A Personal DUI Story: From Black Tie to Black Eye

Alison was an oh-so-cool 20-something when she was arrested for a DUI in the 1980s. While it's painful for her to share her story, she's hopeful it will keep others from drinking and driving today.

In my first post I promised to tell my DUI story. And while I’m tempted to procrastinate—or better yet, forget about the whole thing, as it’s a very bad memory for me—I will make good on my promise and deliver the goods here on Patch. 

My hope is that in sharing my story, it may shed light on how easy it is to drink, become impaired, and then drive without thinking clearly about the consequences. My advice to you is that if you are going to drink, you should assume in advance that you will not be able to drive (even after just one drink) and simply prepare in advance for another way home. How difficult is that? Just don’t drive. Take a cab. Call on a designated driver. Just. Don’t. Drive. That’s how I handled it for years before I gave up drinking altogether.

I was a young and oh-so-cool 20-something PR professional handling a black-tie press event for my boss, Ted Turner, at the Natural History Museum in downtown L.A. the night it happened. I had just flown in from Atlanta, so I was
already three hours (and several cocktails on the plane) ahead of everyone
else. My stomach was empty—how else was I to squeeze into my tight little black dress? But that didn’t stop me from downing a few flutes of champagne as I escorted reporters through an exhibit on Turner’s classic movies.

After the successful event, my best friend-roommate-drinking buddy and I decided we should celebrate my triumph at a nightclub. Both of us had been drinking but somehow we managed to drive our separate cars to the club, where we drank more and danced. When we finally decided we should go home to our apartment in Manhattan Beach, we crawled to our cars, and—because this was the anything-goes 1980s—the valet drivers handed us our keys. 

My roommate made it home without a hitch, but I wasn’t so fortunate. I got lost and drove around for hours until I ended up on Interstate-5 near Downey—which was when I was pulled over for erratic driving.

Yes, I was given a field sobriety test, which I failed. Yes, I was handcuffed and shoved into the back seat of the policeman’s car (and promptly threw up all over it). Yes, I was fingerprinted. Yes, I spent the night in jail. And yes, I it cost me many sleepless nights and about $10,000 in attorney, DUI school and court fees to pay for my terrifyingly irresponsible behavior. Yes, I am thankful today that the cops pulled me over before I hurt someone or myself.  And finally, yes, I did learn my lesson. I never drank and drove after that…and a few years later, I sobered up

So that’s my story. Of course, my experience is more than two decades old, so does anyone with a more recent experience care to share?  

For my next blog, I thought it would be helpful if we heard the latest on the DUI scene from an expert, so I will have a Q&A with Newport Beach attorney Walter Mitchell, whose firm, The Sterling Law Group, specializes in DUI cases. Stay tuned for that next week.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dale January 11, 2013 at 11:42 PM
As an outsider looking in, I find your comments rude and abrasive. This is Alison's blog not yours. If your that hungry for attention, start your own. While your intention may have been good, you rub people the wrong way. Okay? Have I made myself clear?
JustUs January 11, 2013 at 11:49 PM
"This is Alison's blog not yours. If your that hungry for attention, start your own." Dale, who crowned you 'King'? Our comments are welcomed in a society that encouraged citizen engagement and freedom of expression. If you don't like that sort of thing, go elsewhere. Nobody forces you to read even one comment. This is what makes modern technology so wonderful. We are able to comment on specific news items which promotes transparency. It's fantastic, isn't it? If you don't like it. Don't participate and don't read. It's that simple. We all have choices in life. I think you may be angry because I hit a sore spot with the suggestion that we have the cops surveil bars for drunken drivers. You don't have a horse in that race, do you by chance, Dale? Have a wonderful evening, sir. Peace and love! :^)
Alison Hill January 12, 2013 at 12:57 AM
I will be very interested to hear what you all have to say after I post my Q&A next week with Walter Mitchell, the DUI defense attorney. Also, a lot of people I've talked with who have received multiple DUIs have been able to get house arrest as opposed to jail time with the assistance of an attorney. I will see if they are willing to weigh in next week as they can speak from personal experience. I will say I felt more comfortable having an attorney, even though it was my first offense. But then I was super scared and just liked having an expert available to tell me what to expect. He may have just been babysitting me but I needed someone to play that role for me and he was really good at it. I'm sure my attorney has long retired by now as this was in the '80s!
JustUs January 12, 2013 at 04:00 AM
In a nation that prides itself on "equality under the law" if a person is pulled over for a DUI 1st offense and blew higher than a .10 or higher and was drinking alcohol prior to their arrest - why should he or she get leniency just because they have an attorney? Seems pretty cut and dried. I might understand a wobbler like a .08. My friend blew a .14 and thought that an attorney could perform a miracle for him. He was wrong. He got the same punishment as somebody in the same predicament (1st offense) who didn't hire an attorney. So it was pretty much a waste of $5000. Afterwards he was very disappointed. I don't know why. If people can get leniency for hiring an attorney we might as well just merge with Mexico and use their justice system. I prefer not to go that route. I would rather have 'equality under the law', even though, in reality, I understand that's a fantasy and not reality.
Dale January 12, 2013 at 07:51 AM
I don't drink and drive so I have no vested interest. After reading Alison's blog, of course I'm going to read the comments. In my opinion ( which I'm entitled to ) it's obvious you like to push your weight around. Even a few of the commenters before me agree. We all know people like this and to be honest I feel sorry for you. So go ahead and be rude all you want because in your case it's probably to late to change. I like to surround myself with positive happy people. I wont be checking back to read your reply ( and you will reply because you have to have the last word ). Frankly I have no time for people like you in my life. I hope you get help. And if I may, your writing ( or lack of it ) could use help too. Hail to the Queen.
JustUs January 12, 2013 at 08:10 AM
Dale, I think you confuse 'rude' with 'telling the truth'. The truth is never painless, especially for those who resist it. My suggestion is totally logical, reasonable and would be VERY effective in saving lives caused by drunken drivers. I make PERFECT sense. Are you sure you're not a cop, a bar owner, a bartender or someone who enjoys going to bars every so often to down a few? I have no idea why you wouldn't support my suggestion. Aren't all of you in favor of saving lives? Or is that just a lot of nonsense and hype that sounds goods on the surface while you protect bar patrons and owners? Hmmm???? Valid question! :^)
tiny January 12, 2013 at 04:37 PM
JustUs, "Hail to the Queen". You just don't know these days.
JustUs January 12, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Tiny, don't you understand how the crooked lawmakers protect the bar owners? So if some guy gets sloshed (overserved) in a bar, jumps in his car, crashes into a family of 4 and kills them - BY LAW the bar owner and bartender who served him are protected from liability. HAH! Yet if someone handed a friend a gun and he went out and shot another man and killed him, the one who lent him the gun would be an accessory to murder!!! HAH! See the hypocrisy in the laws? You know the reason for that? The politicians get loads of political contributions (legal bribes) from their sugar daddies in the liquor and liquor establishment business. That's why! But there is NO law prohibiting a cop from surveilling a bar exit (plain view) and observing/developing probable cause (a staggering patron) coming from that bar and getting into his car and driving away. This would be enough to stop him and arrest him for DUI, provided he flunked all the relevant tests. Why would anyone pooh-pooh my idea if it would save the lives of innocent people on the roadway. Only evil people would object to my suggestion that would take drunk drivers off the roads and save innocent people from untimely deaths. Yet look at the people above who attack and chastise me for making such a suggestion! THINK, Tiny! THINK!
tiny January 12, 2013 at 05:21 PM
I'll keeping my "powder dry" for other issues. But you go ad it.
tiny January 12, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Ok, I'll give it a go and put it in a larger context. What you say may have validity. We're now going into the info age, (from consumers to informers), and as the economy is getting worse for most people, those people are doing more drups/alchohol/etc. And it's in the interest of the powers that be to have dirt on as many people as possible so that if someone steps up to challenge the status quo, this info can be brought into play.
JustUs January 12, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Tiny, my comment above should prove to you that the lawmakers and the enforcers put a HIGHER value on CONSUMERISM than on human lives by protecting the bar owners and bartenders who overserve from punishment when one of their drunken patrons gets behind the wheel and takes out a family of 4. If you hate CONSUMERISM you should be a soldier in my cause!
tiny January 12, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Without Glass-Steagall to start with, your wasting your time.
JustUs January 12, 2013 at 09:22 PM
HAH! What does Glass-Stegall have to do with DUI enforcement and sting operations on bars? Let's keep these subjects separate, ok? I agree that Glass-Steagall should be reinstated. But using the dismissal of Glass-Stegall as an excuse not to target bar patrons who drive drunk and kill innocent people on our roadways is a big fat dodge and uncalled for. That's like me saying that we should not prosecute murder suspects because Jon Corzine was protected by the Obama adminstration and never prosecuted for his shennanigans at MF Global! HAH!
tiny January 12, 2013 at 11:50 PM
Well go at it then. And have fun.
ROBERT E. FISHBACK January 13, 2013 at 09:11 PM
I am probably an alcoholic..have been drinking since 1955..started when I was sixteen. One strange thing, though, when I reach my comfort level, I stop. Never had a DUI, but came oh so close. This is actually funny. It was in the 70's and I had been drinking at home. I took a beer with me and went cruising. beer in hand. I got into a three car drag race and cop came up behind me and turned on his flashers. I pulled over and then he went after the other two in front and pulled them over. Then another cruiser pulled up behind me. I had thrown my beer out..an over the roof job. The cops came down the line, taking licenses and putting each driver in cop car for breathalyzer. When he came to me, he asked me to sign tickets as a WITNESS. OH WOW..that was close.
ROBERT E. FISHBACK January 13, 2013 at 09:34 PM
I have to share this also...After my wife died from cancer, I did get drunk a little...We lived in an apartment and I had friends over for support and we did drink. After they left, I drove up to a bar and had a few more. When I left, I banged into a parked car. Quite abit of damage to my\ car but none to his truck. I left. Security followed me out but never turned on flashers. I parked my car and saw security stopped. I went up to talk to him and said I had hit a truck, but there was no damage. Then, a cop drove in and stopped me...I was walking to my home. Black female officer. She got out of car and cuffed me and put me in back seat. No breathalyzer...I guess I was pretty lit as I wanted to get on her good side and began singing some Dooby Brothers for her. "Jesus..he is my friend,,Jeeesahs he my friend.." Anyway, I was in a cell later and found that each cell had a microphone that blared out in the ..what shall I say..the checking in room..booking room. whatever. I wanted all concerned to hear my Doobie Bros and let them enjoy it too> Soo, I began wail "Jesus, He's my Friend...Jeeeezahs..He my friend, took me by the hand."...I was taken upstairs, stripped naked and put into an icy cell. where I spent the next 24 hrs. My singing worked against me..b
tiny January 13, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Drinking for 57 years and never in trouble. You're a good egg. My uncle from Texas has been drinking for about the same amount of years and never in trouble also. It's a small town and he supplies many of the guns to the park ranger people and others.
ROBERT E. FISHBACK January 13, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Hey, Tiny..Humm, Now I suspect why he never got in any trouble
Lady Golfnut January 13, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Robert you are definetly lucky to have escaped any DUI's or other consequences! Better knock on wood quick! I have to add that when I was a teenager in the 70's my friends and I would "pimp" beer at the local liquor store and go to parties or cruise E street in San Bernadino. It was the happening spot :/ Anyway there were those few occasions when we were approached by the police - usually parked - and they would have us dump out our beer and then tell us to "be careful" out there. Yeah different times but lesson learned.
JustUs January 13, 2013 at 09:56 PM
There's lots of good free help out there for people who have a drinking problem and are tired of living that way. Some aren't and that's fine too. I am a big believer in free choice. Every man should have the right to march to the beat of his own drummer - as long as he doesn't hurt others in the process. But there are good, good, decent people willing to help if one ever finds himself at the point where he feels he needs it. And it's only a phone call away.
ROBERT E. FISHBACK January 13, 2013 at 11:20 PM
Lady Golf Nut: Now you are talking turkey..Memories...Did you ever drink a beer at that Drive in Theatre with Palms at the front..Cant recall its name...Rubideaux??? I had a 40 Chevy and used the wheel well in trunk as an ice chest. Remember our parties? Parents uhh, away for night...lots of kids..some suds, but the music..oh, how I wish for those days . House full of cute chicks and lots of boys..all circling around to ..catch one..Some making out on couches...One time, I went to a party un-invited,,,did not matter...though the boys looked tough..yet we were one...unless you messed with their chick..soo..I was just sitting there feeling so bashful..and this very cute girl (she may have had some beer) came over and sat down on my lap. I was scared to death, so I said "I am a man eating plant" and I wrapped my arms around her, She laughed and said "You and I need to dance" WOW, i was afraid and did not know how. Things got fuzzy after that...I was dancing with her...lots of clouds with colors..she placed her head on my shoulder and we danced to..."THE STROLL" So soft and warm...so understanding..."Come lets stroll, stroll across the floor" I asked her name and where I could find her again. The next morning, I woke up wondering if I had dreamed all of this...My answer came from finding a name on a piece of paper in my wallet...."Kerr on Clump" (San Fernando Valley) Never could find her...NO REGRETS b
Panglonymous January 13, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Only 32 different words in that song. That's economy. :-)
Lady Golfnut January 13, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Robert if you mean the Van Buren drive in, I would say Yes! That's a great memory you posted above. What would we be without them? Good, bad or otherwise! Peace!
ROBERT E. FISHBACK January 14, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Lady GOLF NUT..You are no Nut in any sense of the word...Patch is the antithesis of every thing I am about...I believe that the 1950's was the ultimate time of life from the teen agers experience. I find no pleasure in the topics of the Patch...I do not recognize the name Van Buren,,,,but then, I do not recognize mush else either...I am getting Lake Forest Patch now..what a beautiful name for a town..good people there..in fact, I dont think anyone ever got pregnant in Lake Forest...They are just too decent for that. If you are a child of the fifites...google THE STROLL...thats an order..the b
ROBERT E. FISHBACK January 14, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Aiison: You are very cute...and..you show some freckles which go with red hair. Also, you do have a temper and have a tendency for being self willed. On the more practical side,you missed by one L in having the same name as the ALLISON V-12 which was a wonderful engine that powered world war two fighter planes. I am 74, and therfore your senior. I want you to google the song "THE STROLL" and see what you missed....
Lady Golfnut January 14, 2013 at 02:51 AM
Robert: just finished watching The Stroll. Awesome! Just a bit before my time but I can totally appreciate! I'm a child of the sixties. Nonetheless, I totally enjoyed it. As to Van burden, well Rubidoux is in the same vicinity so I think we're on th same page! Wow thanks for the memories! I grew up in Corona and have lived in South County since I married in 1981!
ROBERT E. FISHBACK January 14, 2013 at 04:50 AM
Lady..you are rapidly becoming the only person I might enjoy talking to....The 60's were a real transitional period in our history and the tumult produced some real never heard before music....It may be abit early, but could we become pen pals via e-mail?. I would like to send you tons of music from the 60's....If not, I understand...fishbackrobert@gmail.com Patch sucks..Bob
jeancheryl801 January 21, 2013 at 07:37 PM
upto I looked at the bank draft that said $9835, I accept that...my... cousin had been realy erning money parttime from there pretty old laptop.. there sisters neighbour haz done this for less than seventeen months and just now paid for the morgage on there appartment and bought themselves a Renault 4. I went here,======>>> bit90.comchk this out <<<========
Vision PR CSUF March 18, 2013 at 07:37 AM
DUI's suck! My brother who is 26 just got a DUI three weeks ago and is scared to death of what is to come of him. But instead of doing the breathalizer, he hoped that the blood alcohol test would serve him justice. $2,000+ after getting his truck out of impound, paying for the blood test, and paying for the lawyer we hope that things turn out ok. I hope that this incident was a reality check for him like it was for you... #CSUF
ROBERT E. FISHBACK March 18, 2013 at 05:16 PM
I have not read all of this...it sure got allot of response. It is wise to insist on blood alcohol over breath alcohol. There can be a vast difference. I have wondered what would happen if a person pulled over waited until the policeman got right beside the door and then the driver holds a half pint up and drinks most of it right in front of the officer. He could be charged with open container, but how could it be proved he was driving while intoxicated. The driver would need to throw keys out window before he did this. In court, it could not be proven he was intoxicated while driving.


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