Dealing with the aftereffects of a DUI is never easy. It’s especially difficult, however, when you’re living on the economic edge: if you’re a single mom who’s working two jobs and struggling to make ends meet, a student working your way through school or a veteran or retiree living on a fixed and very limited income.
You’ll have to find a way to pay the cost of fines and court-mandated DUI classes. If you’re depended on your car to get to your job or to your school, you’ll have to search for an alternate mode of transportation. But one good thing about living in the Los Angeles area is that you may have more options for coping with the crisis than someone who lives in more rural areas.
If you drive your car to work every day, and this is your first DUI offense, you may be able to get a restricted license that will let you drive to and from work. (Unfortunately, driving yourself to school or college is not permitted under a restricted license.)
But restricted licenses aren’t cheap, and it takes some time to get one. You’ll have to wait until the end of your mandatory 30-day license suspension before you can apply. Then you’ll have to be enrolled in a licensed DUI First Offender Program (and let them know that you’ll be applying for a restricted license). You’ll also have to pay a $125 fee to get your license reissued.
But if you don’t have that money, or you can’t wait a month, you may be able to find a different way to work. Check out the Metro Rail System, which includes subway and light rail lines, and the Metro Bus System, which includes more than 200 different lines. Get the schedules and more details here.
If you’re pinching every penny, you should check out the special reduced fares section of the Metro website. For example, senior (62 years and older), people with disabilities, disabled veterans, college students and school age students from K-12th grade can all get discounts by applying for a TAP (Transit Access Pass) card.
Some transit agencies in the greater Los Angeles area have Rider Relief Programs that provide fare subsidy coupons for people with lower incomes. For a three-person household, for example, that income level would have to be below $39,100 a year.
You should also check with your employer, especially if you work for a large company. Some offer discounts/incentives to employees who take public transportation in order to do their part in reducing congestion in the city and the surrounding areas.
With Metro Rideshare/Shared Mobility you might be able to find commuters going on in your direction who are willing to take you along. If you opt to go the carpool route, you may find yourself sharing the ride and traveling expenses (gas, toll, parking, etc.) with others who are heading to work or to some other activity like a concert. There are also vanpools, which usually involve a group of 5 to 15 people. With a vanpool, you’d typically pay a monthly fare and a maintenance fee.
The Metro website helps bring riders together; you can register and check out your options at RideMatch.
Of course, there are also ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. If you don’t have good access to public transportation, you may be able to rely on these services, but they are likely to cost more than taking the Metro.
Getting your life back on track
An arrest for a DUI can be a wakeup call. If you’ve been using drugs or alcohol to just make it through each day, having to deal with the after effects of a DUI may be enough to make you realize that it’s time you found a better way to cope with your problems.
For students, a good place to start is at your college’s counseling center. Every school, from USC, UCLA, and CAL State LA to community colleges like Los Angeles City College, Irving Valley College and Orange Coast College offers low or no-cost counseling and mental health services to students.
UCLA’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), for example, has a special section of its website devoted to Alcohol and Other Drug Services that offers several services and suggestions to students who need help.
• A brief screening with a CAPS counselor to explore options for individual counseling, as well as a two-hour meeting with an individual therapist about the use of drugs and alcohol and the impact they may have on your life.
• A confidential, anonymous online alcohol screening program.
• Bruins for Recovery (B4R), a group of recovering UCLA students who can support other students trying to overcome substance abuse problems.
• Guidance to community resources or other programs (like the Matrix Institute on Addictions) that may help you get a handle on your alcohol and/or alcohol and drug problem.
UCLA also offers individualized and group therapy for problems like depression, stress, etc.
If you’re not in school, but you work full time, check to see if your employer offers an employee assistance program that provides short term counseling. If you don’t have that option, and you live in Los Angeles County, the Public Health Department has Community Assessment Service Centers (CASC) that can direct you to drug and alcohol treatment resources.
The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health offers prevention and early intervention (PEI) services as well as other programs to help people with other types of mental illness, such as depression. To find services in your area, you can call the Adult System of Care information line at 213-739-2868 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or the ACCESS Center 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-854-7771.
If you want to get a fresh start after a DUI, one way to make a big change is to get a better job. The Los Angeles Economic & Workforce Development Department has 6 WorkSource Center and 3 satellite centers throughout the area. Their website says it has thousands of employment postings in a variety of fields, as well as a staff that can help you develop a resume and find a new job. If you don’t currently have access to a computer or printer, or if you have no way of searching online job sites or posting your resume there, the WorkSource Center makes those resources available to you.
The WorkSource Center network also has information on job training and career building in specific industries where skilled employees are in high demand. Those industries include hospitality and entertainment; bioscience; green technology and utilities; health care; financial services; advanced and clean manufacturing; and trade, transportation and logistics.
Some programs are located at specific WorkSource sites, so make sure to check the website for the one closest to you.
Getting a DUI is never a good thing, and it can obviously make your life more difficult, especially in the short term. But there are opportunities in adversity, and if you can come out of this experience with a better knowledge of yourself and with better skills, you’ll find that the DUI has changed your life in a good way.