The 7 Stages of Surviving
Your Tampa DUI Arrest

How well are you dealing with your DUI stress?

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

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

To make matters worse, you’re also facing critical deadlines while dealing with this stress. As a result, you are being rushed to make some of the most important decisions in your case. These decisions will have a long-lasting impact on your case, career, and future. If you accidentally make a critical mistake by missing a deadline or failing to preserve necessary evidence, you could ruin the chance to get 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 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 tow yard employees piled on, saying, “We Don’t Trust You!” and demanding cash rather than accepting your check or credit card.

It was disrespectful, and it was humiliating.

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

You need to understand how this arrest will affect you, so you can prepare to handle the stress of being arrested, having your life up-ended, and spending a night in jail.

Here are the seven stages you will typically encounter after your DUI arrest. Some people may go through all seven 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. Sometimes the stages all hit at the same time. Other times they may occur out of order. 

There’s no clear picture of exactly what will happen, but this will serve as a 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. In addition, we can share techniques and strategies to help you through each step and minimize the time you spend in each stage of the recovery.

We’ve been there before. I’ve seen thousands of people go through the process 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 seven 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 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. 

These feelings 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 slightly. 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 replaced with a feeling of suffering and emotional pain. You’ll start to play the “What if?” game, putting yourself in a torture chamber as you think about all the negative things that could arise from a DUI conviction. For many people, this feeling is almost unbearable. 

REMEMBER: You will get through this ordeal, and you will survive.

Nobody ever died from a DUI arrest, but that doesn’t mean you won’t start feeling guilty about events from that night. You may also feel regret or remorse about things you didn’t do or should have done.

Unfortunately, others may pile on to make you feel even worse than you already do. 

For example, Florida releases the booking photos of everyone arrested for DUI, so your name and mugshot have been posted across the internet for all the world to see. 

You may feel like the “You Drink, You Drive, You Lose” or other shame campaigns from groups like MADD are targeted directly at you. 

That’s because they design these programs to increase feelings of shame and guilt in someone charged with a DUI.

You may 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. Unfortunately, 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 you, destroying your family life, or even getting you fired.

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

You may yell 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. Prepare to deal with the inevitable anger and bargaining that will arise, so you can keep yourself under control and avoid ruining any relationships.

Stage #4

Just when your friends start to think you should be moving on and past the stress of the situation, you may encounter a period of sadness and self-reflection that overwhelms 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 always beneficial during this stage of grieving.

In this stage, you may finally realize the true magnitude of the consequences of a DUI arrest. And yes, it can be depressing. You may isolate yourself on purpose and start playing the “What if?” game again.

You’ll reflect on things you did (and didn’t) do. It’s not unusual to dredge up your past and magnify any other mistakes you’ve ever made. As a result, you may feel empty or feel a sense of despair. Yes, a DUI arrest is 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, a 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. But 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 tackling the financial obstacles to reconstructing your life. 

Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer helps you reach this stage faster than normal. The DUI lawyer can show you techniques and strategies for getting your license back and minimizing the potential punishments. The lawyer will also outline how the case will be handled and how they plan to minimize (or even eliminate!) the consequences of your DUI arrest.

Stage #7

In this final step, you accept and deal with the reality of your DUI arrest. 

Reaching this stage doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy instant happiness, but you won’t feel like you’re giving up, either.

Given everything you’ve been through, you may feel like you can’t recover the life 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 with the ability, reputation, knowledge, and 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 specializing 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 can easily easily cost you $30,000, $40,000, even $50,000! (Good news: You can avoid almost all of that if your DUI lawyer gets the DUI dropped or reduced!)

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

If you want your best chance of avoiding a DUI, 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 with Elliott about your 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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