Monday, July 27, 2015

Its my 2nd DUI that got me sober, why not the First one?

I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “Why didn’t you get sober after your first DUI?”  These people were not alcoholics mind you; they were normal drinkers who didn’t understand why anyone would get a DUI in the first place, let alone – GASP – a second one! It’s pretty normal to hear people at an AA meeting that have had five, six, seven, DUIs – commonplace really.  It’s also pretty normal to hear people that didn’t have any DUIs and they still got sober.  I always assumed those people lived in New York City, or had another bottom that didn’t relate to getting a DUI.  I’m grateful I didn’t live in NYC, because it was my second DUI that got me sober.  I didn’t get sober because I thought I had a problem.  I mean, let me explain, I knew I had a problem – I just didn’t give a crap.  I was fine living my life like a 20 year old tartlet and thought I was totally cool.  I was 37 years old and I was so not cool.  The State of California seemed to think that my DUI was something that needed to be addressed.  So here I was, sitting on my second DUI, and I was a bit of a hot mess and befuddled with how I ended up here.  I was still gallivanting around town like a collegiate party girl.  How did this happen?  It happened because I let it happen.  Feeling very defeated and worn out, my solution was to start drinking box wine at home and not go out anymore.  This was how I was going to live my life now.  Not once did I think I should quit drinking. 

The first DUI wasn’t that bad really.  It was five years prior and I was back home in suburban Philadelphia visiting family and friends over Christmas.  I was out at my local watering hole where everyone knew my name, my own personal “Cheers”.  We were doing shots, drinking like it was Senior Week - whooping it up - a normal evening among friends.  Driving back to my sister’s house I had apparently swerved and hit a couple trash cans on the side of the road.  BUSTED!  I scurried my butt back to California and had my Dad manage this inconvenience for me as I was living 3,000 miles away and didn’t have time to address this nuisance.  I attended 6 alcohol education classes and forged a certificate to say I did 20 hours of Community Service in San Diego. Easy Peasey.  

Fast forward to five years later where that fateful night had me out drinking in downtown Carlsbad.  I chose my apartment in downtown Carlsbad because of the location, as it was close to the downtown bar scene; this way I could drink and walk about town and not worry about driving.  Unfortunately for me that evening it was a balmy 60 degrees and I decided to drive.  Too chilly for this Philly gal.  At 11.30 pm, I pulled hurriedly into the parking lot of Texas Liquor, after just bumping over a central median.  Whew that was close!  Minutes later, sirens and flashing lights screeched in behind me and barricaded my vehicle.  Struck sober, I soon realized this wasn’t going to be the highlight of my weekend. 

Upon instructions from my lawyer, I was given the task of getting a court card signed by attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  He commented to me that since it was my second DUI, they could really throw the book at me.  Okay sure, I will go to a meeting.  But not tonight, I really need to drink. 

It took over six weeks for me to finally muster enough courage to walk into that AA meeting.  I remember sitting in my car cursing myself to get out and walk into the meeting.  How hard could this be? I only went because I wanted the court to show some mercy on me.  I had no intention of getting sober.  That was never even a thought. 

What I heard at that meeting was Hope.  Hope that maybe I could quit drinking.  Hope that maybe I won’t have to keep doing the same stupid shit that I’d been doing for the past 24 years and Hope that maybe there is another way to live.  Sober. 

I ran out of that meeting before the closing Serenity prayer ended and went home where I guzzled down two bottles of wine.  I drank every day for the next week and during that drunken week I had my moment of clarity.  BAM! The green flash of sunset and stark realization came to me; everything bad that had ever happened to me in my life was from drinking and drugging.  Everything.  I had nothing to show for my life.  I was alone, financially and emotionally starved, barely able to make ends meet and living a studio apartment.  I didn’t own anything.  I had pawned all I could, while going to payday loan places just to hold me until my next pay check.  I also had a recreational cocaine problem, did I mention that?

On that seventh day, I ended up at the Carlsbad Speaker Meeting in Carlsbad where I purchased a Big Book and heard a women share my story.  I figured I should give this sobriety thing a shot.  I had no other options. I haven’t looked back since and today my life is better than I ever could have imagined.  So glad I wasn’t living in NYC that evening.  That second DUI saved me, and it got me sober.  


  1. I think God will let you drop until you are willing to listen. I got out early. I have a friend doing twelve years for killing a woman. Congratulations to you!

  2. Hi Nancy,
    It is a great story to share and you have come so far since! Thank you for sharing and never forget how much an inspiration you are to people like me!


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  4. Hi Nancy, This is a great example what it's like to be alcoholic. When it comes to alcohol, there is no common sense. This sentence sums it up: "These people were not alcoholics mind you; they were normal drinkers who didn’t understand why anyone would get a DUI in the first place, let alone – GASP – a second one!". Thanks for your inspiring thoughts. Sober Coach Dave

  5. I guess that sometimes, it is human nature. People tend to not stop the wrong things that they do, until it hits them hard, and starts to threaten their very survival and well-being. If they feel that they can still work around it, they can continue. Which is why DUIs are not just a matter of precaution; they are also a matter of foresight. It's not about crossing the bridge when you get there, it's about avoiding that bridge entirely. Driving after having had a few drinks simply isn't recommendable.

    Stephanie Waters @ Chastaine Law

  6. Just ran upon your page and really enjoyed the story! I just got my first extreme dui and am still waiting to resolve the case. I truly can understand were you are coming from with your emotions and feelings here and I'm 10 years younger than you. This has been the most trying time in my life thus far, but with God and families support plus sobriety, I shall overcome!

    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for your comments and glad you are getting the help you need! Hope your journey is going well! Email me anytime.

  7. The time to choose your DUI lawyer is as soon as you are released from the jail. It took my 2nd offense to realize this. The attorney needs as much time as possible to be able to put together a case and to try and discover anything that might help them in their efforts to get the charges lessened. The reasons for choosing an attorney are numerous, consider a few of the more popular choices.

    Kim Hunter @ K Hunter Law

  8. The reason that you need to be working with a skilled DUI lawyer is that they can help you avoid the serious charges coming your way. The judge will evaluate if anyone was injured, if property was damaged, and how many times you have been convicted. The judge can impose fines, take away your license, recommend community service, and even sentence jail time.

    Modesto Culbertson @ D & Z Law Group