Yippie! I’m going TO JAIL

The underage student worked diligently to keep his calm, yet the situation he found himself in begged otherwise. Behind him, officers investigated another friend’s vehicle and its passengers for any hint of alcohol consumption. Perched in his own car was another fellow student who, without a doubt, was blitzed to an epic degree.

At 20-years-old, the driver, who has requested to be referred to as Michael, was the designated driver in the sense that he was not drunk or even buzzed. Twenty minutes earlier, Michael had casually consumed a couple drinks and was nowhere near a drunken nuisance. But the fact remained; he was still underage. Michael’s honesty never slipped his mind, and he replied truthfully to all the arresting officer’s inquiries on that night’s events.

The pin test was no sweat, Michael took the walking test like a pro and the alphabet came to him like a Kindergarten show-off. The interrogating officer’s partner, though, nudged the suspect on multiple occasions as if tempting some unreasonable outburst. But all this was disregarded with five glorious words.

“You’ve passed all your tests.”

Yet all good things come to an end. Despite being respectful, Michael was still granted a slim document branded “DUI” (driving under the influence). It was not vengeance on the officer’s part but simply part of the law. A patrol officer at the Huntsville Police Department clarified that this is just common procedure.

“A DUI is any detectable amount of alcohol in their system,” explained HPD officer Blake Galle. “All we have to do is be able to smell it on their breath and it’s a DUI.”

Galle, who was not affiliated with Michael’s situation, compared a DUI to receiving a regular traffic citation. A DWI (driving while intoxicated), on the other hand, marks a more serious stain on its victim’s record. While a jail’s confinement may only scar an individual for few days, the ghosts of a DWI will haunt an offender’s record for the rest of his or her life.

Michael’s actions and integrity saved him from the full consequences of a DUI.

“The judge was lenient because I told him I was working three jobs at the time, and I was a full-time student,” Michael acknowledged. “He said that he thought it was just a mistake and let me off easy.”

Michael’s financial condition would only be mauled by a $402 price tag; a combination of the fine plus court costs. The student would spend a six-month probation sentence atoning for his mistake. During that period, if he were to fall victim to a M.I.P (minor in position), P.I. (public intoxication) or any other illegal act related to drinking, his DUI would be reinstated on his record permanently. Michael’s eight hours of community service were spent picking up trash around the community. His license was history, at least for 60 days, and he completed his driving course as requested in the judge’s demands. To all of this, Michael expresses his opinion swiftly.

“At least it’s off my record.”

His DUI was only a Class C Misdemeanor: an offense punishable by a fine of up to $500. DWI offenders receive a Class B Misdemeanor with a fine not to exceed $2000. With it is an automatic jail sentence not to surpass 180 days.

“There’s an enhancement to it if there’s a child in the vehicle with you too,” described Officer Galle. “There’s also an enhancement if there is an open container in the vehicle.”

Galle and his fellow officers undoubtedly signature their share of tickets on Thursday and Saturday when students, according to Galle, fail to “use judgment.” He looks for slurred speech, glossy eyes and failure to accomplish multiple tasks at one time. When asked for a license and proof of insurance, intoxicated drivers continuously hand the officer one requested item and forget about the other.

As for Michael, his six months are cleared without a hint on his record of any illegal affair. He still parties but will not be found behind the wheel with any hint of alcohol in his bloodstream. His experience, according to Michael, has changed his life by far.

“Seeing how much trouble I got in over two beers, I don’t want that kind of thing on my record,” said Michael. “If I do, I’m screwed for life.”

Leave a Reply