Category Archives: Duiblog

What are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in California if You’re Under 21

Drunk driving is an incredibly serious offense, and a DUI conviction can lead to not only a suspended license but even jail time. But the stakes are even higher for those under 21, who not only face more stringent BAC requirements than the standard intoxication threshold BAC of 0.08%, but mandatory PAS testing, and the potential of delaying obtaining their license if they do not yet have one. 

What Counts as Driving Under the Influence for Drivers Under 21?

Driving under the influence for any person under the age of 21 in California is defined as any person under 21 years old who has a deductible blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01% or greater. There are additional charges that the driver could face, as well.

How is BAC Measured in California?

The blood alcohol content is officially measured with a blood or breath DUI chemical test. However, when concerning underage drivers or potential underage drinking and driving, the test may consist of what’s referred to as a “PAS” test. PAS stands for preliminary alcohol, and can be conducted in the field, and is considered a roadside test. 

The preliminary alcohol screening, and is most frequently measured with a portable breathalyzer test. While those over 21 are given the option to consent to the test if they are suspected of intoxication, those under 21 face an automatically suspended license if they refuse. Additionally, if a driver potentially facing an under-21 DUI refuses the PAS test, they are barred from applying for a restricted license.

The Difference in DUI Offenses In California

There are several different potential offenses that California drivers may face when they either possess or consume alcohol while driving. These range from the under-21 zero-tolerance DUI statute to an enhanced underage DUI charge, and more. 

Zero-Tolerance Underage DUI

Under California vehicle code 23136, those who are under 21 and are pulled over for suspected DUI will be asked to submit to a roadside preliminary alcohol screening. If the results of this screening show a detectable blood alcohol content of at least 0.01%, then the driver can face a charge for violation of the zero-tolerance law. 

The driver may refuse to participate in the preliminary alcohol screening, however, this will result in an automatic 1-year license suspension. This offense is not considered a criminal charge, it is considered a civil offense.

Underage DUI W/BAC 0.05% Or Higher

California vehicle code 23140 states that a driver under the age of 21 may face more severe penalties for having more detectable alcohol in their system. Unlike the zero-tolerance law, violations of VEH 23140 carry potential criminal charges. If an underage driver is taken into custody and placed under arrest for this offense, they will generally be given a post-arrest DUI chemical test to confirm the BAC.

Penalties for violation and conviction under VEH 23140 can include a fine, as well as license suspension for a full year, as well as a mandatory alcohol education program for those over 18. The alcohol education course will be a minimum of 3 months, often longer.

Standard DUI

California vehicle code 23152 is considered a “standard” DUI charge. It is the charge reserved for drivers whose abilities are impaired or compromised due to drugs or alcohol, or for drivers who drive with a BAC of 0.08%. VEH 23152 is a criminal misdemeanor, which can result in criminal penalties upon conviction.

Penalties for conviction under 23152 carry a mandatory suspension of the driver’s license, along with between 3 and 5 years of probation. Fines can range from nearly $400 to $1,000, as well as either a 3-month or 9-month drug or alcohol education program. The driver may also face a potential 6-month jail sentence for repeat offenders. 

Underage Possession of Alcohol in a Vehicle

A charge of violating California vehicle code 23224 can be laid if the person under 21 is determined to be in possession of alcohol while in a vehicle. The only exceptions to this are:

  • If the container is full, sealed, and unopened
  • If they are accompanied by their parent or guardian
  • If they are getting rid of the alcohol per an adult’s direction
  • If they are transporting it as part of their job while working for someone with a legitimate and valid liquor license

Charges under VEH 23224 are often laid in addition to charges under the zero-tolerance law and are a misdemeanor criminal offense. A conviction can carry penalties of confiscation and impoundment of the vehicle for up to 30 days, fines of up to $1,000, and suspension of the driver’s license for a full year.

Can You Be Charged with Multiple Offenses for Drunk Driving?

In many cases, you can be charged with multiple DUI offenses for a single incident, though there are some stipulations. If you are found to have a BAC of 0.05%, you will likely be charged with both the zero-tolerance law, as well as VEH 23140. If you have a BAC of 0.08% or more, you will likely face charges under the zero-tolerance law as well as VEH 23152.

While drivers can face multiple charges, you can only be convicted of one type of DUI criminal charge per offense. This means that even if you are facing charges under VEH 23136, VEH 23140, and VEH 23152, you may be convicted under VEH 23136, and either VEH 23140 or VEH 23152 but not both.

What is the Penalty for Someone Under 21 Violating the Zero-Tolerance Law?

Since the zero-tolerance law is a civil offense and not a criminal offense, the penalty is less severe than the criminal equivalents. The only penalty that a driver faces for violating VEH 23136 is a mandatory and automatic DMV suspension or revocation of the driver’s license. This is an administrative measure known as a “per se suspension”.

When the officer at the scene cites the driver for the violation, the license will be confiscated and sent to the DMV. The driver will then be given a temporary license that is valid for 30 days. When the 30-day period concludes, the license will be suspended or revoked unless it is formally contested.

If the driver did not have a valid license at the time the offense allegedly occurred, the administrative suspension will prevent the driver from obtaining a license for one year. The suspension was due to a PAS or DUI chemical test refusal, the suspension can also be contested.

Is There Any Way to Fight or Appeal a Zero-Tolerance Suspension?

You can request a hearing to prevent the suspension of your license, but the request must be made within 10 days of the original citation. If you have an attorney, they can also request the hearing on your behalf. This will place a moratorium on the suspension, which will then only go into effect if the driver loses the under-21 DUI hearing.

Most hearings take place via phone, however, you can request an in-person hearing at a DMV regional location. The following issues will be discussed:

  • Were you driving the vehicle?
  • Were you lawfully detained?
  • Did the driver refuse a chemical DUI test or was their BAC over 0.01%?

If your hearing was successful your license will be returned to you and the suspension canceled, if you lose the hearing you must wait until the conclusion of the suspension to reinstate full driving permissions.

What is a Restricted Hardship License?

Drivers convicted of an underage DUI can get a restricted license, also known as a hardship license, which can allow them to maintain some semblance of a normal life following suspension or revocation. Drivers are only eligible for a restricted hardship license if they did not initially refuse the preliminary alcohol screening. Additional requirements include:

  • Requiring a vehicle for:
    • Transportation due to illness
    • Getting to and from school
    • Getting to and from work
    • A family business that contributes to the family’s income
  • All other transportation options being deemed insufficient by the DMV

Those drivers who are determined to be eligible for the restricted hardship license must still serve the mandatory initial 30-day suspension following the DUI.

Can My License Ever Be Reinstated After a Zero-Tolerance Conviction?

The suspension or revocation received after conviction for underage DUI under the zero-tolerance law can be reversed and the license reinstated, following the conclusion of the suspension or revocation period. The automatic DMV suspension can be reinstated by taking the following steps:

  • Paying a mandatory $100 fee to the DMV to reissue the license
  • Filing proof of insurance and financial responsibility with the DMV, known as an SR-22
  • Maintaining proof of continuous financial responsibility for three years

Are You Facing Charges Under the Zero-Tolerance Law?

If you or someone you know may be facing potential penalties for under-21 DUI in Los Angeles or anywhere else in California, one of the first things you should do is to contact a defense attorney. Working with an experienced DUI defense lawyer can be your best chance at minimizing the penalties while giving you a powerful advocate for the entire process. Reach out today to discuss your case details confidentially.

Physical Disabilities That Can Be Mistaken for Intoxication

When a police officer stops someone under suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the officer watches the person for signs of intoxication. If the driver refuses to take a breathalyzer test, the only basis for a DUI arrest might be the police officer’s observations of signs of intoxication.

Signs of intoxication often cited by police officers when making a DUI arrest include:

  • An odor of alcohol emitting from the person or vehicle
  • Slurred speech
  • The person has trouble and fumbles when trying to take out their driver’s license and insurance information
  • Incoherent speech
  • Bloodshot or watery eyes
  • Poor driving behaviors, such as weaving, driving too slowly, using turn signals incorrectly, stopping at green lights, etc.
  • Falling over while standing up
  • Poor coordination and motor skills
  • Slow verbal responses when asked questions 
  • Telling different stories when answering questions 
  • Stumbling when exiting the vehicle
  • Disorientation or confusion 
  • Difficulty staying awake or holding up their head

If the police officer observes any of the above signs of intoxication, the officer will likely arrest the person for DUI and take them to jail. However, there could be other reasons a person displays the signs of intoxication. For example, physical disabilities and medical conditions may include some of the above symptoms. Therefore, a person with pre-existing medical conditions that cause signs that mimic intoxication could be unjustly arrested and detained. 

Medical Conditions and Physical Disabilities That Could Be Mistaken for Intoxication

Multiple physical disabilities and health conditions impact a person’s ability to walk a straight line, speak clearly, or maintain balance. As a result, the person may “fail” DUI field sobriety tests. Common physical disabilities and medical conditions that could cause a police officer to believe the person is intoxicated include, but are not limited to:

Traumatic Brain Injuries 

For some individuals, the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries remain for months or years after the brain injury. Some people may experience lifelong symptoms of brain injury. 

A person could experience speech, coordination, balance, and memory problems. While people who know the person are familiar with how the person normally behaves because of the brain injury, a police officer could mistakenly believe the person is intoxicated.

Degenerative and Neurological Disorders 

Numerous degenerative disorders impact a person’s coordination, speech, cognitive ability, and memory. During the early stages of these diseases, a person may be able to drive, but they could experience periods of heightened symptoms. 

Examples of neurological or degenerative disorders that could mimic intoxication include:

  • Dementia
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Ataxia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Korsakoff syndrome
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Parkinson disease
  • Myasthenia Gravis

An undiagnosed brain tumor could cause a person to experience symptoms that mimic intoxication. Additionally, a person could have any one of numerous disorders or diseases that they are unaware of at the time of a DUI arrest. 

Diabetes

A person with diabetes may experience periods of extremely low blood sugar levels. When a person’s blood sugar level falls too low, the person could experience dizziness, disorientation, slurred speech, and irritability. A police officer could mistake these symptoms as intoxication.

Additionally, a person with diabetes may have extremely high levels of ketones in their breath. High levels of ketones can cause a false positive on a breath test.

Epilepsy 

A person with epilepsy may experience a seizure without warning. Epilepsy may not always cause seizures. A person may appear to be confused, have trouble speaking, be unsteady on their feet, or have trouble focusing. A police officer who stops a person who is experiencing a seizure or just experienced a seizure might believe the person is drunk.

How Could a Medical Condition or Physical Disability Cause You to Fail a DUI Field Sobriety Test?

It may be difficult to believe that a police officer could mistake a person’s medical condition for intoxication. However, standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests measure a person’s cognitive and physical abilities. Because many physical disabilities, illnesses, and health conditions impair physical and cognitive abilities, a police officer may not be able to distinguish between intoxication and a medical condition.

The standardized field sobriety tests approved by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) are:

  • One-leg stand test
  • Walk and turn test
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test

In addition to the standardized field sobriety tests, many police officers use unofficial field sobriety tests to look for signs of intoxication. Some of those tests include, but might not be limited to:

  • Finger-to-nose test 
  • Rhomberg balance test
  • Hand pat test
  • Finger count test

Field sobriety tests measure your ability to perform specific tasks. While you perform the tasks, the police officer looks for signs that you are intoxicated. However, many of these tasks are the same tasks that could be impaired or affected by an illness or medical condition. Therefore, your inability to perform the tasks might stem from your health condition, instead of alcohol. 

Things that a police officer looks for when administering field sobriety tests include:

  • Involuntary tremors and muscle tone that is too limp or overly rigid
  • Inability to follow instructions or follow a set of instructions in the correct order
  • Performing tasks very slowly
  • Making inappropriate or confusing comments
  • Inability to stand still
  • Swaying back and forth
  • Being unsteady on your feet and stumbling
  • Slurring your words and having difficulty translating thoughts into spoken words

The issue is that these “clues” of intoxication can be caused by numerous health conditions. Therefore, the field sobriety tests are inaccurate and invalid. However, a police officer has no way of knowing this fact during a DUI investigation on the side of the road. To the police officer, the person appears intoxicated. Therefore, the officer arrests the person for driving under the influence without conducting any further investigation.

Health Conditions Can Affect a Breathalyzer Test

In addition to affecting field sobriety tests, some health conditions could affect a breathalyzer test. These conditions could result in a “false positive” on a DUI breath test even though the person does not have any alcohol in their system.

Health conditions that could impact a breathalyzer test include:

Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders such as acid reflux, hiatal hernia, heartburn, Gut fermentation syndrome (auto-brewery syndrome), and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) can “trick” the breathalyzer into thinking that you are intoxicated. Instead of picking up residual mouth alcohol from deep lung air, the test detects stomach contents that flowed back up into the esophagus. 

Conditions That Affect Blood Sugar

Several conditions that affect blood sugar can cause incorrect breathalyzer results. Conditions include diabetes, high-protein diets, hypoglycemia, and fasting. 

Carbohydrates in the food we eat break down into sugars, including glucose. Glucose is the primary energy source our bodies use. However, if we do not eat enough carbohydrates to produce the glucose our bodies need, our bodies use fat stores for energy.

The fat is broken down into chemicals, including isopropyl alcohol and ketones. Excess ketones and isopropyl alcohol exit the body through your breath and urine. People with diabetes or hypoglycemia can also have high levels of ketones. 

Even though breathalyzer manufacturers claim that their machines can differentiate ethyl alcohol found in alcoholic beverages and isopropyl alcohol, people with excess ketones can receive false “positives” on breathalyzer tests.

Medications 

Some medications can affect the results of a breathalyzer test. If you take these medications for a health condition, the results of a breathalyzer test could indicate you are intoxicated even though you have not consumed any alcohol.

Medications that could give a false “positive” on a breathalyzer test include:

  • Asthma inhalers can dispense large amounts of alcohol in the lungs
  • Cough and cold medications that contain alcohol 
  • Medications to relieve pain from cold sores, toothaches, and canker sores often contain high amounts of alcohol

If a breathalyzer test or other chemical test shows you have a high blood alcohol content (BAC) when you did not consume alcohol, you should contact a DUI defense lawyer immediately to challenge the results. 

What Should You Do if You Have a Medical Condition That Could Be Misinterpreted as Intoxication?

Wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace that notifies officers of your medical condition could be helpful during a DUI stop. Notify the officer of your medical condition and request medical assistance. If you begin to experience symptoms that impair your ability to drive or feel unwell, pull over to a safe location and call 911. 

Even though you tell a police officer you have a medical condition that could be causing symptoms that mimic intoxication, the officer may still arrest you for driving under the influence. Do not resist arrest as that could result in additional charges. Instead, when you arrive at the jail, make another request for medical attention. Also, invoke your right to remain silent and request to speak with an attorney.

With an attorney’s assistance, you can fight the DUI charges. Your attorney helps you develop a defense based on your medical records, expert opinions, research, witness statements, and scientific evidence. A DUI arrest is not a conviction. If you have a medical condition or physical disability, do not plead guilty to a DUI charge without consulting a DUI defense attorney.

Is the “Ambien Defense” Valid in California?

Yes, the “Ambien Defense” can be valid in California, but it would take extraordinary circumstances for a person to beat a DUID charge using this defense. Criminal defense attorneys have an uphill battle in these cases. A DUID charge is similar to a DUI charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol, but a DUID charge means driving under the influence of drugs. 

Even if the Ambien defense does not get the DUID charges dismissed, a DUID conviction is usually a misdemeanor, while a DUI conviction is sometimes a felony. A California DUI attorney can talk with you about your situation and advocate vigorously on your behalf.

How Can Ambien Cause Impaired Driving?

Ambien is a brand name for a specific sleeping pill. It is one of many prescription medications that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies as drugs used to induce or maintain sleep (sedative-hypnotic). Some examples of prescription sedative-hypnotic drugs are:

  • Zolpidem (sold as Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo, and Zolpimist)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Secobarbital (Seconal)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)

The FDA states that over-the-counter (non-prescription) drugs like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and Unisom (doxylamine) can treat insomnia and that many cold and headache multidrug products contain these substances.

The FDA issued a safety announcement on May 14, 2013, warning that there was a known risk of next-morning driving impairment after using zolpidem products, specifically Ambien, Ambien CR, and Edluar. The FDA approved new label changes that warned people taking those products against driving or engaging in “other activities that require complete mental alertness the day after taking the drug because zolpidem levels can remain high enough the next day to impair these activities.” 

 

What is Sleep-Driving?

A research study reported in 2011 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine explored eight clinical patients and six legal defendants who reported unusual behaviors after taking zolpidem. The legal defendants were facing charges of driving under the influence. The author of the article served as an expert witness for the defense in those criminal cases.

The study revealed that sleep-driving and other unusual conduct can happen after a person takes zolpidem products. The patients and defendants had periods of confusion and poor motor control. All of these study participants appeared to be fully awake and interacting with their environment, although they described having amnesia for between three and five hours during the episode. 

Similar to sleepwalking, the patient or defendant got into their vehicle and drove around without being in control of or aware of the fact that they were doing so. To an observer, the driver would look awake and acting intentionally.

Some episodes happened after taking zolpidem during the daytime, while others occurred after ingesting zolpidem at bedtime. At least one participant accidentally took zolpidem because of mistaking the drug for a medication with a similar size and shape of pill.

The Legal Hurdles for Trying to Use the Ambien Defense

Prosecutors argue that it is no defense if a person takes a substance known to cause sleep-driving or to impair the ability to drive, even the next day. The labeling on Ambien and similar sleeping pills warns about the side effects. The challenge is that when an individual sleep drives after taking zolpidem, the prosecutor will allege that they should have taken reasonable measures to prevent sleep-driving from happening.

A common analogy is when a defendant tries to avoid the consequences of the DUI case by saying that the alcohol made him unable to control his actions. If a DUI defendant voluntarily consumed alcohol or should have known that he ingested substances containing alcohol, then he cannot evade the drunk driving laws.

When someone gets charged with a DUI or a DUID for being under the influence of sleeping pills, his best hope of successfully using the Ambien defense is to prove that he intended to take some other medication, not the sleeping pill, and that he took the pill accidentally or that he  was unaware of the risk of sleep-driving. 

Judges and juries will naturally be skeptical of people trying to use the Ambien defense  of this legal maneuver.

If you or someone you know is facing DUI charges for being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, you want to get legal advice immediately. You do not want to try to fight DUI charges, particularly something as complex as using the Ambien defense, without having a California DUI lawyer by your side.

AUTO BREWERY SYNDROME

In 2016, an upstate New York woman she blew a blood alcohol level more than four times the legal limit and was charged with a DUI. However, the a judge dismissed the charges after being presented with evidence the woman suffers from “auto-brewery syndrome.”

“I had never heard of auto-brewery syndrome before this case,” her attorney told CNN. “But I knew something was amiss when the hospital police wanted to release her immediately because she wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms.”

“That prompts me to get on the Internet and see if there is any sort of explanation for a weird reading,” adds her her attorney. “Up pops auto-brewery syndrome and away we go.”

“I’m in touch with about 30 people who believe they have this same syndrome, about 10 of them are diagnosed with it,” said Panola College Dean of Nursing Barbara Cordell, who has studied the syndrome for years. “They can function at alcohol levels such as 0.30 and 0.40 when the average person would be comatose or dying. Part of the mystery of this syndrome is how they can have these extremely high levels and still be walking around and talking.”

Auto-brewery syndrome is a very rare condition.  People who have auto-brewery syndrome register abnormally high blood alcohol levels, even if they consume no alcohol. Crohn’s disease, liver problems, poor nutrition, antibiotics, inflammatory bowel disease,  low immune system, diabetes are all believed to cause auto brewery syndrome. Symptoms can sometimes include moodiness, confusion, difficulty focusing, lack of physical coordination, and memory problems.

When people suffer from this disorder, their bodies makes alcohol out of carbs they eat. This happens insides the gut or intestines. It may be caused by too much yeast in the gut. Yeast is a fungus. Some kinds of yeast that might cause this disorder are

  • Candida albicans
  • Candida glabrata
  • Torulopsis glabrata
  • Candida krusei
  • Candida kefyr
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae 

The syndrome was first discovered in 1912. It was then called “germ carbohydrate fermentation.” It was studied in the 1930s and ‘40s as a contributing factor to vitamin deficiencies and irritable bowel syndrome. Right now, there’s no criteria to diagnose or even treat auto-brewery syndrome making it even harder to tell when patients have the disorder. 

The auto-brewery syndrome might lead to a DUI arrest since it causes patients to have a breath or blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit even though no alcoholic beverage was consumed. However, it can be used as a defense to a DUI charge.

California Vehicle Code 23152 (a) states: It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. Someone with auto brewery system cannot be convicted of violating this statute because they have not consumed any alcoholic beverage.

California Vehicle Code 23152(b) states: It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle. It doesn’t mention the defendant’s BAC needs to be due to actually having consumed an alcoholic beverage. However, involuntary intoxication can be used as a defense to this crime. If someone has not consumed any alcoholic beverages, the defendant’s intoxication was involuntary just as if they were drugged.

Defense would have to use expert testimony to prove to the court that the disorder is valid, the defendant’s medical records that the defendant has the disorder and present evidence that it contributed to the DUI offense.

If you have been arrested for a DUI offense, immediately hire an attorney. If you believe you might suffer from auto brewery syndrome, it is crucial that you discuss with your attorney.

COVID-19 AND DUIs

Since government stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns, there has been a significant drop in the number of cars on the road. If you think this has led to a significant decline in the number of DUIs, you’re right. Data from local and state agencies show showed DUI arrests have decreased significantly since the pandemic arrived. There has been a 42% decrease in DUI rates in California post-pandemic. However, while DUIs have decreased, substance abuse has increased.

The pandemic has caused many Americans to:

-Be isolated from their friends and family

-Fear and worry about their health and the health of their loved ones

-Lose their job or fear losing their job

-Lose the support services they rely on

This has lead to changes in sleep and/or eating patterns, difficulty concentrating and functioning, and worsening of chronic health problems which leads to depression and anxiety and increased substance abuse. Those who already struggle with alcoholism and addiction are at even higher risks of substance abuse during these difficult times.

“I would definitely say the depression, the anxiety, the uncertainty, the loneliness, the isolation, all of those factors aren’t good for mental health,” Sheila Vakharia, deputy director of research and academic engagement at Drug Policy Alliance, told Yahoo Finance. “What we do when we’re feeling that way is that sometimes we shut down, but sometimes we reach out in different ways to cope. Reaching out to your drug of choice, whatever that might be, is one strategy.”

“A lot of this depression and anxiety is also related to the fact that people have lost their jobs,” Vakharia said. “We’ve got unprecedented rates of unemployment, employment instability, the loss of benefits, or other things that your business might do to employees to stay open. I think people do things to cope with the circumstances that they’re in. People are struggling with all these other forms of instability and confusion and lack of information from the top down about what’s going on, when we’re going to get out of this, what they can expect, and how to stay safe.”

In April of this year, one-third of Americans couldn’t make their rent payments. While there’s no comprehensive date, many states report sharp upticks in homeschooling. The unemployment rate stood at 6.7 percent in December, well above pre-pandemic levels of 3.5 percent.

“Are you supposed to be happy when you lose your job?” Ms. Vakharia goes on to say. “Or when your kids are at home and you can’t make ends meet?”

According to the CDC, there were over 81,000 deaths from substance abuse in America in the 12 months ending in May 2020. That the highest number of deaths from substance abuse ever recorded in a 12-month period. According to the market research by Nielsen, online sales of alcohol rose to 234 percent in March of this year compared to March of last year. In-store purchases of tequila, gin, and pre-mixed cocktails increased to 75 percent. Wine sales soared to 66 percent. Beer sales rose to 42 percent.

If you are struggling with a mental health condition such as depression and anxiety, please do not resort drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism. This will only create more problems for yourself and your loved ones. Instead, please consider these healthy tips on how to cope:

-Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Constantly hearing about the pandemic can be stressful.

-Go for a run or a hike.

-Take deep breaths, stretch, or do yoga.

-Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

-Exercise regularly.

-Get plenty of sleep.

-Avoid alcohol and drug use.

-Make time to unwind. Try to do activities you enjoy.

-Take time to journal.

-Make a list of things that you are grateful for.

-Make a list of songs that put you in a positive mood and listen to them when you are down.

-Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

-Do something kind for someone, such as posting a kind comment on someone’s social media page.

-Connect with your community or faith-based organizations via online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

-Another way to cope with depression is to focus on the 5 P’s: 1) People- connect with the right people whom you trust, who make you happy, and who can provide support; 2) Physical Needs- be sure to get enough sleep, eat right and exercise; often we neglect our physical needs when we are depressed and this only increases the depression; 3) Purpose- recognize that we are all put on this planet for a purpose. Find an activity that makes you connect with your life purpose and gives your life an sense of meaning such as joining a community service organization; 4) Positive outlook- recognize that pain is gain and any challenge is just an opportunity for personal growth; and 5) Power- recognize that you have the power to overcome any challenge that comes your way.

-Lastly, know you are not alone and there is help if you need it. Here are a few resources if you are considering harming yourself:

– National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

– Crisis Text Line: Text NAMI to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message

– NAMI HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 am to 6 pm, ET

This Coronavirus pandemic shall pass and you have the power to overcome anything that comes your way. Stay strong.

If you end up abusing alcohol or drugs and are caught committing a DUI, please contact an attorney as soon as possible.