In part 3 of this article, we continued our examination of coming to grips with, or Denying the existence of an alcohol problem in a 2nd Offense DUI.
In this 4th and final installment, we’ll recap and summarize our prior analysis, and attempt to put this whole subject in perspective, focusing on, more than anything else, how this process plays out in Court.
At the outset, we observed that, with only RARE exception, anyone facing a 2nd Offense DUI falls squarely into 1 or 3 categories:
1. Those in Denial, or who just don’t see a problem (yet),
2. Those who know something is wrong, but think they can learn to control or fix it, and 3. Those who finally have the light switch flipped and really get it.
In my Practice, I can usually be of significant help to those in the third category, who have had the light switch flip. I can work with them to understand the various kinds of Counseling and Treatment options, and help guide them into one which will not wear them down, either emotionally or financially. Because that commitment to Sobriety is usually rather strong at first, we can capitalize on that as we handle their case.
Those in the second group can also be helped quite a bit, but they have to give up control. In fact, it’s ironic that The Serenity Prayer, often read in AA, talks about just that; giving up control and accepting those things which a person cannot change:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
It’s that passing of the controls to someone else, who knows a lot more about the whole process than does the person facing the Charge, that’s necessary in order to produce the best outcome in a 2nd (or any) DUI case. Not to be too cynical, but a person must see and understand that their best thinking got them where they are.
The hope of the Court, and really that of everyone affected by a person’s 2nd DUI, is that they will eventually see the light and come to accept that their drinking needs to be put in the past. Simply NOT being adamant that they don’t have a problem, while not really a “first step,” is at least not a step in the wrong direction, either. We can work with that.
Those in the first group, who think they’ve just been unlucky and who deny any kind of problem with alcohol will be butting heads with the system every step of the way.
Depending on the age of the reader, you might or might not realize how ironic and unfortunate it is that, of all the good advice you ever received when you were young, none of it really sank in until it was too late. The same thing holds true for those struggling with a drinking problem. Since such a large part of my practice is Driver’s License Restorations, dealing with those in, and talking in detail about a person’s Recovery, is an everyday thing for me.
In that regard, I get to hear people talk about still being in denial despite the fact that, in some tragic cases, everyone a person knew had left them because of their drinking. In other words, they get to see just how right all those words of advice and caution were, even though they ignored them all at the time.
And this brings us back to the point about at least accepting those things you cannot change. Those who know they have a problem and are working on it will be easy to guide. Those who aren’t quite there yet, but who are struggling with that realization can likewise be led through, and safely navigate the world of 2nd Offense DUI if they follow directions.
Those in Denial must, first and foremost, learn to at least shut up. If there ever came a time to listen to your Lawyer (assuming of course that he or she know this stuff and otherwise knows what they’re doing), this is it. And I wouldn’t waste my time just indulging someone. Being the Layer for someone facing a 2nd Offense DUI is NOT the time to pussyfoot around another person’s opinions. If experience has taught me anything, it’s that you’re paying me to work this out, so let me do that. Don’t obstruct me. You wouldn’t go to the Dentist to have a tooth pulled and refuse to take your hand out of your mouth, would you?
In the end, people in one of those 3 groups we identified at the outset of this article will ultimately have to find and hold their place in one of them.
Those who finally “get it” will often begin a lifetime of Sobriety. Recovery is a process, so the path can, at times, be bumpy, but eventually staying sober becomes second nature. Life goes on. For these people, it just continues to get better.
Those who are struggling with the notion that something isn’t right will either move forward, and get sober, or just kind of stay stuck in an ongoing battle with their drinking. Often, some subsequent, major consequence acts as a “bottom,” propelling the person into Recovery. Other times, people just waste away their days being less productive than they otherwise could if they’d just surrender. Whatever the outcome, people in this group will never again feel “good” about their drinking. They might rationalize their problem, but they cannot deny it, at least not completely.
Those who are in Denial will almost certainly wind up in trouble again. Hollywood is filled with stories of talent wasted away by drink and drugs. What might seem intolerable to you or me isn’t even close to a “bottom” for someone else. One Macomb County Circuit Court Judge once said to a Defendant (not mine, by the way…) standing before him something to the effect that he knew the guy had a disease (alcoholism), but that in some cases, (like that guy’s), the disease was stronger than the person, and they just couldn’t beat it. Thus, the Judge couldn’t protect the guy from himself, but he had an obligation to protect society from him. I suppose that was cold comfort as the guy got led away to begin serving a Prison term.
As much as a 2nd Offense DUI “sucks,” it can be the catalyst for a major life change. Beyond avoiding further legal troubles, getting sober can really be like getting a 2nd chance at life. My job is to help my Client in every way, which includes, but is clearly NOT limited to the legal aspects of their DUI. Above and beyond everything else, however, any change a person makes, and any help they accept, must come from within.
When that’s not the case, the best thing they can do is to shut up and let their Lawyer do the thinking.