be a real asshole to a cop to get one), to "Can you get a DUI on a horse?" (No), and more

Guest Post: Getting Home Safely
It’s 2 a.m. The bartender has announced last call and you know you have to get home, but you’ve been drinking pretty steadily all night. Or, your friend’s party could be ending and you’re feeling a little buzzed. In either case, driving home isn’t worth it

3 Pieces of Evidence You Should NOT Give to The Police When You Are Pulled Over for Suspicion of a DUI
Getting pulled over for drinking and driving can be a stressful situation. Most of the time, you will be so nervous or caught up in the situation, you will oftentimes unknowingly give the police officer evidence for building a case against you. Drinking and driving is against the law and should be avoided at all costs

Guest Post: Ways to Challenge Breathalyzer Test
The use of breath to determine the blood alcohol level of a person is the most popular scientific method in DUI cases. There are many cases, when the wrong Breathalyzer tests cause the person, under suspicion of driving while drinking, face DUI charges. Breathalyzer results are inaccurate because of certain problems with calibrations or if there is an untrained police officer using the device

On Probation
Hi everyone. Been a while, I know. Truth of the matter is that once you’re sentenced, you’ve done your classes, gotten rid of your interlock, got your license back, life continues where you left off. Sure, your insurance is still high, but there’s an end in sight

The MADD Victim Impact Panel (VIP)
Mothers Against Drunk Driving… Who could argue against that? We all agree that drinking and driving is awful… what kind of awful person would go against this organization? Well, after this whole experience… probably you

Guest Post: How to Avoid a DUI Tips Checklist
Imagine you are leaving a bar after celebrating a good friend’s birthday.You didn’t plan to stay long or to even drink, but you got caught up in the festivities and had one or two beers mixed with a couple of shots. After waiting a little while, you decide you were sober enough to drive home. You hastily trot outside, start your car, and drive off

Guest Post: How to Emotionally Recover After DUI
“Pull over, I need to throw up!”… I quickly jerked the steering wheel to the right lane and my car drifted towards the exit. I exited from the freeway, pulled into the nearby gas station as one of my female friends hunched over and vomited in the trashcan by the gas pump. She spilled her guts outside of the car as I let out a deep sigh of relief

Portable, Cheap, Disposable Breathalyzers?
So you want to know if you're ok to drive, or if your ignition interlock device (IID) will let you start your car. But you don't want to buy a BacTrack breathalyzer or anything like that. What do you do? Well… You have a few options. The first is the easiest - wait it out

Let's Keep in Touch - The Survive A DUI Newsletter
Tom here… Just wanted to drop a quick note - I'm starting a newsletter to help people keep updated with the site, new posts, and new DUI laws as they happen. Free to subscribe, unsubscribe anytime, and I'll have the "community" features enabled so you can talk with other people

Guest Post: Psychological Impact of a DUI Charge
A DUI charge can lead to dire legal consequences, but that is not the only concern at the time of arrest. The DUI testing, police questions, license confiscation, and the overall incriminating circumstances can be overwhelming. The situation is most troublesome for young drivers who are first time offenders. They experience a paradox of emotions because there is so much to lose

New Year, New Laws - 2021
Hello, Happy New Year! Hope this one is treating you well. 2020 was a rough one for sure. What’s nice about it is, when things hit the bottom, the only place they can go is up. That was my experience getting a DUI, and that’s the attitude I’m taking with me into 2021. We’ll see how long it lasts

Guest Post: Having Hope - 4 DUIs and Moving Forward
I saw Branden post his story on Reddit's DUI board and encouraged him to share his story in the hopes that it can help others out there… I received DUIs in November of 2014, January of 2016, September of 2017, and March of 2020 and this is my experience. For the first, I went out with friends from my job, Uber-ed to my truck which was left at work, napped for a while in the truck

No more DUIs in 2027? (and why it may not be a good thing)
This article came across my desk this morning… "Every Car Made After 2027 May Have Drunk Driving Monitoring System". Long story short - the infrastructure bill that we've heard so much about recently has a tiny little clause stuck way, way deep inside of it that would require every car manufactured in 2027 and beyond to have a system that would prevent the car from operating if any alcohol is detected

Guest Post: Preparing for Court - Surviving your DUI Court date
If you are required to appear in court, especially as a defendant in a DUI case, you must dress and behave appropriately. Although this seems simple for lawyers, attire can be a point of stress for many Defendants. I’ve written this article as a day-of-court guide for anyone who might be unfamiliar with what to wear for their case