Author: Georgina Clatworthy
Published: Jun 28 2012
Getting arrested for a Driving under the Influence (DUI) charge can have devastating ramifications. Not only is there senses of public shame but also private lives are affected. The charges can also carry a severe prison sentence for repeat offenders.
Having a criminal record has a number of social ramifications, and most communities look down on offenders. Increasingly, public interest groups lobby for stricter punishments and certain incidents can lead to community outrage. When advising clients on the potential outcome of their DUI case, The Wilson Law Firm say 'depending on the severity of the charge, the prosecuting attorney may look for jail or prison time. Accidents that lead to injuries and death are serious, and judges routinely sentence offenders to lengthy stays in one of the state penitentiaries.' It goes without saying that this can have a huge impact on family life and as well as the stress on your family, many offenders have found themselves shunned by friends and neighbors too.
In addition to jail sentences, social stigma and pressure on your personal life, there is the looming issue of criminal background checks. These are more common than ever and are required by most employers and landlords. Many employers will routinely dismiss applicants for any type of criminal record, and a DUI is an impediment to employment.
Depending on the severity of the charge and whether or not you are a first time or multiple offender, the courts may have imposed certain conditions on you. These can include attending drug or alcohol rehabilitation sessions, having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle or they may have imposed a jail term.
What you do after a DUI conviction is important. You will need to deal with the fall out from your actions and in most cases, show both the courts and family and friends that you are taking steps to avoid further convictions. Even if the court does not impose DUI programs on you, you should still consider attending meetings or sessions. The options available to you will depend on the nature of your conviction but typically you should look to the following:
Typically these would include groups such as alcoholics anonymous (AA). In most states DUI offenders will be required to attend sessions and prove to the courts that they have taken steps to resolve their drug and alcohol abuse problems. Groups can be found locally and you should be able to find one relevant to your particular issues. These groups are there to help you and many who attend them find they feel empowered by the group sessions. Remember the AA support network is there to help you with finding ways to cope with the aftermath of your conviction and help you formulate strategies for moving forward with your life.
Kevin Wilson, a DUI lawyer in Virginia advises those who are found guilty of DUI to keep in mind that they can be ordered by the courts to attend sessions for the purposes of DUI evaluation and treatment; 'you may consider this as punishment but these sessions are designed to help and support. Attending such groups will help you see you are not alone.'
You may not have been ordered to attend group sessions such as those offered by AA, or you do not feel they are for you. Another option is to find a counsellor or therapist to help you identify issues and work through them. Often sessions like these will be on a one-to-one basis although it maybe possible to take your spouse or partner with you on occasions.
Having the support of family and friends can make a huge difference to your ability to deal with the issues that led to your DUI conviction. But they too may find they need additional help and support so they can begin to understand what you are going through. Look for meetings with groups like Al-Anon who can help teach them what alcoholism is. These meetings can help those around you determine how best to support and help you.
Alcoholics Anonymous also hold 'open meetings' where anyone can attend and this is a good opportunity to take family or friends along so they can see what happens at these sessions.
It can be difficult, but above all you should seek to avoid situations where you may be tempted into drinking. Try to avoid your old drinking haunts and buddies who may not be the best influence on you. Social occasions can be the hardest but the support groups you attend will help you find coping strategies and give you the confidence to avoid temptation.
One of the best ways to deal with stress is to keep busy. If you didn't have one before, get yourself a hobby, leisure pursuit or other interest which will engage your mind and keep you from dwelling on your conviction and issues. Taking up regular exercise will not only reduce stress but also help you maintain a healthier lifestyle.
From the moment you are charged with DUI to the time you are sentenced you need to be taking steps to help ease your situation. These include contacting a DUI attorney to acknowledging the cause of your problems. Talk to those people around you, as all will be able to help and support you. One Virginia DUI attorney says he would always advise those on a DUI charge to talk to their lawyer about coping strategies and support groups, as well as the legal implications of a DUI conviction.
Bio: This article was written by Georgina Clatworthy, freelance writer producing content about DUI and traffic violations. She was also the former editor of legal website 1Lawyersource and is now a contributory writer for the DUI team at The Wilson Law Firm.
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