by John B

Some time in 2013, I got another DUI. Lucky for me, the last one had been over ten years before so I was tried and convicted as a first-time offender again. I had the same attorney (a friend of the family, so I could afford her) and received the minimum required sentencing. Did it get me to stop drinking? It did not. Did I stop driving as my license was suspended? I did not.

I did lose my job, again, and ran out of money for rent, for food, for medical insurance. My partner of almost 20 years covered my part of the rent the first month, but she couldn’t do it a second month. Finally, I ran out of money for booze. Something had to be done, so I reached out for help, and was directed to a detox center in San Francisco. After a few days, and a grand mal seizure followed by a stay in the St. Francis Hospital ICU, I was eventually admitted into the rehab arm of the detox center, the “Big House.” I thought six months was a little extreme but signed on the dotted line. I was out of options. 

Something had to be done, so I reached out for help

Along the way I got a sponsor, worked the steps and got service commitments. I went to a meeting every day. My favorite meetings were the 10 PM weekdays at 2900, the Mission Fellowship. I could get out of the fishbowl I was living in and participate and make it back by curfew. I was used to taking the bus to get around town and didn’t really give much thought to the car I had left at my ex’s house in Alameda. That changed when she told me that I had to get it out of her driveway; she was tired of looking at it.

So I went back and got it. Started using it to get around, while being fearful of being arrested for driving on a suspended license, but felt I had no other options. When my sentencing had occurred, I was pretty much drunk all the time and had no idea what to do to become legal. I was pretty sure I could never afford whatever lay before me, and the complications were baffling.

As luck would have it, one night while leaving the Mission Fellowship, having graduated the rehab by this time, after dropping my new S.O. at BART, I ran into a sobriety checkpoint. Stone sober, and full of fear. The police were very nice, and after running my ID, told me that I had almost a half hour before the tow company arrived to get someone with a valid license to drive the vehicle away. It was almost midnight, and while I had a phone full of AA numbers, I couldn’t raise anyone in time to avoid the impound. I was almost ready to just walk away from the whole thing again. I had no idea what to do. And I had a fresh misdemeanor ticket to boot. 

Brad from the Mission Fellowship offered me a ride to 850 Bryant to help get the car back

The next morning Brad O. from 2900’s Mission Fellowship called me back and offered me a ride to 850 Bryant to help get the car back. I was delighted for the assist, and off we went. But it was a weekend, and almost nobody was there. We did get news that there was a cop shop out by Townsend that was open, and that they could help me get a release to get it out of impound. So off we went, again. That station told us that the guy at 850 Bryant was crazy and I had to wait until Monday. Sigh. I had been sober for a little while by this point, but without having an AA friend to be solid moral support at this point, I probably would have gone off the rails, yelling at anyone within earshot. I absolutely would never have gotten my license back; the whole ordeal was too frightening.

Now I have unrestricted license privileges, liability insurance and current registration

In the end, they wouldn’t release my car until I signed up for a year of DUI classes. So I go to register for those, and I’m told, sorry, can’t do that until I install a Breathalyzer in the car. The closest install technician was in Hayward. Okay, so I made the call and went to get the keys to the technician who’s headed in from Hayward, only to find out the car wasn’t even in the impound next to 850 Bryant, but in South City. Thank goodness the technician picked up his phone in transit and was redirected to the other impound lot.

A few years later now, I have unrestricted license privileges, liability insurance (full coverage will be too expensive until 2023), current registration, and even a motorcycle license. By the grace of God, certainly, but absolutely through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Thanks, Bradley O.

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