The Daily Reminders of an Awful Decision

Getting arrested for a DUI changes the way you think. That may be by design, of course, so that you don’t repeat the error.

The one thing that I have consistently caught myself doing is thinking about the DUI, the stigma associated with being arrested, and how my future will now be different because of drinking and driving. Each time, I remind myself that the situation isn’t a tragedy. It could have been a tragedy but thankfully, it wasn’t – I was removed from the road that night before I could cause damage to anyone else. Even the consequences I am currently going through aren’t tragic. They are difficult now, to be certain, but they aren’t tragic. In fact, they for my own good. Oh, and they aren’t tragic because they are a but-for and foreseeable result of my actions.

What causes me to think about the DUI

Most things lead me down the rabbit-hole where I end up thinking about the DUI. It can be something complex, like visiting the city I grew up in for the first time since the DUI and realizing that the last time I was in this city, I had never been arrested and there was nothing holding me back in life. But often, it’s something much simpler – like a song coming on that I haven’t heard in a while, and automatically going back to the moment I heard it last, which soon leads to the realization of how simple life was in that very moment. Certainly, I had problems then, too, but none of them were criminal in nature. The song-association is especially troublesome because most of my music listening took while driving somewhere. So there’s the added pain of being unable to drive where and when I want.

But I am getting better, I think

Listen, going through the DUI process isn’t easy. Spending the night in jail, taking a financial hit, the social stigma, the uncertainty about the legal process, and the worries about how job prospects and bar admission will be impacted is stressful stuff. Hell, right now, all I can do is think about Wednesday – on Wednesday, I have my final DMV hearing. During this hearing, in all likelihood, my drivers license suspension will be upheld. This would result in 30 days of no-driving whatsoever, followed by 2 more months of restricted driving.

But through this stress, the actions I am taking, I think, are making me a better person. I certainly hope they are. And with each new event coming my way, I am attempting to keep a positive attitude. For the most part, I feel much better – so I have no reason to believe that these steps aren’t working.

  1. Each week day, I am attending an AA meeting. The meetings are a good reminder of what can happen to my life if alcohol takes over. And it also provides a good look into how good life can be if I keep at it on the straight and narrow. I am 24 days away from getting my 90-day sobriety chip, and by going without alcohol one day at a time, I’m sure I’ll get there before I know it. I chuckled a bit as I typed that because a couple months is such a short period of time. My sponsor has been in the program for two decades, and just last week I heard a gentleman speak who has been sober for longer than I have been alive. I hope one day I am one of these sages of AA.
  2. I decided to take DUI classes – the program has a two-fold purpose: through classroom education, they attempt to change your mindset about drinking and driving; and they make you take an evaluation to determine whether counseling could benefit you. My classes are scheduled for next weekend. The evaluation took place earlier this past week, and the results indicated that I could benefit from counseling.
  3. I spoke with the counselor last week after the evaluation. He mentioned that the referral likely took place because my BAC was .135 at the time of the arrest, which means I must have high tolerance for alcohol – and when you have a higher tolerance, the referral is almost guaranteed. He seemed like a great guy who stated he would like to meet with me at least 5 times for an hour each time; and since this is a 1 on 1 counseling session (instead of in a group setting), he said we can get right to helping me. I will be meeting with him weekly starting this upcoming week. I’ll post about my experience as I go through counseling.
  4. As I had mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve signed a contract with the state’s Lawyers’ Assistance Program. The contract has three major stipulations:
    • I cannot drink alcohol. At all. For any reason. Not even a non-alcoholic beer.
    • I have to check in every morning, and on any given morning, they can ask me to provide a sample to test for the presence of alcohol. The test can detect the presence of alcohol for up to 5 days.  Given that I check in every morning, even a single drink could spell the end of my chance at becoming a lawyer.
    • I have to attend lawyers’ support group meetings weekly. At this meeting, you get to talk to other lawyers who are in a similar position as you are. And like I mentioned last week, more than anything else, you feel like you aren’t alone which really helps me realize, albeit temporarily, that there is a future and it can be bright if I work at it.
  5. The Lawyers’ Assistance Program has also assigned me a monitor. I get to check in with him at least once a month. I talked to him on Friday, and I’m meeting him on Thursday in person. Hopefully, having someone walk me through the process will relieve the anxiety a bit.

So what?

Well, this morning when I was listening to Simon and Garfunkel, I remembered that the last time I listened to them, I had been driving through the mountains of North Carolina with my girlfriend. As much as I’d like to make that drive again, I can’t – not for another 4 months at least while my drivers’ license is suspended…potentially even longer if the judge in the criminal case finds me guilty, which would result in an additional 6 month suspension. And that’s really disappointing. But then I took about 15 minutes and tried to remind myself of all the good things I am trying to do to rehabilitate myself. If these actions have the intended result, in a year when the legal process has worked itself out, I will look back and this may have been the best thing to have happened to me. I hope.

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