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Survive A DUI

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

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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. Now, before you start to think that everybody is going to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on their car, the bill mentions that it would be a passive system. So how would it work?

Well… Like always, that part they haven't figured out.

One method would be a button on a push-to-start system monitoring blood alcohol levels through touch… Currently I don't know of any reliable test that uses that sort of technology. Still this is six years down the road, so maybe it's possible. I've said many times on this blog that I am not a lawyer, but in this instance I will add that I am also not a scientist. The other would be a breath monitoring system that would act like a constant breathalyzer scanning the air for alcohol particles, even being able to, supposedly, be able to determine if the alcohol in the air is from the driver and not a passenger. We'll see what happens when a drink passenger gets in and puts their favorite song on, the one they just have to listen to right now, and starts belting out the lyrics as hard as can be.

I'm sure they're considering all these factors, but… I'll believe it when I see it. Our current IID machines aren't great - resulting in false positives from such things as eating bananas or onions. There's no oversight established yet, so who knows how this will go. The car manufacturers love it because it's another thing they can charge for and it further absolves them of any responsibility.

An excellent point made in the article "Given such a technology would likely be used hundreds of millions of times every single day if mandated, an error rate of even .01 percent would result in millions of mistakes a day." I can't imagine the chaos that would ensue from the early adopters just months in. If you can't get to work because of a false positive and lose your job, you may be able to sue Ford, or Subaru, or whoever for damages. I'm sure they will not be happy with that.

Fortunately, the transportation secretary can delay this requirement if the technology isn't ready - so if they never get there or autonomous cars take over completely by then, this will all be moot.

So, this provision may be the greatest change to automobiles in recent memory or a bunch of wishful thinking.

There's some additional concerns however-

Vice's article mentions that police often get warrants to search the car's onboard computers, and these computers collect a lot of data that the driver doesn't realize - everything from whether the car was in motion without your seatbelt fastened to your complete driving history in cars with onboard GPS. Theoretically one could get into an accident and have this data pulled and used against them to show that there was a detectable amount of alcohol below shutdown level and have that information used in a lawsuit against the driver, or used by insurance to disqualify a claim. This aspect I'm not as confident that they will work out before implementation. There's supposedly measures in place to protect your privacy, but time and time again these have been hacked or simply obtained through legal measures. The reassurances they put out are not reassuring.

With an onboard breathalyzer in place people who haven't been through the system, like us, will also be given a level of confidence they may not have had earlier. The device will be able to detect alcohol, but there's no word on whether it will be able to detect other intoxicants - and given that it's been this difficult and taken this long to detect just alcohol, and the provision only requiring alcohol testing - it's unlikely that feature will be involved. So, a person may start their car and easily assume they are ok to drive when they could be under the influence of anything from marijuana to PCP to ecstasy to being sleepy to being mad about a football game or their partner leaving them. A person using their car can get drunk, not be able to start their car and realize they're not ok to drive. The next week they get loaded on Xanax, get in their car, have it start up, and think, "I'm good to go" when that isn't the case. I'm not sure what messaging will surround the system (and to be frank, this far out nobody is), but I'm sure it will not get into the nuances of what constitutes "being ok to drive". There may be a lot of bad unintended consequences from giving somebody this false sense of ability.

One last issue I had - a lot of the descriptions put these systems as rendering the car unable to start, but able to turn on so that somebody can charge their phone, get out of the cold, etc. While good in theory, it overlooks one big aspect of DUI law that many of us know all too well: you don't have to be driving the car, you don't have to be in the front seat, you don't have to even be in your car to get a DUI. Many, many, many people are arrested for DUIs for doing the responsible thing and sleeping off the alcohol in their back seats, or have been drunk outside their car without the intention to drive, but in possession of their keys. This is another false sense of security that will be given to a lot of people. "Oh, my car has the alcohol system installed, I'll just chill in the backseat for an hour or two until I'm ready to drive". A lot of people don't realize how far-reaching DUI laws are. I'm guessing that within a few years of this program being implemented non-driving DUIs will outpace actual driving DUIs. But as well know all-too-well, DUIs are a cash cow for the states, so they wouldn't want to kill the golden goose now, would they?

This would only apply to new cars, so 2026 cars would not be required to have this technology installed if it gets to become install-worthy. However, if the technology is available, reliable, and auto manufacturers like it, it may be difficult to purchase a new car without this feature much earlier than it's legally required (like backup cams and large distracting screens were ubiquitous). Some may hold on to older vehicles and keep them on the road in the name of "freedom".

We all want to live in a world where people don't drive drunk. Especially those of us who have had to face the consequences from those actions. However, is merely forcing this technology on everyone going to be enough? This technology can easily leave somebody, possibly sober, stranded in a precarious and unsafe position. Is this technology going to be reasonable if we do not improve things like public transportation or ridesharing availability to reach people in areas that aren't heavily trafficked? Will people resort to circumventing or disabling the system through shady means out of sheer need? Why do a lot of DUIs happen? Because people don't have options, they're scared of getting their car towed, or a hefty ticket when they leave their car overnight. They're worried they won't be able to get home and they're stuck somewhere they don't want to be. They're worried about fulfilling obligations and don't see another way. Where are the solutions on this end?

It's a lot to think about. Hopefully some of these gets resolved before (if) it all gets implemented. Hopefully more attention to this will lead to some more intense examination of this provision and its consequences.

Of course, with the infrastructure bill in constant limbo, it might not even make it to the final bill. If not, I would expect a similar legislation, either on its own or attached to something else, to be pushed through relatively quickly.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, and I've created a discussion thread on substack (where you can subscribe to the SAD newsletter) where you can chime in and give your perspective:

No More DUIs in 2027? discussion

Guest Post: Having Hope - 4 DUIs and Moving Forward

I saw Branden post his story on Reddit's DUI board (there's also a SAD Reddit) and encouraged him to share his story in the hopes that it can help others out there. If you'd like to share your story, please contact me. There's a lot of people who are going through what you have, and a lot of people who have already gone through it and come out the other side. Together we can make this better for all of us - Tom

Having Hope



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, ate some food from a drive though at taco bell, and rolled through a stop sign while proceeding home. An officer was there in the dark, lights off. I spent the night in jail and lost that job opening a craft burger restaurant in a high traffic area in Orange County, California. Anyone with a first DUI knows it can be just a slap on the wrist. By one estimate, 1 in 5 California residents have a DUI and me being a young twenty-something year old kid didn’t think too much about it.

For the second, I went on a snowboarding trip to Big Bear with some friends, drank heavily the last night, and in the morning, I drove a friend’s car home. I was caught speeding down the mountain and because I had a prior, was breathalyzed. I did 30 days of SCRAM/house arrest.

The third happened at a DUI checkpoint. I had been at a friend’s birthday party with my girlfriend at the time. She had too much to drink and I wanted to leave early to get some rest for the following workday. I had been doing investment allocations for an aerospace company and I worked another restaurant job on weekends. I had a drink at this party, but when I took the turn and discovered the checkpoint, I knew it was over. I spend 30 days in Orange County jail.

For the fourth, COVID had struck. At this point, I was on the verge of becoming a heavy drinker. I relied on alcohol in social settings, going out and partying with friends, but this started spilling over to drinking sometimes in isolation. I was studying while drinking some wine before I decided to grab something to eat. I was lucky enough to get away with only the night in jail before checking myself into a treatment facility for 60 days and pleading into DUI court.

Before the fourth, I never thought I had an issue with alcohol. I simply thought I made some very idiotic decisions. My drinking typically involved only social situations, but I would party hard and often, slowly losing any control. The fourth was a wakeup call. My weekends of partying have now come to an end, and I haven't had a drink in nearly 500 days since.

Overall, people tell me I'm lucky. I can continue on to finish my business degree at a local university, I have a lot of freedoms, I'm not locked up, and most importantly I never hurt myself or anyone else. People would be right by saying all of this; however, it's so difficult to be optimistic or confident about anything sometimes.

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with the label society has given me. I think about obtaining this degree and being un-hirable. I think about this rigorous DUI court program and formal probation and what all that entails: 10pm curfew, no traveling outside state lines, no traveling outside the county without the POs ok to do so, weekly therapy with a court appointed counselor, weekly group therapy, several 12-step meetings per week (I'm really not a fan of AA but that's what everyone pushes), bi-weekly 3-6 hour court appearances, several random urinalysis tests per week, random home searches, etc. and I don't know how I'll be able to begin a career with it all, have any meaningful relationships or have what I consider to be a normal life. It's depressing.

People have said I deserve it. People have said I deserve much worse. And sometimes I agree. I realize what I’ve done is absolute insanity, it’s unethical, it’s dangerous and careless, and I agree. And I’m learning… I’m changing, I’m growing, I’m remorseful not because I was caught, but because I understand that my actions could have killed someone. Someone who has a life just like mine.
Some days are easier than others, but more often than not, I struggle to find hope. I tend to get really down on myself and as a result, my confidence and self-worth are all but gone. I feel like a shell of the happy, energetic, fun-to-be-around person I once was.

I've lurked a lot of comments and posts on internet forums, and I've seen some similar sentiment. For those going through similar bouts of depression, maybe you'll find some comfort in knowing you're not alone. This is the most difficult and challenging thing I've ever experienced and it's so hard to carry on at times.

I think I felt the need to have my story heard as a therapeutic rant/journal to make that point known to others as well as myself: you are not alone. This is hard. I think it gets better, I hope it gets better, it has to.

I've been spending my days now studying mostly. I received a 4.0 at my university last semester, I try to hit the gym 5 days a week, I read, I surf, I have a separate therapist I confide more in (and man, after writing this I think I need a session), I'm started dating someone who's been a good friend the past couple years and is extremely supportive of my path of continued self-betterment. I'm trying and I'm trying really hard and sometimes it's still overwhelming. Sometimes I still break down. Sometimes I still feel completely hopeless. And sometimes it's not so bad, and it's those times that keep me going because if it's not so bad sometimes, then maybe there is a possibility life can get even better. I just have to hang on to some hope, live one day at a time, and note the good things I have in the present moment.


A Makeover for 2021...

Hey everyone!

Took some time this week to pop open the hood of the site and do some much-needed work on the site. A new look, cleaned up some typos, made everything look the same… Should work a LOT better on mobile now. Did a little learning of how this all works - if anything is not quite working, just let me know.

Also - if you were just in love with the old site, don't worry, I kept an old version here: Survive A DUI: Classic.

Hope everyone is staying safe and out of trouble!

New Year, New Laws - 2021

(Hey there, everyone - I first sent this post out via my newsletter - feel free to sign up for more updates like this. - Tom)

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.

Changing Laws

The first day of January usually involves a lot of changing laws, more often than not bringing the hammer down on DUI offenders harder, but that wasn't the case this year. As legislatures were unable to meet or otherwise occupied by the pandemic, DUI offenders weren't in the crosshairs for once. A nice feeling.

Instead the theme of this year's new laws: Justice Reform.

After the George Floyd incident and protests the tide shifted in this country, whether you agree with those sentiments towards police or not, and legislators acted in response (it was an election year, after all).

(Again standard legal disclaimer here: I'm not a lawyer, and I'm definitely not your lawyer, any analysis of this is me just trying to piece things together from the news/bills and I don't know the full ins-and-outs of how all this goes down. I'm giving you my best idea, however)

Arizona

Legalized recreational marijuana - can still get a DUI-Drugs.

California

AB 3234 - Allows misdemeanor DUIs to become eligible for diversion. Once diversion is completed, the crime doesn't stick to your record.

I haven't gotten into the nuts-and-bolts of this one (these types of programs aren't laid out beforehand), but I'm guessing it's a lot like other programs - fines, probation, meetings - a lot of what you already do when convicted - and they seal your record automatically once it's done. No longer does a non-expunged DUI hang over your head for ten years. I'm guessing it'll still be prior-able since they love to be able to still stick it to you when they have a chance, and it'll stay on your DMV record so you're not getting a break on insurance.

That said - it's a great step forward. A DUI doesn't need to ruin somebody's life, it needs to teach them a lesson. Most of us have learned ours from the feeling of seeing police lights in the rearview.

The big caveat of this: It won't apply to a DUI you already have. If you've been convicted you'll still have to apply for an expungement the old fashioned way.

AB 1076 - Under this law, the state will automatically clear records for arrests that did not result in conviction after the statute of limitations has passed, and those around probation and jail once the sentence is completed.

This goes hand-in-hand nicely with the other law - if you don't receive diversion (it's up to the judge) and get convicted as you would have prior, your records will be sealed as if you got an expungement. This saves you the time and money of the process (which was difficult for me, and I plan to write about soon).

It's also nice to see a clearing of the arrest that doesn't lead to convictions - a lot of people think that if they get off then everything is fine, but an arrest still shows up on your record. That will no longer be the case.

However, like before, this only applies to arrests/and convictions after Jan 1, 2021.

Prop 17 - If your previous DUI was a felony, you may be eligible to regain your right to vote (it's insane that we take away voting rights like this in the first place).

Montana

Legalized recreational marijuana - can still get a DUI-Drugs.

New Hampshire

Commercial truck drivers - or anyone driving a vehicle weighting 10,001 lbs or more, will automatically have their DWI upgraded to an Aggravated DWI, which carries a larger fine (up to $750 from $500, but don't think that's what you'll be paying) and a mandatory minimum of 17 days in jail (12 days will be suspended if the driver submits to a substance use disorder evaluation). Additionally, those commercial drivers who refuse to submit to a breathalyzer will have their commercial license suspended immediately instead of having that little bit of wiggle time before it was suspended.

Harsh. Commercial drivers used to be subject to the same laws as ordinary drivers, but no longer.

New Jersey

Legalized recreational marijuana - can still get a DUI-Drugs.

Pennsylvania

A "Move Over" law was enacted - if an emergency vehicle is at the side of the road, you need to move over a lane away from them or slow down to 20 MPH under the speed limit. Give them some space or police will have a reasonable cause to pull you over.

South Dakota

Legalized recreational marijuana - can still get a DUI-Drugs.

Virginia

As of 1/1/21 - You can't drive while holding a cell phone. Only related to DUIs because it gives a reasonable cause to pull somebody over.

Traveling

Tangentially related to DUI issues is the Real ID card - it was supposed to be required to fly this previous years, but in interest of keeping DMVs less crowded and/or closed, they delayed it until October. You'll need a Real ID compliant license to step on an airplane. So, if your license was suspended you'll either need to use a Passport, or get a Real ID state ID card to get on board. If you are getting a new license after suspension, be sure to get a Real ID compliant license. If you've just gotten one, then you either need a passport or have to go through the renewal process/fee again.


These are all the ones related/semi-related to drinking and driving that I could find. Has your state issued one I missed? Let me know!

Tom.

Guest Post: Psychological Impact of a DUI Charge

Got a reader submission from John who wanted to talk about the psychological impact of all this - Tom

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. They crave for a support system, as they do not know how to deal with a criminal allegation. Some offenders make the mistake of misbehaving with the police officers, which further worsens the conditions. It is natural for a person to go through a range of emotional phases while dealing with a DUI charge:

Shock and Denial
Being pulled over by the traffic police is typically an unpleasant surprise. On the top of that, getting handcuffed by a stern officer and being dragged to the police station is nothing less than horrifying. The proceedings seem like a nightmare and you hope to wake up any second. You tell yourself that you did not do anything wrong and want to run free, but find yourself restrained. You are not ready to take responsibility of your actions and face the consequences. You believe that denial will enable you to get past this.

Fear and Fury
Anger gets the best of you when the police treats you like a criminal and disrupts your plans. You clearly never intended to land in jail, thereby you curse your luck. You may yell or hit something in the heat of your desperation and frustration. At the same time, you are also frightened of what is yet to come. You are scared of having to spend the night in jail and no one coming to your rescue. If a family member sees you like this, how will you explain? 

Remorse and Embarrassment
When you realize that you were wrong and cannot undo what has happened, the guilt begins to set in. You regret every action that led you to that moment. You wish you never had a drink or got behind the wheel, but it’s too late. You wonder what your family and peers will have to say once they find out about your criminal offense. You dread the fact that your mug shot shall become public and everyone you know will see it. You cannot stop thinking about the implications of a criminal record on your job or education. 

Despair and Anxiety
When everything is out in the open and you are left helpless, despair takes over. You are sad that you let others down and risked your own future. You become a patient of depression after receiving rejection from the society and losing several privileges you had earlier. You want to go back in time, but things will never be the same. You pledge to never drink or drive again because you cannot bear reliving the recent events. 

Accepting Reality
Time heals wounds, thus you gradually become calm and complacent. You are adhered to the altered lifestyle, so it doesn’t bother you anymore. As you make peace with reality, everything starts shifting back to normal. You can never forget the incident, but you learn to live with it.  

Moving On
You start putting your life back together and strive to make things right. You try to invoke optimism and step forward. You hope to earn back the trust of people who matter the most, and not repeat your mistakes. 

Author Bio
John Adams writes about physiological traumas and personal healing. He encourages readers to fight their fears and overcome the obstacles holding them back. He believes that any person can improve the quality of his or her life by incorporating positivity in every thought and action. He loves to share his insight on life experiences, and contributes on various online platform in the same niche.