I had gotten divorced from my first wife in January of 1990 and had been on a cocaine and alcohol binge every since. One night, after getting sufficiently sloshed on giant beers at a local bar, by about 1 a.m., I started feeling sorry for myself and decided to head home. I was flying up the Dallas North Tollway at about 75 mph. I was about one quarter of a mile from the house when I passed a state trooper. I knew immediately he had me, and sure enough the lights came on. He pulled me over within walking distance from my house. After the roadside test, he told me I was being arrested on suspicion of DWI and slapped the cuffs on me. He was a nice, older guy who even pulled over to loosen my cuffs when I told him they were cutting into my wrists. We carried on a pleasant conversation the entire trip to the Lew Sterrett jail, which is the main jail and holding facility for the city of Dallas. I asked him if he would take me back to my car when I blew under .10 (the legal limit in 1990). He laughed and said that he did not think that was going to be the case but promised if I was not booked they would get me back. He was right. I blew a .11 on the Breathalyzer. I failed to follow the legal advice I gave time and time again. Don’t blow. But like any drunk, I had convinced myself I was not drunk.
I thought being handcuffed on the side of a public highway was humiliating. It was nothing compared to the assembly line booking process. A long row of fingerprinting and abuse from the local deputy sheriff’s handling the process. Rightfully so. I had earned the abuse. It was open season. One of the deputy sheriffs leaned across the table, placed his face inches from my nose, and starting yelling for all to hear:
“YOU’RE A STINKING LAWYER? ONE THING IS FOR SURE. YOU DO STINK! YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO THE LEGAL PROFESSION! I HOPE THEY KICK YOU OUT!”
I agreed with him. I did not say a word. I believed that I fully deserved the abuse, and it was part of my punishment. It was no fun at all. I was put in a large holding cell that smelled of puke, urine and the stench of the non-showered. Alcoholics and drug addicts ruled the roost. Men younger than myself crying uncontrollably in shame and uncertainly of their future. They were beneath me. I was a lawyer! They were me. I was them. After twelve hours sitting on a urine stained concrete floor, I made bail and was released. I went home ashamed. My first call was to my father. I cried uncontrollably in shame and fear of the unknown consequences to come. My life was over. I vowed to him and myself that “I would never drink again” A statement I would become very familiar with as other young men came in and out of twelves step years later when I would finally begin recovery. I stayed sober for two weeks after getting out of jail. I was “cured”.
It should have been a learning experience. It was not. Like many addicts who are humiliated, repentant, and swear off drinking, drugs, or whatever else in the immediate aftermath, the further the event was removed in time, the more the humiliation subsided and the easier it was to tell myself it would never happen again and move right back into my old ways.
Perhaps it didn’t help that I ended up beating the rap. I pled not guilty. I chose to try the case, and I was lucky. The state trooper did not show up for trial, so they had to dismiss the charges. I heard through the grapevine that he had retired and did not feel like dealing with it. I remember my attorney handing me the dismissal. When I thanked him, he said to thank the district attorney for dismissing the case. I had no idea he was being tongue-in-cheek. I stuck my head in the office next to the courtroom and said, “Thank you.” They were not amused. The look in their eye told me I should have humbly stayed quiet. I high-tailed it out of the courthouse before they changed their minds. No thought about how I had gotten to that point. No thought of being in desperate need of help for an alcohol and drug problem. Just relief that I had dodged a bullet. . No hard consequences other than the few grand I gave my lawyer and getting my car out of impoundment. I got drunk and snorted cocaine to celebrate The life of an addict.