By Joe Schrank and Scott Bienenfeld, M.D.
If there is anything we can all agree upon in the world of drinking, it’s that drinking and driving don’t mix; we’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would argue against that. It seems like a simple boundary yet, thousands of new Yorkers each year are faced with DUI charges. New York has strict boundaries and penalties with regards to this offense. Furthermore,penalties increase with each offense and could even include fines and/or jail time. In addition to the law, there is the immense guilt, shame and social stigma that come with a DUI.
A DUI can put tremendous strain on one’s personal relationships and family life. It can mean lost time from work and it can create financial burdens. The best way to avoid all of this is to take a cab, but that doesn’t always work out perfectly. So, what do you do if you do have a DUI?
A legal issue for sure, it is also an opportunity to take a good hard look at your own drinking habits. After all, these messes don’t happen after too many sodas or glasses of water! Also, by the time a person is stopped for driving under the influence, they have probably driven drunk at least ten times. Hence, there are a number of reasons to employ help after being convicted of a DUI. For one, it will help your legal issues. From a legal standpoint, the judge usually wants to know that the individual deserves the public trust when operating a car, and many judges like the idea that a person can receive treatment and get better. Often times, lawyers look for the loophole or the semantics of how to best protect their client (and rightfully so), but they may not think to recommend treatment and that may not serve the client in the long run.
If there have been prior offenses, the stakes are higher and convincing the judge may not be so easy. Intensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse could be the level of care that would give the individual the comprehensive support needed for the best outcome. Furthermore, multiple offenses point to a greater likelihood of substance abuse issues. Going into court armed with consistent attendance and participation in mental health treatment will never hurt a case, it can only help. More than helping your case, it may help you and your family. Below is a list of tips to follow if you are convicted of driving under the influence.
I Just Got A DUI – NOW WHAT?
Follow these 8 tips
1. Don’t Panic: Yes, it is scary, but don’t panic – it never helps. Remain calm, and consider your options – you have many.
2. Find A Good Lawyer: Like any other profession, there are good, great and sketchy ones out there – take the time to find a good lawyer who you trust, and you feel you can work well with.
3. Consider Treatment: Judges are very often amenable to the idea that when people get treatment, they get better. Entering a reputable treatment program run by a medical doctor can go a long way towards reducing your sentence. Many lawyers forget to recommend this!!
4. Be Open To The Idea That You May Have A Drinking or Drug Problem: For each DUI a person is stopped for, they have probably driven drunk at least 10 times. This is a red flag that may indicate a more serious problem with alcohol!
5. Limit Your Driving: The last thing you want is another moving violation of any kind. If you live in an urban environment, take mass-transit. If you enter treatment, try to find an urban-based recovery program where you do not have to drive – it is a lot easier that way!
6. Form Your Advocacy Team: A team approach always works best. Substantiate your claims of improvement with professional help – laypeople’s opinions are way less impactful on judge’s opinions.
7. Educate Yourself About State and Local DUI Laws: You may not be a lawyer, but you can still be an informed consumer.
8. Do Not Lie To The Judge: Honesty is the best policy and lying usually only causes more problems in the long-run.