It seems to happen in a flash: one minute, you’re enjoying a night out, laughing and goofing off with friends. The next, you are in handcuffs and being led to a police cruiser.
You are facing incarceration, fines, the suspension or revocation of your license, and a long road of rehabilitation, and perhaps the installation of an ignition interlock device. But you can handle all that. What’s going to be even harder to face is how angry and disappointed your family and friends will be when they hear the news.
Getting arrested for DWI is devastating. However, it isn’t the end of your life. In fact, many people use a drunk-driving arrest as the catalyst to help them make better choices in the future. Here’s how you can not just survive, but thrive in the aftermath of a DWI arrest.
First Things First
So your car is totaled? You broke your arm and suffered a concussion? That’s too bad, but things could be a lot worse. If you walked away from an accident that you caused, and didn’t kill anyone, you should be thanking your lucky stars for giving you this wakeup call.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Americans die every day in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident. That’s one death approximately every 50 minutes.
Get Out of Jail (But Not for Free)
Spending time in jail is a frightening experience for someone who’s never been in trouble with the law before — but it does give you the opportunity to sober up and face reality. If you are lucky enough to have a loved one who will bail you out of jail, you’re another step ahead, however. It’s a lot easier to work on your defense when you are not behind bars.
When you do get out of jail, behave yourself! This is not the time to drown your sorrows, go on a drug binge, or try to make a getaway. Steer clear of any activity that could jeopardize your bail or hurt your legal case.
Hire an Attorney
One of the first items on your to-do list after being bailed out is to contact a DWI attorney. He or she will help you understand the law, your rights, and the next steps you should take.
“A lawyer may not be able to get your case dismissed, but it might be possible to plea bargain or craft a strategic defense, which will mitigate the consequences you face,” says David Hunter, who many consider the best Fort Bend DWI attorney in practice today.
Chances are that you never want to repeat this experience. An attorney will ensure that you don’t pay too dearly for a lesson you have already learned.
It’s Time to Get Sober
You have no doubt heard that alcoholics and drug abusers must “hit bottom” before they can recover from their addiction. A DWI arrest is about as low as a person can get. Therefore, this experience should prompt you to stop drinking once and for all.
It is not going to be easy, but it’s the right thing to do. Talk to your friends and family about your decision, and accept any help that they might offer, like financial assistance to attend a rehab facility or even just their moral support as you get sober.
As part of your sentence, you may be mandated by the court to undergo treatment — detox, inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, or a combination — for your addiction. In some instances, voluntarily checking into rehab before your court date might work in your favor when it comes to sentencing. Discuss these options with your attorney before making a decision.
Making Amends After an Accident
You may feel that it will be impossible to make amends for the damage you have caused by drinking and driving. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
A good start is to apologize to anyone who has been affected by your behavior, whether directly or indirectly: people who were injured in the accident, the person who bailed you out, the family members whom you now must rely on for transportation and other favors.
At the same time, however, you’ll also need to forgive yourself. It won’t do any good to continue beating yourself up for this mistake; the damage is done, and the best thing to do now is to move on and try to mend your ways. A therapist or counselor can help you process your feelings in a healthy way and learn how to live with yourself.
There may come a time in the future when you look back on your DWI arrest and are grateful; without hitting bottom, it’s difficult to face your problems and overcome them. If no one was hurt and you got clean and sober as a result of this experience, you can consider it a lesson well learned.