Wednesday, April 03, 2013

DUI -- taking action and responsibility

Today, as I was running errands, two poignant memories came to mind. Both having to do with drunk driving.

First, I recalled a moment when my brothers and I were small. My mom had taken us to visit relatives one evening. As our bedtimes approached, Mother's cousin volunteered to drive us home. The offer to give us a lift sounded good -- until the cousin got behind the wheel. It was pretty clear that our relative was driving under the influence.

We kids were terrified. My mother kept silent, but I could tell that she was uncomfortable, too. As I would learn when I got older, our cousin loved his alcohol a little too much. For years to come, this experience would color my view of drunk drivers. I live in California. In my community, DUIs are taken very seriously.

Fast forward a couple of decades. A incident involving another cousin, Sam, got me thinking about a california dui first offense. Unlike my first relative, my cousin Sam had a very good driving record. Sam had recently graduated from college, was gainfully employed, and was thinking about making education his career. One weekend he went back to his university to attend the graduation of a younger friend. The guys went to a club and celebrated with a few drinks. My cousin drove back to the dorm, where he was going to spend the night.

A friend called, begging for a ride to the campus so that he could be in on the celebration. Sam, being a good sport, agreed to pick up the friend. My cousin did not realize that when he got into his car, his life would change in the blink of an eye.

 He exited the campus, and made a right turn. As soon as he did, red lights flashed behind him.

Sam didn't realize it, but a police officer was sitting at the exit to the campus. The officer asked Sam to walk a straight line and to do a few other things. Sam thought he did everything perfectly. The officer had a different opinion. Sam spent the night in jail, something he never expected to do.

I talked to my cousin the next day, after he was released. He was embarrassed and disappointed in himself. However, he quickly faced reality and realized that he was going to need an attorney, particularly one experienced in dui california first offense. I decided to help my cousin with some legal research and was surprised to learn that people facing a charge of driving under the influence have only ten days after their arrest to request an administrative hearing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Missing the deadline can result in some tough consequences.

Sam found a good lawyer after talking with some friends. He also checked online for a law firm that had some DUI-related products to view. My cousin learned a hard lesson, but he took it like a man.

The process involved several steps. For instance, he agreed to take a chemical test, got his license suspended for a few months, agreed to file formal proof of insurance for the next three years, and agreed to go to traffic school. Of course, he also had his day in court.

Sam found that there was, indeed, a light at the end of the tunnel. He fulfilled his obligations and even got that job in education. Case closed.


S A J Shirazi said...

What a case you have made? And so nicely.

Deb Sistrunk said...

Thank you, Shirazi. It is a topic near and dear to my heart.