It has been over six months since my DUI arrest. In many ways, the arrest seems like it was just yesterday. In many other ways, it was the longest six months of my life.
But the six month mark was special in that I was able to get my drivers’ license back. I went to DMV, and the process was rather painless…as long as you don’t take into account a rather hefty reinstatement fee. But that’s to be expected, and ultimately, a fair fee. In the 3 weeks since the reinstatement, life has gotten so much easier. Driving without restrictions is, I think, one of the most amazing privileges. Imagine my life when I could not drive: wake up, call an Uber, and on a good day, they would arrive within 10 minutes. Repeat the process for the way back home. The walk to where I do my community service would take 15 minutes. AA meeting is another 15 minutes. If I took the bus instead of Uber or Lyft to work, that would be an additional hour easy. All in all, not having a car required the expenditure of easily and hour, perhaps even 2 hours. And this doesn’t take into account the cost of ride-sharing.
The worst of all feelings, when I didn’t have my license, was the feeling of helplessness. If at 10 PM, I got hungry and didn’t have anything to eat at home, my options were either having pizza delivered or waiting until the morning. Sure, it sounds like a really mundane first world problem. And it is. But you really do realize what a privilege driving really is when you can’t drive anymore.
So in many ways, with the license back, life is much easier now. However, the emotional challenge doesn’t go away. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about the DUI arrest and now having a criminal record. Every day, I play the what-if game — what if I hadn’t had anything to drink that night, how different, and better, my life would be right now? But even with all this perspective and mental gymnastics, I have learned to accept that I cannot change the past. I have a criminal record now for an offense that I committed. I have done my best to follow the straight and narrow since. And the only way I can…mitigate…my past is by doing the next right thing for the rest of my life.
I also picked up the six month sobriety chip last week at an AA meeting. It’s a good feeling to know that despite my misstep in the past, I have, so far, done the one thing which is guaranteed to result in me not drinking and driving ever again — i.e. not drinking at all.
Through it all, as I sit here on Christmas Day with a full license and six months of sobriety, I have never been busier in life. The bar exam is now a mere 60-some days away. My job, though very fulfilling, has been busier than usual. Add in AA meetings, a support group meeting, and about 15-20 hours of community service a month, and you can see why I say that I’ve never been busier 🙂 But at the end of the day, when my head hits the pillow, I know it has been a day filled with progress. And that is all I can hope for.
Merry Christmas, and a happy new year!