In January of 2015, I got a DUI. I was driving drunk.
In March of 2015, my license was revoked.
I had to pay approximately $1600 in court fees, another $300+ for 3 months of classes about alcohol/drugs and driving under the influence, and the danger that alcohol/drugs pose not only to those using addictive substances, but to everyone else.
In the spring, as part of the terms of my sentence, I went to jail — for about 4 hours. The county jails were full, and so they were only booking/releasing people with minor offenses like mine. I was lucky. Even just being in the holding area was pretty grim. I would have had to serve a week of jail time otherwise, and I don’t imagine it would have been pleasant.
To get my license back, I needed to pay off all fees related to the case, I needed to complete the classes (and pay in full), and I needed to serve my sentence. When the fall of 2015 came around, I had completed every payment and the classes and I had been booked/released. With all of that taken care of, the final step was procuring an SR-22.
An SR-22 is a “Proof of Financial Liability” that is attached to your car insurance policy (an added cost to your policy) and filed with the DMV. You must have it filed with the DMV in order to get the license reinstated.
The problem was, I had never owned a car, so I had no insurance policy. I did some looking into it, and I would need to purhcase non-owner’s insurance plus the SR-22 in order to get my license reinstated.
Oh, and you have to pay a $125 to the DMV for reinstatement, plus an additional $28 to reissue the license. So with the DMV fees plus the few non-owner’s policies I’d read about, I was looking at shelling out no less than $400.
In the fall of 2015, I didn’t have $400 laying around, nor did I have the means to save up.
Thank goodness. I was still drinking at the time, and now that I’ve been sober for nearly 16 months, I can honestly say that I was in no place to be entrusted with my license. The DUI and the fees and then later having to go on unemployment had disintegrated what little left I had of my self-esteem. I was really, really low and having a license might have resulted in another DUI.
Of course, even after first getting sober, not having a license has often weighed heavy on my heart and mind. It’s been a constant reminder of how far I let myself fall, and how dangerous self-medicating can be, especially to those with family histories of addiction and depression. Not having the independence that a driver’s license gives a person was one of those things that made me feel like “not a real adult,” because certain things require a car.
Like taking a trip and being able to leave whenever you want and bring whatever luggage you want.
Like going to the grocery store or Target whenever you want and not having to carry 30 lbs of groceries back the 2 miles it takes to walk home.
Like being able to take yourself or a loved one to the doctor or to an appointment.
Like being able to offer rides to people who have been there for you so many times.
And a bunch more stuff.
So about three weeks ago, after shopping around, I found a great non-owner’s insurance policy with MIS (Matin Insurance Services) — they were so helpful and kind and understanding. If you are ever looking for insurance, I recommend them:
Then I finally got paid from the second session of summer camp, and so yesterday, I was at the DMV for nearly 6 hours (there were no appointments to be had until September, so I had to wait, plus they were having computer issues which doubled the wait time)…and when I left, I left with my paper interim license, $258 less in my bank account, and the good news that my CA Driver’s License card will arrive in 2-4 weeks!
I AM NOW A LICENSED DRIVER AGAIN.
It just cost me a lot of money, and time, and effort. Which, to me, seems like a perfectly reasonable consequence of a DUI. I still get mad at myself for putting others (and myself) at risk the way I did, and although no one and nothing was harmed as a result of my actions, the problem is that they easily could have been.
(The featured image in this post is from Refinery29, btw.)