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Reader talks of DUI, responds to Dehmel's 'letter to the editor'

Published: 10:10 PM, 10/12/2012

Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Dear Editor,


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 letter.

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 alcohol.)

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 a conscience.


Paulette Pier


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.)

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