At this point, it has been over 90 days since my DUI arrest. There haven’t been any developments since I last posted. The DMV hearing is delayed, but still pending. And since the DMV hearing isn’t completed, the criminal case hasn’t moved forward. My criminal law professor used to say something along the lines of, “in reality, the criminal justice system does not move at the convenience of the offender.” And that is certainly true – and fair, I think.
So with that preamble out of the way, here is what I’ve learned so far in 90 days, and what you should be prepared for:
- There is no quick way to resolve the pending cases, i.e. the DMV case and the criminal case, unless you plead guilty. Unfortunately, in larger cities too many people make the terrible decision to drink and drive. As a result, the caseloads are incredibly high. So you and your loved ones need to be prepared – your restricted driving privileges will affect every day things. And the stress that comes from having cases pending against you won’t disappear overnight. For me, each passing day is spent reliving the night of my arrest and the consequences that have followed. These have been the longest 90-some days of my life.
- Even after the cases are resolved one way or the other, the financial consequences don’t go away. The money spent on lawyers, the hike in insurance premiums, the DMV surcharges (if your state has them), etc. will impact you for several years – in my case, at the very best, the case has eaten away 3 years’ worth of savings. It’s a lot of money.
- Then there are the non-economic consequences that last a life-time, which often end up impacting the finances anyway. For example, if you’re convicted of a DUI in most states, the conviction stays on the record for the rest of your natural life. In my case, this means that I can’t sit for a certain state bar to become a lawyer in that state for at least a year. I can’t even be sure if or when my own state will admit me to practice. While this seems like a non-economic consequence at first blush, each year not practicing law means loss of income from a source for which I went to school. Then there is the concern about job applications and interviews – companies will do a background check, and even in the best-case scenario, the DUI will make for an uncomfortable chat. There are other things too – like being unable to visit Canada for at least 10 years.
So the purpose today’s post is really just self-reflection. The lesson is simple – your life will be affected in a major way if you drink and drive. If you’re reading this post because you were recently arrested for a DUI, I suggest that you understand that this DUI situation won’t go away overnight.
The best advice here is don’t drink and drive. The second best advice is that if you’ve already been arrested for a DUI, it is time to start working on rehabilitation of your character. With time, and major effort on your part, the consequences can be managed and mitigated – but never eliminated.