In response to Jim Dehmel's 'Letter to the Editor;
Weekend Sept. 22-23, 2012 issue of Newport Plain Talk,' maybe now my earlier
letter concerning my first DUI will be more considered for publication, or this
According to the 2010 issue of Tennessee Comprehensive
Driver License Manual, page 82, gives DUI Penalties: my first DUI; clean
driving record; not even a speeding ticket for over 15 years.
Here is some of what understanding just what a DUI costs:
In April 2011, I was arrested, charged with DUI and
failure to exercise due care, approximately one and a half hours after my car
left the highway and hit a utility pole, then bonded out after six hours.
Approximately four months of waiting drug and alcohol results, having to appear
every month, awaiting a copy of the video and the state trooper to show up. It
was dismissed in Nov. with the words, "It could still go before the Grand
Jury." When asked if I understood what that meant, I replied
"no," but only the same words came back-nothing about what happened
in January (the following year).
I was rearrested. This time, I spend six and a half days
in jail before being told I could have been bonded out in 48 hours. When I was
rearrested, I used my phone call (after asking if I could make a call). I used
it to call the bonding agent. Then I found out, my bond was no longer good
since it was dismissed in General Sessions court! So now my call was void. I
was put in a cell (and that's another story that needs to be told), later found
out to be called the "drunk tank," for about two days/nights, no
phone. Once put into a "larger" cell, I got to use the phone and
began calling for help to get out.
My BAC was (from medication) was over by 0.3 on one of my
medications. No alcohol. (And medication stays in the system longer than
In the second court, on arraignment date, I had another
court appointed attorney, whom I tried to reach before the court date with no
response due to answering machine problems at their end, so I wrote nothing. I
had or felt I had not other choice but to hire another lawyer.
Court day-about one year had passed. Before Judge Hooper
makes a speech for those accepting the guilty plea, the lawyer tells me of a
"Plea Agreement" the prosecuting attorney has to offer and suggest I
take it. According to my attorney, "because of the letter I wrote to the
paper, 'they' were going to be tougher on me-according to the prosecuting
attorney,'" and how it could cost me more. "What does my writing
about what happened to me have to do with it? What about freedom of
speech?"-and hesitantly, I go and sign the paper.
Then once Judge Hooper gives his "talk," I am
regretting having signed that agreement. Only when I went to my first probation
meeting did I find out I had ten days to file a "Motion to withdraw my
guilty plea," and had it filed.
Thus far, the "financial cost" has been: for
court/attorney (that I did not even meet with, etc.): approximately $1,116;
plus: DUI Class, $150; plus: Drug & Alcohol Assessment: $35; plus: attorney
fees (two attorneys): $500 (plus the one when in General Sessions court,
another $200); plus: probation: $45 each month until fines paid. Then there's
the first bond, and if you get a restricted license: $67 (which I did, but does
me no good-it would if I worked or went to college full time). Next, there is
the cost of humiliation-not arrested once but two times for the same
"crime" and put in the paper, Police Records, twice; friends calling
to see if I had committed another "crime." Then, the loss of your
driving privileges for one year, means trying to find a ride when most have
their own lives and can barely fit their own goings in, much less try to find
the time to bring you to the grocery or doctor-necessity places. Then there's
the insurance and cost it goes up and how it is kept on your driving
record-I've heard five to ten years.
For me, that is a big deal. It all is. Because driving
have been my livelihood since I was age 24 and even though in 1994, I had no
choice but to go on disability, I have not stopped temporary work, driving, and
other jobs. Driving had been the most enjoyable and qualified work and now that
is messed up.
Why would anyone want to repeat the chances for a second
offense? Or how can they afford it? I was blessed I had my place to refinance
to get all the fines paid or I'd still be paying more because I would still be
under probation. Hopefully, this will be of help to anyone who is drinking or
taking any medications and driving. Even an accident, one car and utility pole
can lead to becoming a criminal.
So be sure to "count the cost" before getting
behind the wheel. It could save you money better spent elsewhere and more
importantly, a life, something even horrible to think about, if you still have
P.S.-It has not all been to no avail. I learned some of
my medication to be "Narcotics" and no longer take these. (Yes, call
me dumb, but not so much as I don't learn.)