Thursday, March 20, 2008

Drink and Drive, and it Can Haunt You Forever

......and you don't have to hurt yourself or others for it to haunt you.

I was really happy to read this news story on . Fosters have decided to drop their super high alcohol and guarana/taurine/caffeine fortified drinks. I'm not a wowser, but I'm really glad that one of the brewers has stepped up to take this one on. Printing "Drink responsibly" (in minute lettering) on the side of the single serve sized bottle with two and a half to three standard drinks in it does not end the social responsibility of these corporate giants.

I've been rethinking my relationship to alcohol a lot in recent times, triggered by the diet, general health consciousness, and the ever present "getting older" type thoughts, especially the morning after - the hangovers are getting much harder to deal with!

Socially, responsible drinking is not cool in Australia. If I stopped drinking at my second glass of wine (the healthy daily intake), I'd be pooh-poohed and made to feel like I was a party pooper, or a control freak.

We have a culture that tends to define being laid back with drinking until one's personality is altered in some way. Having a "couple of drinks" is rarely two drinks, it tends to be closer to four or five. For a woman, four drinks is a binge by health standards - that doesn't leave much room for a healthy level of drinking and socialising by Australian social standards.

That's not to say that I've stopped drinking, or that I only have two drinks at a time. I still get hangovers, but I'm aware of the toll they are taking, and I'm thinking in a much more holistic way these days.

I've been having a very stressful time trying to finalise our honeymoon plans.

We just made our final payment on our flights and cruise, when I innocently said "Just confirming we don't need visas, right?" to which was replied "Not unless you have a police record." Cue the drink driving charge rearing its ugly head once more.

I've had to disclose it to my insurance company, when I applied for a mortgage, advise it to the Blue Card authorities, and now, it could prevent me from going on the magnificent honeymoon we planned.

Thankfully, after a lot of research, and a few tears too, I've worked out that I *am* allowed to enter Canada, but only because my crime was not a crime in Canada (their drink driving limit is 0.08%, and my offense was under that) - if I had broken their laws, I would not be allowed in. Full stop. That's it. Five years after the completion of my penalty I could apply to be recognised as rehabilitated, but that process also takes time, and I'd have to demonstrate that I was in fact rehabilitated, and unlikely to re-offend.

The US Consulate has a different set of rules, which while not as black and white in their process, offers the perception of the potential for more discretion, and are far more rigid in the application of the rules. In short, Canada publish their rules, if you are inside of them, you're good to go, if you aren't, you aren't. The US doesn't publish the rules, and you have to apply in each individual case to see what they say. (There are big warnings though, that they don't like drug convictions, or convictions for terrorism ... ... ...) To make things even more involved, there is no consulate in Brisbane, so I have to go to Sydney, because one must personally attend the application interview. The free visa is also accompanied by all kinds of application fees and lodging fees and stuff. I'm hoping, that once again, given I did not break the American law, that I have a good chance I will get the visa, I'm especially hoping I get the visa seeing as though we've just finished PAYING for the trip... which of course, you should never do, until you have all your visas!

Live and learn. I'm just glad we aren't trying to go somewhere where they don't have alcohol in their culture!

I'm guessing, just like the conviction, this is the sort of hassle I have ahead of me for the rest of my life, every time I wish to travel. Fun hey?

Let me learn the lesson for you.

Don't drive home if you've had a few drinks.

I wasn't panicked as I drove up to the breath test - I wasn't drunk, I thought. I was curious to see what my percentage was. I was wrong. legally, I was drunk. It is my price to pay, I accept that, I broke the law.

1 comment:

Girl Clumsy said...

Man, that sounds like a complete bitch. I'm sorry for all the fuss you have to go through. But the great thing is how much you've learned from it, and it shows in your changes in thinking about drinking (hey, I rhymed).

It's actually really hard sometimes to be a non-drinker in the Australian social circumstances you've described. I sometimes feel a bit left out of the fun. The upside is I won't ever be done for DUI.... although I still have a lead-foot problem! Yikes!