A DUI or DWI is something most people never expect. Unfortunately, one small lapse in judgment can land you in big trouble. The legal system doesn’t care if you’re normally responsible; even one mistake behind the wheel can change your entire life. While it may seem like everyone with a DUI conviction is the same, you may be surprised to learn that many are just like you, average people who made a mistake.
Getting a DUI
The sirens appear in the rearview mirror, your heart begins to pound, and you immediately check your breath. Have I had too much to drink? Why is the cop pulling me over? Will the officer know I’ve been drinking? Questions are racing through your head and you’re unsure what to do.
Yes, you had too much to drink, the officer pulled you over because he suspected drunk driving, and you’re getting a DUI. It happens quickly, and you’ll soon be in a legal battle that could change your life.
While society likes to peg certain people as “drunk drivers,” the reality is that each year thousands of normally responsible people make similar mistakes. How you choose to handle your mistake is what will determine the outcome.
Understanding the Process
After a DUI arrest, there is a standard process that’s followed. If your blood alcohol content level (BAC) was at .08 or above, you’ll be taken to court. While you are innocent until proven guilty, you likely won’t get around the finding that your BAC surpassed the legal limit. You’ll be convicted of drunk driving and handed a list of punishments, fines, and restrictions.
Each state has its own laws, but punishments generally fall into the following range. First, you may be asked to serve some jail time, depending on how many offenses you’ve had and what state laws dictate. Second, you’ll be asked to pay a fine, as well as your court costs. Third – and this is what most people worry about the most – your driver’s license will be revoked for a period of time.
This last aspect is what attorneys will help you with, and according to DWI-Texas.com, you may have as little as 15 days to save your license. Now, it may be possible to keep your license, but it’s unlikely. Instead, your legal team will likely work to determine ground rules for how you can get your license reinstated. In most states, this requires you go through an educational program.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to take these educational programs seriously. The courts want you to show you’ve learned from the experience and are committed to becoming a safe driver once again. According to Michael Kraut, a DUI/DWI Attorney in Los Angeles, California, you’ll usually learn some of the following lessons from the program you participate in:
- Better decision-making. DUI education classes are structured to educate on the dangers of drunk driving and how to make better choices, especially before getting behind the wheel. Typically, classes will give students real-life scenarios and ask them to provide a responsible solution. These scenarios might seem monotonous, but it’s important to take them seriously. The knowledge you acquire will be practical and useful in the future.
- Responsible behavior. DUI classes also touch on the topic of alcohol abuse and responsible drinking. Instead of telling you not to drink, instructors will instead help you develop backup plans, to protect you from dangerous situations in the future. You’ll leave the program knowing how to recognize when you’ve had too much and when it’s unsafe to drive.
- Understanding triggers. Do you know what fuels your desire to drink? DUI classes will help uncover the source of your drinking and teach you to avoid any triggers. It might be something as large as your entire lifestyle, or as small as making bad decisions when around a particular person.
- Future risks. Additionally, the program will warn you about the risks of future DUI offenses. These include lengthy jail time, job loss, family troubles, serious injuries, and even death.
The website OneDUI.com is a helpful source for understanding the real-life consequences of drunk driving. It provides candid stories and accounts from people just like you.
Mark, for example, was out at a bar one night drinking with his friends. He thought he was doing a good job of spacing out his drinks, but didn’t realize he’d had too many. He was pulled over, arrested, and convicted of a DUI. When asked about the process he says, “I always used to look at people who got DUIs as bad people. But now I know that they’re mostly people who just made a mistake.”
Jocelyn’s story is pretty similar. She’s a normal person who enjoys having a couple of drinks after work with her coworkers. However, one night she had too much and thought she was fine to drive home. She ended up blowing a .10 on her breathalyzer test and was arrested on the spot. She claims, “Getting a DUI was a big wake-up call for me.”
Making the Smart Choice
The moral of the story is that good people make mistakes. Whether you’ve been arrested for a DUI and don’t know how to proceed, or think it could never happen to you, it’s important to be knowledgeable and smart about the issue. Above all else, it’s pertinent that you make smart decisions behind the wheel.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0615832784][amazon template=iframe image&asin=098855237X][amazon template=iframe image&asin=0989641406][amazon template=iframe image&asin=0981684408]