By Daniel Carde
I never knew a “good night out” on the town with friends could be so expensive.
I was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated May 10.
The previous week had been a blur of tragedy and anxiety, and I thought I deserved a fun escape.
On May 4, I learned my friend, John Villafranco, drowned while saving his wife from a cold river after their kayak capsized April 21 in New York.
Then, on May 6, my grandfather Benjamin Card succumbed to cancer.
The following day, my stepfather, Evan Green, had a lump surgically removed from his right side.
The oncologist was concerned it was a recurrence of renal cell carcinoma. He was right.
Those were my reasons for doing what I did. They do not excuse my actions. I take full responsibility for the reckless and dangerous decision I made.
After those three rough days, I decided I needed a night out with friends to do something enjoyable.
A Friday-night punk rock show at Hi-Tones, followed by a trip to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 76 seemed like it would be a great morale booster. (Though I am a veteran, I am not a veteran of a foreign war.)
Beer and Jameson shots flowed as my friends made toasts to my grandfather and my friend.
The more I drank, though, the more the events of the week seemed to consume my mind.
With food becoming the only other thing I could think about, I decided to grab a meal and then go home.
I didn’t think about taking a cab or getting a ride with a sober driver as I normally would.
As I pulled into the two-way, left-turn lane to enter McDonald’s, a car heading the opposite direction entered the lane as well. Our driver’s side front corner panels collided.
I had been drinking; the other driver had not, so I was found at fault, arrested and charged with DWI.
I only had liability insurance coverage, and my car was deemed a total loss. There went $3,000.
I had to pay an impound fee and towing fee from when my undriveable car was towed to the impound lot and then home the next day.
The fees cost around $250.
During court, I was ordered to get a portable in-home Breathalyzer unit for nine months. The Breathalyzer cost an initial $105 to rent, plus a $75-a-month recalibration charge and a $45 end-of-service fee.
Add another $750 to my bill.
I was required to attend a DWI live-victim impact panel where the father of a boy killed by a drunk driver spoke about the accident that took his son’s life.
A man who survived being hit by a drunk driver also spoke about when he was hit and his long road to recovery. I also had to attend three days of DWI education classes and pay for a drug and alcohol evaluation.
The total for classes, evaluation and impact panel cost about $120.
Part of my retribution included 75 hours of community service. I could have made $750 had I been working instead of doing community service.
I spent $150 to replace the cell phone I lost while being arrested.
Pay phone calls in the Central Magistrate’s Office and the cost of bail totaled around $400.
Court fees and probation fees totaled about $2,000.
My driver’s license was suspended for six months, and if I want to reinstate it, I have to pay $3,120 over 36 months to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The rather violent arrest by police chipped one of my front teeth. I don’t know how much it will cost to get it fixed.
I was unable to go home to Salt Lake City, Utah, and work a job I had set up for the summer because the court ordered me to remain in Bexar County until December 2015.
That is $4,800 in wages I didn’t earn.
I recently went to visit my family back home in Utah, but I had to get a judge’s permission before I could go.
Upon returning from Utah, I was ordered to do a drug and alcohol test at a cost of $20.
Feel free to add $15,360 to the bill for what was supposed to be my “good night out.”
If I could somehow place a monetary value on the embarrassment and regret from the incident, I would place the grand total as greater than $250,000.
Had I killed someone, I wouldn’t be able to place a value on the night. I am very grateful I didn’t.
Lesson learned and duly noted — never again.
Editor’s note: The family name was misspelled as Carde when Benjamin Card entered the military. Family members choose the version they prefer.