Early DUI arrest changes teetotaller's life forever

DEAR ABBY: Thirty years ago, I went out for a night of social drinking with friends. After consuming several drinks, I made the mistake of thinking I could drive home. The result was I was arrested for DUI. As it was my first offense, the charges were dismissed after I completed a diversion program. Although not considered a conviction, the arrest is still accessible through open records in my state. This was, and is, a source of embarrassment to me.

I no longer drink alcohol. I want your readers to know they need to think twice before drinking and driving. That one night changed my life forever, and it will change theirs if they're involved in an accident and hurt or take someone's life. I was lucky that neither of those things happened to me.

Now I have a concern regarding my teenage daughter. She's at an age where she's aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. She has little respect for people she has heard about who have been arrested for DUIs. She doesn't know about my arrest. If she chose to, she could access my open records and see my DUI arrest. Should I tell her about my past, or keep it to myself? Although we have a good father/daughter relationship, I'm concerned if I tell her it could have a negative impact going forward.

— LEARNED THE LESSON

DEAR LEARNED: Some teens can be judgmental because they have not yet had enough life experience to practice empathy. While I don't think the odds are great that your daughter will search online to see if her parent has a record, I do think you should have another discussion with her about the repercussions of driving under the influence. And when you do, emphasize that this kind of error in judgment can happen to ANYONE who gets behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or ingesting prescription drugs because it once happened to you — and unless she's aware, it could also happen to her.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 54 and finally finishing my bachelor's degree. It has been a very long journey, and I'm excited to finally attain it. My question is: Which last name should I put on my degree? I still use my ex-husband's last name because I have a son with him. After I remarried I still didn't change it.

My educational goal was a personal one, and I'm proud of myself for finishing it. I wanted to use my maiden name on my degree because this degree is also for my parents, although both have since passed. So, which last name should I use for my degree?

— UNSURE IN TEXAS

DEAR UNSURE: If you plan to use your degree for anything more than a wall decoration, and plan on continuing to use your ex-husband's name in your career, put that name on the diploma. If not, using your maiden name as a sentimental tribute to your parents is a lovely idea.

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