First Offense "physical Control"

First off, I just want to thank others who have shared on these boards. I've gone about three months now feeling completely alone in my experience, it has been such a blessing to be able to read your experiences, frustrations and struggles.

I was arrested on May 5th, 2011 for "physical control", not technically a DUI. However, I was soon to find out that the difference between them according to the state are meager at best.

I am 23 years old; NOT a drinker or heavy partyer. I am a social drinker, like most everyone in the world. I had just returned home from school and went out to celebrate both my homecoming and Cinco de Mayo with friends.

By the end of the night, I could feel the effects of the alcohol, but also felt very confident in my ability to drive. (Note: I recognize now that this was a mistake; even the fact that I felt the effects of the alcohol meant I should not have gotten into the car, and I deeply regret this.) At one point in driving home, I heard my phone ringing. I pulled over into what happened to be a parking lot as the street I was driving on had no shoulder. Before I know it - flashing lights, siren, and an officer outside my window.

I have an anxiety disorder that I have dealt with for about six years. I am not a particularly coordinated person by nature. None of these things endeared me to the officer. I immediately started panicking and crying and was unable to calm myself. I was forced to walk toe to toe in a line and say the alphabet backwards (things that I can't even do sober). I was NOT given a breathalyzer test. When the officer told me I was under arrest, I started sobbing and pleading with them to allow me to call someone to come and get me. The officer screamed at me that "this was not up for discussion" and I saw him move his hand to his gun. There you have it - cuffed, thrown into a squad car, driven to the station, fingerprinted and made to take a urine test. One fortunate thing was that I was able to call a friend to pick me up rather than spending the night in jail...lucky me.

So that this story isn't incredibly long, I will now resort to the cliffnotes: the total amount of money I have had to or will be paying for this mistake is approx. $3,000+ dollars, which retrieving my car from impound, paying a lawyer, paying a $250 dollar fine which is actually about $530 dollars with what they get away with calling (court costs), paying for an alcohol intervention program that I have to attend next week, not to mention the plane ticket back home to attend said class, and then finally reinstating my license in December. Not to mention the inevitable skyrocket of my car insurance, which as a grad student with an already terrifying amount of student loans, I don't know how I will manage to pay.

According to the state "justice system," I got off "easy" - 6 months license suspension, the alcohol course, the $250 (aka $530) fine, and 6 month probation.

I understand that I made a very big mistake, and I will always regret it. I understand that getting behind the wheel of a car while even scarcely under the effects of alcohol is an extremely poor decision, and I will NEVER MAKE IT AGAIN. I do not make excuses for what I did and I do not claim that I was in any way in the right.

But the thing that I do say, or at least the thing that I think (and honestly feel I can't share with anyone except my fiancee), is that our justice system is a piece of crap for what the consequences of my actions were. First of all, I was not arrested for or convicted of a DUI. It was physical control. Yet the punishment for both in my state is EXACTLY THE SAME. Physical control is behind found in the driver's seat of a car under the influence of alcohol, but not actually driving. This is 100% a victimless crime. Who possibly could be harmed by an intoxicated person SITTING in their car? WHY is the punishment exactly the same for this, especially for a first-time offender?!

Secondly, I was never given a breathalyzer test. My anxiety issues were never taken into account, and if I had been given a breathalyzer, then they would have seen that my panic and crying was for an entirely different reason than being drunk and disorderly. I PULLED OVER MY CAR IN ORDER TO ANSWER A CELL PHONE CALL, for goodness sake! What person who is intoxicated to the point of being unfit to drive does this?!

The worst part about this frustration is that I feel so silenced, like my opinion doesn't matter because I'm the one who made the mistake and I'm just making excuses. I'M NOT (read above statement of regret), but I just feel that victimless crimes or crimes that are considered completely SEPARATE OFFENSES from a DUI should have different consequences (consequences all the same, absolutely). But I have attempted to share my frustrations with my family. My father got very angry with me and accused me of passing the buck and not taking responsibilty for my actions. I have browsed other forums but not even dared to post due to the people who type hateful messages towards DUI offenders being common criminals, "scumbags" (actual adjective I saw), and the like. I haven't even discussed the situation with any of my friends, partly because I feel shame about it and also partly because I'm a little bit resentful. All of my friends drink (some much more heavily and often than I) and all of them have at one point or another driven when they really shouldn't have. And while I'm grateful they don't have to deal with the shame, guilt, and consequences of this, I almost find it unfair that I, as one of the people in my circle LEAST likely to get into a situation like this, find myself here.

Alongside the consequences of victimless DUIs or physical control convictions is the sense of being labeled a "criminal." I'm so far from that. I get straight A's, I have a respectable position as a Graduate Assistant. I got one speeding ticket for going 71 in a 65. I'm generally a nice person to be around, I help others when I can, I've volunteered before. I'm no saint, but I'm not a delinquent. And due to this one event, I've gone from being an upstanding citizen to a "scumbag" not fit to be respected as a human being. Next week I'm going to be in an "intervention program" when I don't need alcohol intervention. I'm going to be with people who ARE actual alcoholics, maybe even people that have hurt or killed someone...and I'm in the same exact boat with them. I'm going to be made to feel like I don't deserve to feel abused by the justice system. And I have to go along with all of that because otherwise I'll be marked with poor behavior. All they see is "DUI", not the circumstances and no one honestly cares.

I've felt so much shame and guilt over this. I started seeing a psychologist; my anxiety attacks, insomnia and night terrors were getting so bad while I was waiting on my hearing. Since then that's passed, but now I have to deal with the aftermath. And the guilt isn't gone. But now I also have to deal with the fact that I've stepped back, assessed the situation calmly, and realized that even though I did make a mistake, I WAS also screwed by the system.

Another terrible part too is that even though these laws SHOULD be changed, they never will. Millions of Americans go to bars every single night, and I haven't seen too many cabs pulling up at the end of these nights (except in cases when people are blacked out drunk, and sometimes not even then). The logical thing to do would be to assess DUI convictions on a case by case basis, as well as make physical control conviction consequences DIFFERENT. And to reduce the amount of drunk drivers on the road, pass a law that requires something of the millions of bars in America. Mandatory breathalyzer tests for patrons, a requirement that their car keys be checked at the door. Heck, even instituting a reduced price cab service outside popular watering holes could at least make people think more carefully about getting behind a wheel. But these things will NEVER HAPPEN. What politician or even a normal citizen wants to fight for drunk driving rights? The only people who ever recognize the injustice of these laws are those that have experienced it firsthand, everyone else just thinks we're whiny criminals. And then you've got the MADD people, who are basically just out for revenge and are the reason behind the laws in the first place. Although I sympathize and feel for their pain over losing loved ones due to drinking and driving, being vigilantes against people who committed victimless crimes and forcing them to feel the same shame that an accidental murderer felt is just petty vengeance. But again - speaking out AGAINST the MADD association? You might as well be fighting for ****-fighter or child abuser rights.

If you've gotten this far, thank you so much for listening to my little rant. Again, it has been very hard to go through this all alone. Even my fiancee, as supportive and understanding as he is, can't fully grasp these feelings as he is not at all a drinker and has certainly never been in any situation like this. Reading other testimonies, it is very comforting to know that I am not crazy in my thoughts, and that others here feel the same way. We all seem to know we made mistakes, and not to ever go down that path again. But EVERYONE makes mistakes, that's part of being human, and it doesn't mean that we should be treated with disrespect or abused by the justice system because of it.
reelgirl03 reelgirl03
9 Responses Jul 27, 2011

Please help me,.I was changing my tire that blew on my car (on a Wednesday at 3 in afternoon), three lug nuts in, officer pulls up and asked if I had been drinking,I said no, did field sobriety and passed, breath test, passed..then asked me to submit blood work..I said yes. takes me into station, impound car and five days later in jail. I was charged with ovi and the Day of court..blood work comes back..nano gram over on Thc I had smoked on birthday (stupid decision two weeks before,I get it). Got lawyer, took offer of physical lawyer said was slap on wrist. Since, I get turned down from every job due to back round check coming back as basically dui. I'm so screwed, how long is this going to haunt me?r

Please click the link above.
Read our first post and friend us.
We are an organization of fellow DUI offenders fighting to change the laws and insurance regulation which have rendered us unemployable and are ruining our lives.

And that new name X Civilians addresses us as that, more than just DUI offenders. We now have a term for our situation

I hope you are doing better years later. I was in totally the same situation recently. I never drove. I came out of my friend's condo, my eyes were so dry and my contact fell out. I sat there for awhile and could not get it back in. Before I knew it, the lights were shining and the cops were there. I was safely parked in front of his condo, in a residential community, lights off, car off, keys on the driver seat, car cold. perfectly parked at the curb between two other cars.

The cop asked me what i was doing there and explained that I left my friends birthday party, but that my contact fell out and I did not want to bother him since he had a meeting and it was late. The building has a door man and I knew that my friend would never here is phone ring to let me in. It was 1:15am. THe officer asked if I had been drinking. I told him we had wine earlier at dinner. (dummy me) i incriminated myself, but I honestly did not feel I did anything wrong. I was not driving, never drove, thought i was doing the right thing by not pulling away.

He immediately asked me to step out of the car and when I explained I could not see, and could not perform any tests. he slapped hand cuffs on me. He then told me, that he recommended that I do not take a breathalyzer, because in his exact words " WE Have enough evidence on you already: He never explained the consequences for blowing or not blowing. Which is cause for contesting the refusal, plus he advised me not to. TOTAL grounds for an appeal which I did not win. The Adminstrative license suspension appeal, is a whole other matter I am so angry about, and totally due to my lawyer's incompetence. Too much to explain but totally an unreal situation. I had two grounds for appeal. The officer never explained the consequences for blowing or not blowing and I had no idea my license was even suspended until the next day when I got my paperwork. On the paperwork itself, the officer has to explain very specific instructions, your refusal should be video-taped, and the officer is not to advise you in either way.

There was no video ever produced. The police report was also a complete lie. They said my lights were on, my car was on, the radio was on, which was impossible because it was a speaker was broken. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. I was taken to central booking, had to spend 14 hours in jail, because in my city it was so crowded i was not even in the system until ONE the next afternoon. Friends were trying to bail me out from 7am in the morning. I never had one thing on my record at this point, and I am 40 years old. The entire experience was so draining and total chaos. The prosecutor kept asking for continuances. Which drove up court cost and time off work. Cops were summoned to court, but never showed up. I had three or four pre-trials, where there was no evidence, not even the a police report, since I was pulled over by the HOUSING AUTHORITY friend lived in a high rise condo downtown. My lawyer assured me, that they really don't know how to make traffic stops and that he would fight this THAT Never happened.

All I wanted was a fair trial or (plea agreement). There were so many things in question, like why i was stopped in the first place? to there being no video or Breathalyzer evidence, to me having no record.......The process just wore me down. After months of a total nightmare i just wanted it over.

I know how you feel, as someone who prides themselves in doing the right thing, I feel a bit screwed over by the entire process. I honestly feel if I drove, this would not have happened, even though I would have put myself or someone else in peril.

I should have never gone to the party, in an effort to try not to let people down, I went. I was exhausted before going, totally could not eat the food there, was just mentally drained from just starting a new job and traveling so much.

There are no advocates for this cause. No body wants to put reason back into the laws. I agree with penalties, but a RECKLESS operation, is a third degree misd this is a first degree, it makes no sense? Plus in my state driving convictions are on your record for life. Shoplifting and theft can be removed, which i think is a very intentional and criminal act that an employer would want to know about.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I finally feel like I am getting through this but I am still recovering financially and emotionally. I have beat myself up about it and worry so much about future employment or going on interviews and how to explain it. NO one really knows what this charge is?

Anyway, would love to hear how things have turned out for you?


Keep in mind, this is a bump in your road. My bump is a little taller and thicker since I wrecked two cars as I looked down at my GPS to get home. Be thankful that you did pull over to answer your phone and there was no one that got hurt nor property damage. Yes, this is a financial burden, but you have your health.
It will get better.
Good Luck

Hi. Thank you for posting this--I am going through a very similar situation right now. I, too, am a GTA, and I don't know how I'm going to survuve financially if I am to maintain car insurance. Additionally, I am graduating in May and I don't know if I will be able to find a job with this on mt record. Mine is a federal case, so I don't even have a court date yet--supposedly I will in 4-6 weeks. Anyway, I sincerely hope that things are going well for you now, a year or so later. Sending you love and light~

I agree that breathalyzers should be installed in bars. I'm from new York..a man in Arizona does this for free and charges a dollar to test your limits. I am an educated, successful young adult such as yourself, who was just given my first business card and promotion the night I was arrested and thrown in jail for a DWI a higher charge than yours. I know the shame and lonely feelings you are experiencing all to well. As if the fines and embarrassment of not being able to drive aren't bad enough we have to sit with actual alcoholics or people who have a legitimate issue, and be made to feel like we are the scum of the earth. I commend you for pulling over and doing what you thought was the right thing. They nabbed you, anxiety issues or not they don't care..I have the same disorder and they would not allow me to take my anxiety medication in prison and made me out to be a drug addict when I am actually prescribed it. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Here you are contributing to life and society and u get made to feel like a low life who murdered someone when u PULLED OVER. I hope you have a good lawyer because the fact that you were pulled over and not drivin needs to be discussed and taken into consideration. Keep your head up, of you need to talk I'm here. It might be helpful to the both of us as we are going through the same situation. Xoxo

DUI laws are getting more and more insane these days. I too live in a state that has an "actual physical control policy" ... if you are found in the car on private property sleeping off your partying, with the keys in the car, away from the ignition, its just as good as being caught driving. Not that there shouldn't be a penalty, but the punishment for first time DUI-Driving or DUI-Physical Control (with no accidents and other restitution factors) in my state is possible 600-2100 in fines, possible 0-365 days in municipal/county jail, and in case you are offered probation with a suspended jail sentence, you have to complete dui school and a substance abuse evaluation (which usually nets you in some kind of rehab course), and sometimes they tack on a a defensive driving course for good measure.<br />
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That doesn't include the 90 day dmv suspension, which starts 45 days after the arrest, well before you get to the criminal trial. Tack on SR 22 and lawyer's fees and you can see how expensive this process is thanks to politicians, insurance companies, and groups like MADD.<br />
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Since DUI goes well beyond alcohol, I bet all of us are waiting to one day see when a member of one of these groups gets caught in this trap to a night of partying with their favorite drug of choice. Also, most of these people cannot say they never got behind the wheel, they just never had their number come up in the luck of the draw. The system is designed for failure and robbing you of every penny they can.<br />
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Good luck, I know I need it myself.

Hi Reelgirl,<br />
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DevilsAdvocate and I have chatted and we all three have alot in common and think alike as far as the BS "what if" laws of DUI. You just have to take everything that you have to do for this offense to heart and make it a learning lesson to NEVER let it happen again EVER!!<br />
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You just have to are not a bad are a good person who made a bad decision to get behind the wheel after drinking. I REFUSE to let the state tell me I am criminal, alcoholic or menace...and I challenge any person looking down their nose at my situation to deny they haven't driven drunk at least once in their life....if they say no...they are lying hypocrites!<br />
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In Florida, if you have been drinking, have your keys in your hand or possession and are near your car...they can arrest you for DUI. If you pull over to answer a call and are in your car and intoxicated they can arrest you for DUI because you got there by driving and keys in your hand shows intent and control of a vehicle under the influence. It is completely assinine but so are most of the DUI laws.<br />
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Stay strong and this will be a distant memory but just remember that you can NEVER let this happen again.<br />
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Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing.<br />
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Best Wishes.<br />
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I completely understand your feelings of frustrations, resentment, and that your voice goes unheard now that you're in the system… Thank you for sharing your story, and your opinions - they seem to mirror My own. Your story is sadly all too common these days. All you have to do is read through this website and you'll find a lot of information here. You can read My story under I Have a Dui category, also - I have a lot more of information in My comments there, as I explore the issue with a few others who are also dealing with the consequences of their actions. DUI is actually a common problem these days. Each year, about 1.5 million drivers are arrested for DUI. So you are not alone.<br />
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The fact that this is your 1st DUI should ease your mind. This is not the end of the world, BUT it should serve you as a WAKE UP call. And you MUST never drink and drive again, which I'm sure you already know, you sound like a very intelligent individual from your style of writing. <br />
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Just like you, I've read many legal advice forums, stories and comments in the past, so I am well aware of the hostility and hypocrisy that's out there, also the fact that the government makes laws like DUI to generate revenue can not be ignored. And it's such a shame that more and more educated, social drinkers are becoming labeled as criminals, and treated as such while getting arrested. The stigma that goes with this offense is a heavy burden to carry, especially to the people who always thought of themselves as being respectful, contributing members of society - and now society looks upon them as if they were a delinquent scum & a menace. Oh I know all about this. On the upside you'll get to meet all kinds of interesting characters, i.e., felons, murderers, addicts, problem alcoholics, etc., and you will realize that they all are exactly the same as you are. Just people trying to live their lives as best as they know how to, under the circumstances, and were screwed by the system. The only difference is what will you chose to be from now on...<br />
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Anyone who has read My posts on here knows that I do not believe that drinking and driving should be legal, it shouldn't - the limit ought to be at .00 for all states. BUT I am a STAUNCH critic of the ridiculous DUI laws in regards to punishing victimless offenses, and how the system deals with them in way that do not follow logic. The punishment does not fit the crime. I have My opinions, and I will continue to express them in hopes that someone can learn something from all of this. I know I have. For now, just as you've said "the only people who ever recognize the injustice of these laws are those that have experienced it firsthand, everyone else just thinks we're whiny criminals." Exactly. That is why I wish more educated, intelligent, productive people, who have never had a criminal record, but now do, would take the time to tell their story and voice their opinions. 

Stay strong, and make a point to LEARN as much as you can about the laws and consequences in your area. Take care. :)