Have you ever gotten a DUI? I don’t recommend it, but I also do. If you want a lengthy and thorough tangle with your justice system, a DUI is a fine way to go about it. You get a colorful, archetypal interaction with a cop. You get suddenly and depressingly (and slightly painfully!) twisted into handcuffs. You are taken in for booking, you chat with a booking officer, you are mugshotted, fingerprinted, you spend the night in jail. Sometimes alone, sometimes with the company of a bible, sometimes with a shirtless terror. You hand over your things. You get your things back. You are released onto city streets in the terrible yellow morning. You go home and sleep. You wake up forgetting anything happened. You remember that something happened.
You have a court date! You look up the consequences of your actions. The upper threshold of these consequences are heart-stopping. Six months in jail! A $10,000 fine! Could this happen to you? Maybe a judge wants to make an example of you. There are political vagaries that drive the example-making process. Someone is up for reëlection. They get tough on crime. You are a criminal now! Are you ready for exemplary toughness?
Maybe you get a lawyer. Maybe you don’t. They cost about $1,000 for the kind of wrecked scumbag that makes a living off DUI cases. Oil builds up in the pockets of their pockmarked faces. They are literally slippery.
Unless you really blew it you’re going to get the same punishment as every single idiot that goes through DUI court. Probably an $1,800 fine, a couple days in “jail,” which is invariably mitigated into work-release, which if you like to be Platonic about things means you’ll be picking garbage off the side of the highway. Also, like, $750 in court fees. Your license gets taken away and you have to get a special rider on your insurance to get it back. This will cost you between $250 and $750 per year for the next three years. Oh! You also get to go to DUI class, which is utterly hilarious and which will cost you, god, I don’t know, $500? Plus twelve to eighteen weeks of your time. Miss a class and start all over! A delightful ultimatum.
I got a DUI on a moped, which is “funny” because I could go no faster than 25mph on my soggy little moped. The booking officer took the arresting officer aside and told him this was kind of pointless. The booking officer took me aside and told me what to tell the judge in order to get my sentence downgraded. It worked, more or less. All told my arrest and punishment cost me $4,800. “Ha ha.”
Be sure to get a copy of your police report. Read with embarrassment about how badly you failed those roadside tests that you thought you aced. Turns out you didn’t, in fact, touch your nose. Turns out you can’t say the alphabet backwards. Your third-grade self is really disappointed in you.
Be sure to dress up for court. It is court. You are in a courthouse. You are in a court of law. You will stand before a judge, a bailiff will be eying you. Behave commendably and accept your knocks with gratitude.
See? It is a terrible experience but it is one of the less terrible and more-controlled versions of a terrible experience to have. Also: you deserve a terrible experience. You were drinking and driving. That’s a terrible thing to do. Don’t for a moment pretend like it’s an okay thing to do. Don’t fuss, you shitty baby.