How I lost my right to vote is sort of a roundabout story. I had a bad drinking problem during the '80s and '90s. I was locked up 14 times for DUI’s. I had 13 first offenses. Yeah, you read that right - 13 FIRST offenses. It’s amazing what money can buy!
Anyway, on my last (13th) offense, they charged me with 2nd offense enhanced because I had three in five years. They forgot to classify me as a habitual violator. Weeks later, they caught it and they had my bondsman threaten me with a warrant. I’m sure it was just a power play on her just to get me in court because I was not on paper and just given a fine. So, I show up in court and they pretty much said they made an error and thanked me for coming back in (If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone). At that point, they classified me “habitual violator” and said that if I got a DUI again, it would be a felony.
Here’s where it gets sketchy: Fast forward four years to Nashville. I got pulled over while driving an older model truck during lunch hour with a black guy (we were coming back from a temp job). Apparently this was probable cause. Anyway, I went to jail and they gave me a charge that was “Felonious Operation of a Motor Vehicle”. I was stone cold sober, just driving on a suspended license.
Long story short, I now have a felony on my record. I am not a dangerous criminal nor had I ever had a felony prior to this event. Nonetheless, it is on my driving record and criminal record as a felony, and stripped me of my right to vote, appear on a jury, own a gun and hold certain jobs. I spent so much money fighting the system that I have no more money or time to give them. I haven’t owned a car or driven in 20 years. This has followed me and prevented me from obtaining housing and job offers.
I just heard I could get it expunged but at 56-years old, I figure, “What’s the point? I’m disabled now.” Some of my best working years are gone forever. Everyone lost in this deal - my kids, society, the tax man and me.
I didn’t sugar-coat it. That’s the way it happened. The thing about consequences is they’re much harder to swallow when they’re your own fault!
I feel like I need one more last chance to get it right. I’m not the man I used to be, but thank God! I haven’t been in real trouble in 20 years and that is some kind of record for me. I kind of like staying home and staying out of trouble nowadays. So far so good, sounds like a plan.