How to Write a Letter to a Court for Drunk Driving

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Be sure to show the judge that you take responsibility for your drunk driving charge and have a plan in place to prevent the same mistake from happening again. The letter should be formally formatted, addressing the judge appropriately with a proper salutation and signed off respectfully.

Drunk driving is a serious, life-threatening activity that carries serious legal consequences. While writing a letter to the court may soften the consequences for the offender, it does not lessen the seriousness of the offense. One person dies every 50 minutes in drunk-driving collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ultimately, one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. Save lives. Be sincere in your apology and commitment to never drive drunk again.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The purpose of your letter is to show the judge that you take responsibility for your drunk driving charge and have a plan in place to prevent the same mistake from happening again.

Address and Salutation

Note your name and mailing address on the left side of the top three lines on the page. Place the date on the next line. To properly format your letter, skip two lines and then document the name of the judge on one line, addressed as "Honorable [insert name]." If you don’t know the judge’s name, substitute it with the name of the court. Otherwise, write the name of the court on the next line. Add the court’s mailing address to your address block. Open the letter with “Dear Judge [insert name]:”. If you don’t know the judge’s name, substitute the name of the court.

Confess and Apologize

Begin the letter with a confession and an apology. Express shame and remorse for drinking and driving. Apologize both to the court and to society as a whole. If your actions resulted in an accident that damaged persons or property, specifically address apologies to the victims of your actions also. Be sincere! If you struggle to feel remorse, personalize the situation by imagining that your friend or family member had been harmed or killed in the accident or by another drunk driver.

Mention Your History

State whether this is your first drunk driving offense. The number of offenses will dramatically affect the tone of the letter. First-time offenders can explain that they have never been so reckless before and did not realize until now just how dangerous their actions were. Repeat offenders should confess that they have been guilty of driving drunk in the past.

Provide a Future Plan

Explain how you will prevent yourself from drunk driving in the future. Develop at least two effective strategies that will prevent yourself and potentially others from driving drunk in the future. For example, you might explain the help you will get for yourself, such as enrolling in Alcoholic’s Anonymous. Ask for help from the court also. Some courts may mercifully substitute sobriety programs for jail time.

Ask for Forgiveness

Conclude by taking responsibility for your actions and asking for forgiveness. Tell the court that you are ready to face the consequences of your actions, but ask for the opportunity to prove your remorse and change your behavior. Promise that you will never drive drunk again. Close the letter with “Respectfully submitted,” or "Sincerely," and your signature.

References

About the Author

Nicole Thelin has more than a decade of professional writing experience. She has contributed to newspapers such as the "Daily Herald" of Provo, Utah, and now writes for several online publications. Thelin is pursuing a bachelor's degree in education from Western Governors University.