Drivers who are arrested for driving under the influence in Spokane and other Washington communities understand what Michael Phelps meant when he told Sports Illustrated that he was in “a really dark place” after his 2014 DUI arrest. For many people, an arrest for driving under the influence is the only time they become involved in the criminal justice system. Apart from the legal consequences of a DUI, an arrest often impairs self-esteem, creates social stigma, and leads to a deep sense of shame and embarrassment.
Phelps is used to facing challenges. He has won more gold medals than any other Olympic competitor. Yet nothing in his life prepared him for the challenge of facing a DUI prosecution. He felt that he let down his fans, his friends, his family, and his foundation.
Overcoming DUI Despair
Disappointment and despair are common reactions to an arrest for driving under the influence. Defense attorneys who assist individuals after a DUI arrest understand how traumatic the experience can be. The good news, as Michael Phelps’ story illustrates, is that it is never too late to turn a life around. Phelps went through some bad times, but after renewing his commitment to his training regime and to sobriety, he has a chance at the 2016 Olympics to become the oldest swimmer ever to win a gold medal — and he is favored to win at least three.
Phelps entered an alcohol abuse treatment program voluntarily. That is often a good option for people who are facing a DUI charge. While the first line of defense is to avoid a conviction, taking steps to minimize the consequences of a potential conviction is an essential backup plan. Judges respect people who recognize that they have a problem and who do something about it. That respect often translates into more reasonable penalties if a DUI defendant is eventually convicted.
Treatment allowed Phelps to work through problems that had been building in his life for years. He also credits sobriety for his leaner physique, for his ability to sleep soundly, and for the clear head that allows him to focus on his goals.
Making the Right Choice
Not everyone who is arrested for DUI has a drinking problem. Some people drink an extra beer and do not realize that they are over the limit. Any driver who has more than one “standard” drink per hour is at risk of exceeding a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), even if they are not drunk.
In many cases, it makes sense to contest the DUI accusation. A variety of defenses can be raised that might save driving privileges and avoid the sanctions that accompany a DUI conviction. That is a choice you should make in consultation with your Washington DUI defense attorney.
Phelps, who had a 0.14% BAC and crossed two double-yellow lines while traveling at speeds in excess of 80 mph, acknowledged that he had a problem. Any driver in that situation should do what Phelps did — get help. And realize that with the support of friends, family, and a good DUI defense lawyer, it is possible to overcome the challenge of a DUI arrest.
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