By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Feb 18, 2011 at 1:03 PM

"Bar Month" at is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, bartender profiles and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Jonathan, who asked that we withhold his last name, thought he was being somewhat responsible by taking the side streets home from the bar in Downtown Milwaukee. He knew he was drunk that Saturday night -- not blindingly so -- and had driven home to Wauwatosa in worse condition before.

"I had, I don't know, five or six double whiskey and Cokes," says Jonathan, who didn't have another drink for two hours before getting behind the wheel. "It was very nonchalant, because I had done it before. Sadly, it was probably not the drunkest I had ever driven, but I wasn't like in the commercials where if the police opened my window a bunch of rum and Coke would've poured out."

Jonathan says he didn't even feel like he was swerving, but when he dropped his wallet inside his car and bent down to pick it up, he hit an empty parked car. Even though he hit his head and badly damaged his vehicle, he drove off, though he's still not sure why.

Minutes later, though, Jonathan's conscience kicked in and he called 911 on himself. He knew he was busted before the police even arrived.

"I knew, absolutely, that I would be arrested. They asked if I had been drinking and I said yes. At this point I had already hit a car and was a little dazed. They asked if I was OK, but I thought I was physically fine."

Jonathan says remembers failing his field sobriety test and registering a blood alcohol content of .20, more than twice the legal limit. He was taken in handcuffs to the Elm Grove Police Department, where after placing several calls to friends -- it was about 3:30 a.m. at this point -- one finally picked him up.

"I thought you only get one call, but you get as many calls as you need," he says. "I wasn't in jail at all, I was just sitting on a bench in handcuffs. At that point I sobered up and didn't know what to do next."

But the next morning, Jonathan began the process of rebuilding his life, thankful that no one was hurt by his bad decision -- a decision that he says he will never make again.

Jonathan's arrest occurred in 2007, and by hiring a lawyer, he was able to plead no contest to driving under the influence. He lost his license, but reapplied for a occupational permit that allowed him only to drive to and from work. His insurance covered the damage to the two vehicles, then promptly dropped him. His new policy costs roughly three times more than his old. He was forced to take a "group dynamics" class, too.

Financially, pleading "no contest" didn't put Jonathan in the poor house: the OWI ticket was $716 and the attorney cost about $1,000. The class and occupational license weren't free, either, but his insurance rates went down after two years.

It's a small price to pay, admits Jonathan.

Most importantly, today, Jonathan never drinks and drives. Anything more than two glasses of wine, he takes a cab, and even below that limit, he's apprehensive to get behind the wheel. He's heard that drivers with a DUI are "police magnets," and he thinks they should be.

"I hope that you are profiled. I can't imagine someone getting two or three DUIs, that someone would be that dumb," says Jonathan. "I wasn't shocked into sobriety, but I was shocked into compliance."

And, in terms of timing, Jonathan feels like he was old enough to take it very, very seriously. "If it had happened 10 years earlier, I don't know if I would've learned any more."

Still, Jonathan knows his situation could be a lot worse. "I thought about it a lot that night; I could've killed somebody. That car that I hit could've been a person.

"When you drink then you drive, you're more than an alcoholic," he says. "You've decided not to care about you and the people around you."

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.