You stopped at your favorite watering hole for a drink after work. Some acquaintance at the bar buys a round of shots, which you didn’t plan on, but don’t turn down. You had a light lunch and dinner is waiting at home. After two beers and that shot, you hop in your car to head out. That’s when you notice the lights behind you. Then the sirens. That’s when you get your first Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge. Life is about to get tough.
There are a million thoughts and questions that one has when going through the criminal process for DUI. “Am I a criminal?”, “How much is this going to cost?”, “Will I lose my driver’s license?” and “Will I go to jail?” are common and important queries to ask. Your attorney should be able to answer these for you. Be aware, you are dealing with criminal court and jail is a possibility. Consequently, you should hire counsel as soon as possible.
One question that many ask is: “Am I an alcoholic?” Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) says only you can truly and definitely answer that question. The first step in AA requires one to admit they have a problem and realize they are powerless to control it. If you are unwilling to make such an admission for whatever reason, AA is not for you. After a DUI, however, the legal system is going to partially answer that question for you. You will not be treated as a citizen who can be trusted to not drink and drive. At a minimum, you will be handled as someone whose drinking has caused significant legal troubles and, by definition, that means you have a problem with alcohol/substance abuse. Incidentally, if you lose your job or your wife leaves you because of your drinking, any substance abuse counselor worth their salt will look at you as having a severe problem, if not diagnose you as an alcoholic. The bottom line is that you are no longer considered a responsible drinker and will be treated with suspicion when it comes to your drinking habits.
Alcohol abuse can evolve into full blown alcoholism over time. It is a progressive disease that often starts off as social drinking and ends up with treatment facilities, institutionalization, or even death. The courts know this. Prosecutors know this. Defense attorneys know this. The police know it, too. Showing up to court conveying an attitude that you were just unlucky isn’t going to make the professionals in the justice system feel better. Hopefully, you’ve hired competent counsel who has advised you in this regard. If your arrest for DUI didn’t scare and humble you, a judge is likely to be all the more concerned. If you minimize your drinking before a judge, it is likely she will see you as someone living in denial over a bad drinking problem. She will not take your word for it that you just made a mistake.
So, what does all this preaching mean? Is your social life over? Do you have to quit drinking? No, but to be blunt, you should lay off the sauce for some time and evaluate your alcohol use. If you find your anxiety sky rockets without booze, don’t drink! Go to a doctor and talk about it. Sure, they may send you to therapy or put you on meds, but few ever get jailed for Driving After Counseling or for taking prescribed medications responsibly. Maybe your doctor recommends treatment. They don’t do that lightly. If an MD says you need treatment, take it seriously. Again, no one gets arrested for taking care of themselves.
Certainly, your DUI might be a one-off thing. Many people get their first DUI and make it their last. They get rides home or take a cab after the office holiday party. They walk to the bar if they know they’ll be drinking. You may be a social drinker who has learned their lesson and that’s it. So, give it a go as soon as you feel ready. If you can limit your drinks, turn down the shot that the good-natured inebriant at the bar buys you, and most importantly, if you can make an arrangement to get home without driving, you’re doing it right! If, however, you can’t limit your drinking for one reason or another, can’t turn down a free shot or break the habit of drinking on your drive home, don’t wait to talk to a medical professional or go to an AA meeting. It may save you money, stress, your license, your life and the lives of others.
Have You Been Charged With DUI (Driving Under The Influence)In South Dakota?
If you've been accused and arrested for driving under the influence in South Dakota you need to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 888.864.9981 to schedule your free consultation.