Saturday, November 10, 2012

Arrested IV: Alcohol Highway Safety School

Saturday November 3, 2012.  Cold, windy, cloudy.  A perfect day to stay inside. 

Not that I had a choice.

That weekend would be spent indoors.  From 9 til 4, I'd be sitting in a building outside West Chester, PA, in a classroom with 29 others in the same trouble as me.  Or worse.

It was time for my court mandated Alcohol Highway Safety School.

AHSS is a two day class for those who have been pulled over for DUI.  In their words:

"The objectives of the AHSS are to provide students with a basic knowledge and understanding of alcohol and controlled substances and their effects on metabolism and judgment, alcoholism and drug addiction, as well as highway safety, to encourage a positive change in student’s attitude concerning driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance." (see link above for reference.)


So there we all were.  23 men, 7 women.  Only one person a known TG (me).  Not that they knew, as I was in drab.  Sitting in a room on a Saturday morning wishing we were anywhere else.  Six of these people were on their second offense, and two wore their House Arrest ankle bracelets.

The instructor was a parole officer and she understood how we felt.  So she did her best to keep us engaged in the class.  I'll call her "P."

We did a couple group exercises, the had a "victim panel" come in and speak.  In this case, it was a mother, father, and sister of a drunk driving victim.  Rather then recount their truly horrible tale, I'll refer you to their website.  Yes, website.

http://www.trooperiwaniec.org/Welcome.html

The father spoke first, then the sister, then the mother.  You could see it in the parents' eyes- they were broken people.  Absolutely shattered.  So sad.

At the end of their talk, P went to the front of the silent class to get some feedback, or so it seemed.  Nope- stalling tactic, and a brilliant one at that.  While she did that, the family of the victim walked to the back of the room to stand by the only door.  Then P dismissed us for lunch.  And to leave, we couldn't help but see that family by the door.  I expressed my condolences to them.  Inadequately. 

But what could I say? 

We had homework that night.  It was going to be tough, as I was going to Laptop that night.  Directly after class, I drove up to Amanda Richards' studio and once again put on my Halloween finery.  I went to Laptop Lounge (where I briefly worked the door) and had a good time.  My "Big sister" was there, as were many others including some people I didn't know.  I had fun, but left early.  After all, I had class the next day.


Class?  Not here!


As it stood, I got only about six hours sleep.

The next day, P checked our homework.  If we didn't do it she said there would be "dire consequences."  We all had it finished.  I did mine while waiting for Amanda to finish working on Antoinette who was ahead of me.

The first part was "who, aside from you, is affected by your DUI."  For me it was my wife, both my jobs, my friends (one in particular), and my daughter.  Mostly for the time and money this whole thing is taking up.

The second worksheet was calculating how much this whole thing is costing me.  My estimate was $4,104.50.  And that's with getting a good deal from my lawyer!  Then was the last two boxes on that sheet; "Number of Drinks" and "Cost per drink." 

For me, my cost for each of my seven drinks that night came to $586.36.  Each.

NO, repeat NO drink was worth $586.36. 

The person with the highest number was over $30K.  He was arrested twice in a week in two different counties.  His first stop was after sideswiping five cars, running through a chain link fence and hitting a house.  He doesn't remember any of this.  A few days, later he was pulled over again after some drinks at a bar.  Am i the only one who thinks this kid MAY have a problem?

We then went around the room and discussed How we were stopped.  I was in the middle of the pack on this.  Thirty people, thirty different stories.  I felt bad for only one of the people, "G."  He had been out for his 40th the night before with his friends.  There was a designated driver, and G got Ripped.  They took him home, dropped him off safe and sound, and he went to bed.  Next morning, his wife asked him to go to Wawa for a couple things.  he went to his car, and his young daughter jumped in for the ride.  he was stopped for not coming to a complete stop at a Stop sign.  They did a Breathalyzer, and then arrested him in front of his daughter.  0.08 is the legal limit.  He was .082.  From the night before!  And as his daughter was in the car, he isn't eligible for ARD.  So he gets a year suspension, etc.  The whole thing.  Ouch.

There was also a sixteen year old who was stopped for driving while stoned on pot.  I got the vibe that this kid was an FtoM. 

After that, we had a demonstration using special glasses of what impairment looks like and also watched a video. 

Soon it was over, and I went to work for my Sunday night shift.

Did I learn anything?

Yes, lots.  Some I already knew, like coffee doesn't sober you up- it makes you a wired drunk.  Only time sobers you.  Also that at ANY given time, 1 in 6 people on the road are drunk.  On a given weekend night, that's 1 in 3.  Think of that next time you're out.

Ok, Soapbox time, folks.

Why am I telling you all of this? 

I'll be blunt.

This entire process sucks MAJOR league donkey dick.  Big style. 

I'm pissing away $4,000 and for what?  NOTHING.  Zero.  That's a LOT of money.  And thank God I hadn't hurt anyone- I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I had.

If I get caught again, it's 60-90 days in jail, $15,000 fine, loss of license for two years, and a breathalyzer installer in my car, which costs $1,700 to install.  $15K is more than the best breast implants.  And I want those far more than I want a drink!

I'm taking my punishment.  I did what I am accused of many times, and was caught.  It was just a matter of time.  The average drunk driver has driven drunk 380 times before their first arrest.  Sounds about right.

I was lucky.  A drunk driving death occurs approximately every ten minutes in the US.  I never crashed.  No one was ever hurt.

Here's my point- We in the trans community are Serious drinkers.  At every conference I attend, the bar is where all the action is, and that isn't because we all love pub food.  Alcohol masks pain, and we are Creatures of Pain.  We live with it most of our lives, until (and often after) we transition as well. 

And sometimes we pay the price.  I have.  Can you imagine if one of us (non full time) is caught while en femme?  Especially in a place where we aren't exactly tolerated?  Which is most places.  Consequences.

I'm writing this so you can Learn from MY pain. 

I'm living it, and as I said, it SUCKS.  Learn from my mistake.  It's a simple matter of a conjunction.  Remember conjunctions?  And, But, Or? 

Instead of Drinking AND driving, make it Drinking OR Driving.  That simple.  One or the other.  Never the twain shall meet.

That way, you don't suffer.  And no one gets hurt.

I'm NOT saying don't drink.  Far from it.  Enjoy!  Just don't drive.  I'll be at the bar at the Keystone Conference, making an ass of myself as always, because I won't be driving. 

*Gets off soapbox*

So now I'm finished AHSS.  And I'm finished 5 of the mandatory 8 Alcohol classes.  And on November 27, I'll hand in my license for thirty days.

On December 28, this will all be behind me.  As will be Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

All good! 



 

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