Freedom From Invisible Bars
The Hard Facts
I have waited for this day for a very long time. I could not say what I felt needed to be said until this day, the first day without being on probation. Yes, I was on probation for a DWI. I remember the very day I was arrested and taken to jail because I did something incredibly selfish and stupid. I drank and drove but oh it wasn't the first time.
I don't need comments of judgement, as I have certainly judged myself throughout this whole process. It has been a long journey. I will gladly tell you from start to finish if you should want to hear. The journey one endures after a DWI is something they have no choice but to face. It hurts. It's hard. Yet, it was my fault. That was one part that made it so hard. I would not be going through this if I had made a smarter choice. Uber or taxi was a smarter, cheaper, SAFER choice. The whole dilemma would never have taken place had I just not gotten behind the wheel after drinking.
The moment you find yourself having to do the road side sobriety test is incredibly painful to your ego. Yet your ego isn't yet open to this embarrassment as you are still in the midst of what is your drunken stupor. You think you are very capable of completing this test, yet I was told by my lawyer, even the sober individual can barely pass these tests. Stand on one leg, walk a straight line with one foot in front of the other, and by that I mean, the toe of your shoe has to touch the back of your heel step by step without falter. Oh and I love the reciting of the ABC's backwards. Yeah OK, I do that on the daily. NOT!
Then to get handcuffs slapped on you and placed into the vehicle. You try to plead your way out, I know I did. I begged the officer to give me another chance that I'd never do it again. There was no talking my way out of this one. There was no turning back time. I was going to jail, and that was just the very tip of the ice berg. My night in jail was cold, hard, and full of uncertainty. It was a Saturday and that was my blessing as I didn't have to worry about Monday morning and trying to get to work just yet.
Jail Bound and Waiting
I remember crying while being booked, my fingerprints being taken, along with my picture full of red blotchy skin from the crying. Describing it as absolutely awful is being kind. I was in the holding cell until they finished there and then another officer came to pick me up to take me to Harris County jail. I had no idea from moment to moment what was coming. The wait to be transferred felt like an eternity. I wondered if that was on purpose, to leave me sitting there in my turmoil and drunken stench to ponder my fate.
As sobriety slowly crept in, my night just got harder. Things got clearer, and the trouble I had caused myself became more apparent. Once I was transported to Harris County jail, I saw the women trickle in from drug addicts with no teeth, to other drunk drivers as well as those who were busted for stealing. The list goes on I'm sure.
Just the Beginning
This was only a prelude to what was to come. My night of sitting in jail as horrendous as it was, was only a mere glimpse into the coming days. They passed out bologna and cheese sandwiches and one oatmeal cream pie. I didn't eat but maybe a slice of cheese much later and some of my cream pie as I was so hungry. I was transferred from cell to cell as I awaited my court appearance the next morning. It seemed time was all you had in jail as there was a short supply of sleep, energy and peace of mind.
You did collaborate with some of the women who came in. They had bond amounts of five thousand and sometimes ten thousand dollars. Mine was one thousand but these fees were not what you pay going through a bonding agent. It was around 10-20% of that amount to the bonding agent.
They had 'pay' phones that were attached to the wall, no handsets or wires for obvious reasons. Just more like a speaker in the wall with buttons to dial out. It took forever getting through to anyone you called out to, and the line of women waiting to get on the phone behind you left you limited on time. Once through I learned my sweet sister had already contacted a bonding agent and put up the amount to have me released. She only did it so I would not lose my job, otherwise I would have sat in jail as a lesson to be learned.
It seemed like an eternity to get released from Jail. I had a lot of waiting to do. We were transported from different cells to wait going in front of the judge. Once I finally got in front of the judge, that was another point of humiliation. You were in a room full of individuals having to see the judge also, and the judge was on video. This judge would call out your case and I believe this is when I finally heard my rights get read to me. He told me what court my case would be assigned to, and later I'd find out the judge for this court was a tough judge. I was just glad that part of this 'thing' was over. Whatever you want to call this thing, circumstance, issue, dilemma...it was something I brought on myself.
Once the jail finalized my release papers, I remember being transported to the cell before the 'final' cell to be released. I could not wait to get to that last cell because once there you knew, you were almost home free. The wait was so long, and that alone made the jail time sickening. The officers seemed so arrogant sometimes, and one officer at the desk area to finalize your release, you could hear her yelling and she treated people like scum.
It made me mad in the fact that while yes, we messed up royally; some of us did just that, mess up. We weren't thugs, we made a mistake. We really did. I realized later that she had to be tough, because she did deal with downright thugs who didn't care, who murdered and would do so again if given the chance. I won't lie, she scared me. I knew she could keep me there longer. The last cell I got to, there were groups of women, some what they call weekenders, who they only came on weekends to complete their sentence in jail instead of 'on probation' like I later did. Two women in this last cell came to blows with words only, thank goodness not physical, but it got so loud I was sure the officers would come in and keep us all that much longer because of the drama.
Released Yet, Not So Free
We finally got to the point where the officer pulled us out into the line to get called to get our belongings at the counter and when the officer said you were free to walk out, I remember, it was a group of 3-4 of us ladies, we didn't just walk, we walk-ran out of that place. It was late at night and I saw cab drivers lined up knowing people needed rides. I was limited on what I had financially and the taxi driver was nice enough to give me a flat rate to a certain destination near home, where my mom (thank you Mom) picked me up and took me home.
I had a court date set that week to see the judge I was assigned to, on Christmas Eve of 2014 no less. I had contacted several attorneys and hired one that was a true God send. He walked me through what was the process initially, and that is when he told me that the court I was assigned to was a tough judge.
It was at that hearing, I was court ordered to have a breathalyzer attached to my car, and without it I could not drive any vehicle. As well as my monthly visits to a probation officer, and the upcoming stipulations I had to fulfill as a part of being on probation. That was the start of another part of this not so beloved journey, and my next blog. Stay tuned, you get to hear how much fun it was.
I discovered through this season of my life the gym on a new level. I used my time to get in there and push hard. I found out I'd rather lift a bar than sit in a bar. I'd rather build muscle from drinking protein shakes, than build a tolerance because of drinking excessive alcohol. I'd rather feel sore the next day because of a hard core work out instead of feeling sick the next day because of a hang over. I loved a quiet Friday or Saturday night in the gym instead of a loud and obnoxious one in a bar.
I learned that solitude can sometimes be the best thing for self-discovery, growth and even opportunity. I started liking what I saw spiritually, mentally and physically. The results came more now with the effort I put in, than they ever had. I had a long way to go, but I also came a long way. I wasn't where I wanted to be, but I also wasn't where I used to be. I was on a path that I enjoyed although not the path of least resistance, but one of growth and learning. It gave me hope in the face of what I saw to be hopeless at first. The path that I am on I continue to grow, thankfully.
I have to at least add to this, please if you should find yourself drinking, not to be cliché', don't get behind the wheel. It really could be the last mistake you make because you don't make it to your destination. You could change the outcome by making just one smart choice. Getting an alternative way home really is cheaper. Please I urge you; do not even think of drinking and driving. Think of the ramifications. Each day I am thankful that this DWI was the least of what I endured. I could have killed someone or myself, or both. As tough as this was, having hurt or killed someone else would have destroyed my world.
It comes down to priorities, that is how I see it. What did I want to see in myself and also now, what do I want to see in the future to come?
Do you feel DWI laws should be tougher?
Food For Thought
Every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.
On average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
Every day in America, another 27 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.
An average drunk driver has driven drunk over 80 times before first arrest.