Don't Drink And Drive

On October 21, 2011, I will be going to jail.

I do not yet know how long. It could be anywhere from 62.5 days (the minimum sentence) up to 10 years in prison (the maximum sentence). My lawyer has essentially prepared me for 1 year, saying he would be surprised if it was anything less. It could even be prison, which scares me quite a bit. Jail is bad enough, I don't know how I'd survive prison.

Honestly, it seems a bit strange to think of myself ever going to jail. As a generally law-abiding citizen who prefers to avoid confrontation with the legal system, I have had a difficult time grappling with this. It was never my intention to hurt anyone, and it amazes me how a stupid choice could so greatly derail so many lives. Two victims were physically injured, both quite seriously. It is possible that one of them may never fully recover from his injuries, although I do not know what his condition is, even six months later. I can only hope he recovers. Whatever else happens, knowing I hurt these two individuals is far more punishment than jail or financial restitution will ever be. I have yet to sleep a night without needing some sort of diversion from my own mind, usually watching TV or a movie is enough. Jail will be harder since these distractions will not be so easily obtained. I try to escape into my own mind, but the weight of my actions has a stranglehold there.

Still, I wouldn't be truthful if I didn't admit I am terrified of the prospect of going to jail. The confinement I can deal with -- it's the people that I'll encounter that scare me. I was in jail for just over 36 hours in March before my family bailed me out, and in that 36 hours, I saw an entire community of people who had seemingly given up on life. The guards enact the role of a common thug, which makes sense given the anarchy that pretty much rules inside. There is a social order, and I'm afraid I will be at the low rung of that ladder. I've never once been in a physical confrontation with another person, and from what I've read, it will be a common occurrence in jail as people vie for dominance among the population.

I don't have the fortitude or presence of self to really combat with these types of individuals, so I may be taking a purely observational position. This is how I hope to survive, watching this inner world work and trying to make sense of it. Worse still is that my punishment will continue for the rest of my life, fitting for the crime as I've potentially ruined the lives of at least two individuals. Who knows how many indirectly affected, not least of which is my family and friends who have stuck by me in spite of this. Sometimes I wonder why, but I think they know it was an accident. No malice or ill-intent was meant, I am not a mean-spirited person.

To those I have hurt, I can only offer my deepest apologies. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish things had ended differently, that I had made better choices, that I could turn back time and undo what has happened. I can only imagine what sort of indirect damage I have caused to these victims and their loved ones. What of their families? Did they have children? Pets? Jobs that they no longer have because of long stints at the hospital? How is anyone supposed to truly repay those wronged of such wrongdoing?

I have no answers. I can only hope they will forgive me for my transgressions at some distant point in the future. When I used to see commercials on TV about drunk drivers injuring others, I would say, "What fools they must have been, putting others at risk like that." And now I'm one of those fools. I hope those who read this know that driving drunk is a very easy thing to do, because the drunk mind can convince itself of sobriety. Please be careful if you drink, and make sure you have a means for travelling safely. Hurting yourself is nothing compared to the pain you will experience knowing you've hurt others.

-- UPDATED - Feb. 12, 2018 --

I had forgotten about this. So to update:

I ended up spending 45 months (just under 4 years). I was officially sentenced to 2 concurrent 0-5 years. In Utah, this means the parole board determines the sentence based on a matrix of guidelines. However, since my crime was a people crime (affecting people directly), it was considered aggravated. Hearing 4 years was a bit of a shock given my expectation for some leniency given it was my first offense. But upon retrospect, I can understand the parole board's determination. I had severely harmed people and their families. I expect they might feel my sentence at 4 years was lenient itself.

Utah does not really do "time for good behavior" but you can request a redetermination of parole once a year. After completing the Beaver Residential Treatment program and around 2 years of time, my case worker requested a redetermination and I received parole 3 months earlier.

So on July 20th, 2015, I was released from prison. On Oct. 2016, I completed parole.


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