A DWI Can Cause Worry, Shame – and Serious Depression. Here’s What to Do.
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. But 22 Olympic medals didn’t prevent depression, shame, and sorrow from reportedly overtaking Phelps following his 2014 drunk driving arrest.
Phelps was “in a really dark place” and experienced feelings of “not wanting to be alive anymore” after he failed two sobriety tests was charged in Baltimore with drunk driving, speeding, and crossing double lines. A Breathalyzer test registered his blood alcohol concentration at 0.14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit in Maryland and most other states, including Minnesota. Phelps entered rehab shortly after.
Mental health experts have long thought that depression and heavy drinking are tied together, as self medicating with alcohol can be a way of soothing pain, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Depression can set in after a DWI arrest or feel even stronger than it did before. Why? A driving while intoxicated arrest is stressful, frightening, embarrassing, and financially trying. People often feel hopeless.
The Most Important Step is the First
There is hope, but don’t wait. Avoiding taking action could make your depression worse. Take the first step of hiring an experienced Minnesota DWI attorney who is compassionate, understanding, and determined to fight for your rights until we reach the best outcome possible. We’ve represented more than 10,000 DWI cases across the state.
The Minneapolis DWI law firm of Gerald Miller, P.A. is on your side. We’ve received hundreds of client reviews thanking us for our professionalism and success rate – but also for our kindness. Schedule a free case evaluation today by calling 612-430-6743 or filling out a contact form here. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to listen and give you the legal guidance you need to move forward, which may ease your depression.
The Aftermath of a DWI Arrest – And How to Deal
A DWI, especially a first time offense, can bring with it a wave of shock, anger, and sadness. Many clients feel ashamed about it and spend hours thinking about how they could have avoided it. They worry about what people will think, how much it’s going to cost, and whether they will go to jail. Many also worry about the DWI’s effect on their employment or future job prospects.
The truth is, a DWI doesn’t make you a loser, or an irresponsible person. Nor does it make you an alcoholic (although if you suspect you have a problem, or if you’ve had multiple Minnesota DWI offenses, you should seek professional help immediately). Depression is real. We understand that.
Tips to Ease DWI-Related Sadness and Fear
Representing Minnesota DWI clients for 40 years has given our attorneys a unique perspective and understanding of what our clients go through during the court process. We’ve heard all of the emotions they experience, and offer support on how to get through it.
- Recognize that you made a mistake – and let it go. Instead of rehashing what happened, focus on what can be done with your attorney to make it better. Yes, it’s humiliating. But it happened. An experienced DWI attorney can help you achieve a positive outcome and move on with your life as soon as possible. A lawyer by your side helps put you in control, which may help ease your depression. It puts you in an empowered state, and that mindset will help you stay strong until the end. Your attorney will help you build a defense and fight for your rights. You are never alone.
- Consider telling close friends, family, and your boss. You may be surprised at the kindness and support you receive. That alone can lift DWI–related depression. What’s more, you will likely discover that more people than you know of have a DWI on their record. People you look up to, admire, and respect. Look at it this way: Former President George W. Bush was arrested for drunk driving in 1976. Did it affect his ability to lead our country? No. You should tell your employer because he or she could find out through public record. What’s more, if you drive for a living and lose your driving privileges for a year, your employment certainly will be affected. But again, being up front is better than keeping a secret in shame and hoping for the best.
- Take action. We’ve touched on this before, but it’s worth repeating: Before you let worry and depression consume you, reach out to a DWI attorney for legal advice. It may not be as bad as you think. The unknown is worse than knowing. Taking immediate action could help limit the emotional and social consequences of a DWI arrest. Plus, you will feel better knowing you have a great lawyer on your side who understands, doesn’t judge, and has your best interests at heart.
- Be grateful and think positive. You got a DWI. You didn’t hurt anyone, thankfully. You are ashamed, but not physically hurt. And if you think you have a drinking problem, maybe the arrest was the wake-up call you needed. That means one day you just might be glad it happened.
Bottom line? This too shall pass, as the saying goes. And we can help make it go smoother and faster than you might expect.
First-Time DWI Punishments
They say knowledge is power. Here’s what you are facing with a first-offense Minnesota DWI. Keep in mind, every case is different. And, based on your test result, or some other factors, a first time offense can even be charged as a gross misdemeanor or higher. And the punishments listed below could be much different. We can dive into your specific details to make sure we understand the possible outcomes of your case.
Possible Criminal Penalties
A 4th degree DWI is a misdemeanor offense in Minnesota, which is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1000 fine.
Possible Civil Penalties – Will I lose my driver’s license?
Generally, for a first time offense, a revocation of 90 days to one year is likely. However, some clients may participate in the ignition interlock program if eligible. A first-time offender with a test result of less than 0.16 may also be eligible for a work permit 15 days after the revocation time period commences. If the test result is a 0.16 or greater BAC, an ignition interlock will be required for a minimum of one year (if you choose to drive). And as part of the process to get back to driving, the offender must also pass an alcohol and controlled substance knowledge test, apply for a new Minnesota driver’s license and pay a reinstatement fee.
Life Will Go On
No matter what, your life will move forward – hopefully in an even more positive way. Look at Michael Phelps. He pleaded guilty to drunk-driving and was given one-year suspended sentence and 18 months of supervised probation, but avoided jail time. He was publicly shamed, embarrassed, and felt major depression. But he saw it as a learning experience that brought as much good as it did bad.
“The last three months of my life have been some of the hardest times I’ve ever gone through,” Phelps said after his hearing. “Some of the biggest learning experiences that I’ve ever had, finding out a lot about myself. For this day, I’m happy to be moving forward, and I’ll continue to grow from this.”
You will too. Let’s talk.
About Gerald Miller, P.A.
Were you or someone you love arrested for DWI or BWI? The process can be worrisome – or even frightening. There are a lot of unknowns and legal jargon to weave through. You’re not alone. We can help, whether it’s your first DWI or if you’ve been convicted in the past.
If you are facing a conviction, the experienced Minnesota DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller, P.A. will look at your case and determine the best course of action. We will guide you through the process, working toward a positive outcome no matter the circumstances of the arrest. Our firm has a high success rate, and we’ve fought cases all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Your case is not open-and-shut. You should fight. We look at every aspect of the case, from the time of the arrest the officer’s actions to the accuracy of your Breathalyzer test.
What makes Gerald Miller different from other Minnesota criminal defense lawyers?
The Minneapolis lawyers at Gerald Miller handle all aspects of criminal law across the Twin Cities and statewide, but we have focused on DWIs for nearly 40 years. A DWI affects your driving ability, your finances and your professional reputation. Don’t let one mistake affect your future.
We have earned dozens of positive Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews from satisfied clients. We are widely recognized throughout the Twin Cities for our professionalism, compassion, success rate, knowledge, and dedication both in and out of the courtroom. The Minneapolis DWI attorneys at Gerald Miller DWI Law Firm are respected by our peers, colleagues, judges, and prosecutors. We have earned national awards and accolades from the American Bar Association, The National Trial Lawyers, the American Institute of DWI/DUI Attorneys, the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the National Academy for DUI Defense, and more.
Gerald Miller, P.A. also has earned the elite “SuperLawyer” distinction by Thomson Reuters.
Legal Counsel is Critical to Success
The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start protecting your rights. Even if a case cannot be dismissed, your charges may be reduced, which is a positive outcome no matter how you look at it. The details of the case and situation matter, including whether you have a prior history of DWI, your test result this time, was there an accident, etc. It also helps if you were cooperative at the time of your arrest and if you followed the instructions of the court prior to your hearing, including completing an alcohol assessment and/or DWI classes.
Contact us today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation at 612-440-4610. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to give you some answers, a little hope, and plenty of well-deserved peace of mind. We can also be reached on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.