The 7 Stages of Surviving
Your Tampa DUI Arrest

How well are you dealing with your DUI stress?

If you’re like most people I’ve helped, this is the only time you’ve ever been arrested and spent the night in jail.

The stress of the situation can weigh heavily on some people. You might be having trouble sleeping, you’re worried about what could happen to your job, and you’re embarrassed about what your friends and family might be thinking.

To make matters worse, while you’re dealing with all of this stress, you’re also facing important deadlines and are being forced to make some of the most important decisions in your case, decisions which can have a long-lasting impact on your case, your career, and your future. If you accidentally make a critical mistake by missing a deadline or failing to preserve important evidence, you can ruin your chances of getting your license back or even sabotage your entire case.


Help is here, and you’re not alone. You’re going to be okay, and you will get through this. I promise. Keep reading and I’ll tell you how.

First of all, I know that you’re NOT a criminal and you’re NOT a bad person. But even though you’re not a criminal, they sure treated you like one, didn’t they? Everything they did, from the handcuffs, to the food (if they even fed you), to the bathroom, to the “collect calls only” process for calling someone so you could get out of jail…

…The Entire Process Was Designed to Rob You of Your Dignity.

Even the employees at the tow yard piled on, basically saying, “We Don’t Trust You!” and demanding cash, rather than accepting your check or credit card.

It was humiliating.

And now, because of how you were treated, you may be experiencing fear, shame, and even humiliation.

You need to understand how this arrest is going to affect you, and be prepared to handle the stress that may arise from being arrested, having your life up-ended, and spending a night in jail.

Here are the 7 stages that you will typically encounter after you’ve been arrested. Some people may go through all 7 stages in a matter of hours, while others may take weeks (even months) before they complete the cycle.

Each person’s progression will be different, and there isn’t usually a neat “break” from one stage to the next. Often, there will be much looping back, or sometimes the  stages can all hit at the same time, or occur out of order. There’s no clear picture of exactly what will happen, but this will serve as a good general guide of what to expect.

One quick tip: For a quick and easy way to get through this process, you should hire an experienced DUI lawyer. This is what we’re here for… To help you survive your DUI arrest, and to get you through the entire process with as little pain as possible. There are techniques and strategies that we can share to help you through each stage, and to minimize the time that you spend in each stage of the recovery.

We’ve been there before. I’ve seen thousands of people go through the process that you’re about to go through. I can help you get through this as painlessly as possible, so that you can get your life back under control and put this bad experience behind you.

You will survive this…
You will get through this, and…
You will be okay.

Here are the 7 stages of surviving your DUI arrest, and the tips you need for surviving the emotional aftershock of your DUI arrest.

Stage #1

Most clients’ initial reaction to their DUI arrest is a feeling of numbness and disbelief.  It’s common to try and deny the reality of the situation at some level, and to try to hide yourself from the reality of what’s happening.  This is normal. As I said before, for most of the clients I’ve helped, this Tampa DUI arrest is their first problem with the law. Getting arrested and being branded a “criminal” by the prosecutors and the police can be a very emotional experience. Going into shock and trying to hide is your body’s way of providing  emotional protection to keep you from getting completely overwhelmed. This feeling of shock and denial can last for as little as a few days, or as long as a few weeks after your DUI arrest. It’s important to realize that your brain is trying to shut down a little bit, and to seek help as soon as possible, because if you hide too long, you’ll miss important deadlines that can affect the outcome of your DUI case.

Stage #2

Once the shock of the DUI arrest begins to wear off, it will be replace with a feeling of suffering and emotional pain. You’ll play the “What if?” game, putting yourself into a torture chamber and thinking about all of the negative things that can arise from a DUI conviction. For many people, this feeling is almost unbearable. But remember: You will get through this. You will survive.

Nobody ever died from a DUI arrest.

You will probably start feeling guilty about things you did, and feeling regret and remorse about things that you didn’t do or should have done. Unfortunately, some people are going to pile on and try to make you feel worse. Florida releases the booking photos of everyone arrested for DUI, so your name and your mugshot have been posted across the internet, for all the world to see. You’re probably focusing more attention on the “You Drink, You Drive, You Lose” campaigns and the shame campaigns that groups like MADD have published. These tactics are specially designed to increase feelings of shame and guilt in someone who has been charged with a DUI.

You will feel scared and out of control during this phase, but remember: You will survive this.

Stage #3

Once the guilt begins to wear off, the next thing you’ll feel is anger. Feelings of anger can be triggered suddenly and without warning. 

You might read the police reports and feel that the police officer is lying about your DUI arrest

You might feel anger at yourself for getting behind the wheel

You may be angry at others for letting you drive

Obviously, a DUI arrest can be expensive, and this can add extra stress at home. It’s even more difficult at home if you’re the primary driver and now you’re stuck with a suspended driver’s license.  You may want to lash out and blame others, especially close loved ones, just because they’re nearby.  

You must control your temptation to lash out, because if you don’t, you can cause permanent damage to your relationships, driving away the people who love you and care about, destroying your family life, or even getting you fired.

It’s normal and healthy to release your anger and pent-up frustration, but you’ve got to do it in a constructive way (if possible) that doesn’t destroy your relationships.

You may yell out loud, or privately rage and ask, “Why me?!?”  You may try to bargain in vain for a way out of your despair, saying things like “I’ll never drink again” or making promises if it will “just go away.”

Again, this is normal. If you’re prepared to deal with the inevitable anger and bargaining that will arise, you will be able to keep yourself under control so it doesn’t ruin your relationships.

Stage #4

Just when your friends are starting to think that you should be moving on and moving past the stress of the situation, you’ll encounter a period of sadness and self-reflection that can possibly overtake you. This is normal. Don’t let anyone try to talk you out of it, no matter how well-meaning they are. Believe it or not, encouragement from others isn’t very helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

In this stage, you may finally realize the true magnitude of the consequences of a DUI arrest, and it can be depressing. You may isolate yourself on purpose, play the “what if?” game again, reflecting on the things that you did (or didn’t) do, and also focusing on your past and other mistakes that you’ve made. You may feel empty, or feel a sense of despair.  Yes, DUI arrests are serious, but you can’t let it ruin your life.

It’s helpful to have someone to talk to, hopefully someone who listens and understands what you are going through. A close friend, professional therapist, or an experienced DUI attorney are all good people to talk to. Having an experienced DUI attorney on your side will also help you feel like you’re taking back control over your life.

Stage #5

In this stage, your life will feel calmer and more organized, and your depression will begin to lift.  Unfortunately, you may be required to go to court right around this time, which can trigger those negative feelings all over again.

Luckily, if you have an experienced DUI attorney by your side, you may be able to avoid going back to court, so those negative emotions don’t get re-triggered and restart the entire process.

Stage #6

You’re going to start to become even more functional. Your mind will return to processing events normally, and you’ll begin seeking realistic solutions to the problems created by your Tampa DUI arrest.  You’ll start working on practical solutions to the aftershock of the DUI arrest, and will start tackling the financial problems of reconstructing your life. 

Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer can help you get to this stage much quicker than normal, because the DUI lawyer can show you techniques and strategies for getting your license back, minimizing the potential punishments, and help you create a final picture of how the case can be handled so that you minimize (or even eliminate!) the consequences of your DUI arrest.

Stage #7

Finally… the last of the seven stages. Here, you will accept and deal with the reality of your DUI arrest. 

That certainly doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy instant happiness, but it also doesn’t mean that you’ll feel like you’re giving up, either. 

Given everything that you’ve been through, you may feel like you can’t to the life that you enjoyed before you got arrested, but you will find a way forward.  

You will also enjoy hope.  That hope often comes from finding an experienced professional who has the ability, the reputation, the knowledge, and the experience to help you minimize or eliminate the consequences of your DUI arrest.

NEXT STEP: Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Your Case

If you’ve been arrested for DUI, no matter how bad the case looks, do NOT plead guilty without talking to a lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. It may be possible to get your charges reduced (maybe even dismissed), but you’ll never know unless you talk to a DUI expert.

DUI cases are serious, with penalties harsher penalties than many felony cases. Additionally, the “hidden cost” of DUI insurance that can easily cost you $25,000 to $50,000! (Good news: You can avoid almost all of that if your DUI lawyer gets the DUI dropped or gets the charge reduced!)

Many of the issues in DUI cases are extremely time sensitive, so you must act quickly.

If you want your best chance for avoiding a DUI, you should call an experienced Tampa DUI attorney today.

Tampa DUI Attorney Elliott Wilcox has handled thousands of DUI cases. A member of the National College for DUI Defense, a founding member of the DUI Defense Lawyers Association, and a life member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Elliott's practice is dedicated exclusively to helping drivers accused of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). To talk to Elliott about the available options to continue driving and avoiding a DUI, schedule a phone appointment or call (813) 940-4300 today!

The Wilcox Law Firm
620 East Twiggs Street, Suite 304
Tampa, Florida 33602

Call today to schedule your DUI Defense Strategy Session
You will be okay, and you will get through this... We promise!

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