It has been three months since my DUI conviction.

Here’s what has happened since that day in July when I received my DUI conviction:

So first, the pieces that were relatively easy to knock out. 48 hours in jail sucks, and it was the most boring 48 hours of my entire life, but it was easy.  The fine and costs set me back and I’m still paying off those and the lawyer, but that is what it is.  The VASAP classes were 30 minutes out of my life every Wednesday night for ten weeks, but literally just involved showing up.  The victim impact panel was a little tough, but again, it just involved showing up and hearing a heartbreaking story for an hour.

Now, the hardest part about a DUI conviction – the restricted driver’s license and interlock.

While almost all first-time offenders are eligible for a restricted driver’s license, the process of getting a restricted license is not easy.  Then comes the more difficult part – realizing just how much we take our unrestricted driving privileges for granted.

Need to go grab something at the store? In the past, you could just hop in your car and go, now you can’t.  Well, you can, but you shouldn’t.  If you get into an accident, you will be found in violation of your restriction. And remember, most accidents happen within a mile or two of one’s home. I am lucky in that there is a grocery store next to my workplace and another one within walking or biking distance of my house. Anything else? Well, let’s just say that Amazon and other online shopping retailers are a godsend.

It makes you feel like a burden when you make plans with someone, and remind them that you cannot drive. I’ve been lucky in that I have a few great friends who have not minded driving when we hang out, but you always have this nagging feeling inside that you are not pulling your share in the relationship since you cannot take a turn driving.

And then there’s the interlock device. This thing is an expensive pain in the ass. I am careful to wait 20 or so minutes after brushing my teeth before I try to start my car, because toothpaste can cause the presence of mouth alcohol.  I tested myself after brushing my teeth with my personal breathalyzer device and registered a 0.56! This went down rapidly, but took 15 minutes and a lot of water to clear back to a 0.00. In addition, after three months I’m still embarrassed by the thing. I park in isolated areas of the parking lot at school and at work, and always try to get gas at the pumps on the peripherals at the gas station.

That said, the restriction has disciplined me. I drink on average one beer or glass of wine per week, sometimes not even that. I stopped having a shift beer at work. That bar I used to stop at when I got off work a little early to have a meal and a beer or two?  I just drive right by it without giving it any thought. I do not miss the place at all.  On my days off when I’m at home, if I get a little stir-crazy, I hop on my bike and go to a nearby coffee shop and do work.  Having to work for that trip to the coffee shop makes it more rewarding.  I am also not tempted to stop in one of the nearby bars (including the ones I was in the night of my arrest), because I know I will have to bike home.

The biggest change here? My belly has shrunk and I have gone down a whole pants size on my waste.

In conclusion, it all becomes routine after a while. You set little milestones, and then celebrate internally when you reach them.  My milestones so far have included completing VASAP and getting the restricted driver’s license. I only have three months remaining with the interlock program (halfway there!). Nine months until total freedom. Five years until I can possibly return to Canada!

Overall, I would say with certainty that I have learned my lesson. A DUI is dangerous and not worth the hassle. I will not be in this position ever again.

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