Gina Kirschenheiter got emotional on Tuesday’s The Real Housewives of Orange County season 14 premiere as she recounted the circumstances that led to her February arrest in connection with driving under the influence.
The 35-year-old Long Island native — who is mother to daughter Sienna, 4, and sons Nicholas, 6, and Luca, 3 — was stopped for a traffic violation in the early hours of Feb. 1 in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, an Orange County Sheriff’s Department told PEOPLE at the time.
As she explained on Tuesday’s episode of the Bravo show, she had been drinking wine at a local mom shopping event prior to getting into the car —and originally thought police were just going to give her a ticket when she was pulled over.
However, Kirschenheiter said when cops saw that a passenger in her car was holding an alcoholic beverage, a sobriety test was immediately administered.
“I did all the tests, and then he gave me the breathalyzer and it wasn’t registering,” Kirschenheiter said. “So he arrested me.”
Kirschenheiter was released from jail at noon later that day. On RHOC, she called being behind bars “the worst part.”
“It’s so scary,” Kirschenheiter said. “The cells, they’re clear walls. And the first thing that I [saw] when I walk in [was] this man with his hands cupped behind his back, smashing his face against the glass. Over and over and over again. I [didn’t] know if I was going to be in a cell with other crazy men like that. You just don’t know!”
“I’m so bummed that I made such a stupid friggin’ decision to get int he damn car and drive that night,” she added. “I wanted to go home. I got in the car, I should never have driven. … It’s my worst defining moment, ever.”
For support on Tuesday’s RHOC, Kirschenheiter turned to her father Gino and fellow Housewife Emily Simpson.
“I know I disappointed you,” she told her dad via FaceTime, tearing up. “I want my kids to not remember what I did wrong, but what I did about it after I did that thing wrong.”
Gino stood by his daughter. “You’ll never disappoint me. You’re a person who always holds yourself accountable. You get knocked down but I’ve never seen you refuse to get up,” he told his daughter. “You’re the best mom that I know, and your kids love you to death.”
Simpson, on the other hand, showed Kirschenheiter a little tough love.
“It was a dumb thing to do,” Simpson said, noting Kirschenheiter’s recent divorce. “You’re lucky that it didn’t end up being a custody issue. That is ammo.”
“You were very lucky that nothing happened that night. No one was hurt, no one was injured,” Simpson continued. “And going forward, you’re not going to put yourself in the situation where you were endanger anyone else.”
She also questioned whether Kirschenheiter knew how much she drank at the event before getting behind the wheel.
“I was drinking wine throughout the night,” Kirschenheiter said. “It’s this kind of thing where you have this little cup and someone will come over and pour a little more in.”
Simpson was concerned.
“Gina has been drinking more lately,” Simpson told audiences. “I think Gina’s divorce is more difficult than she’s letting on. I think Gina internalizes a lot of things, and that just manifests itself in depression and drinking and not making smart decisions.”
“I know that you’re a good person and good mom and you’re a good person who made a bad choice,” she told Kirschenheiter. “And I love you.”
But still, as a lawyer, Simpson understood the consequences that come with getting a DUI.
“From a legal perspective, a DUI, not a good thing,” Simpson said in confession to RHOC audiences. “You can get your license taken away, it can affect your job. Your always going to be known as someone who has gotten a DUI, which means you’re a heavy drinker who makes bad decisions.”
A week after her DUI, she was pulled over for using her phone while driving and given a $160 fine, according to court documents obtained by The Blast in February.
Then, in June, her estranged husband Matthew Kirschenheiter was arrested after an alleged domestic abuse situation, court documents obtained by The Blast showed. He has since been ordered to stay 100 yards away from her and their children.
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.