JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
In August, I was arrested for a DUI. The night I went out, I planned on going out with one of my friends, have a few drinks and try to have a good time. My plan was to drive the whole night. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of drinking that night as well. As I was heading home that night, I was pulled over and given a field sobriety test. Once I was done completing the tests, I was arrested. I had never been arrested before so once the cuffs were put on me and I was put in the back of the police car I thought to myself, "Oh man, this is for real. I made a huge mistake." After I consented to a breathalyzer test, I was notified that my license would be suspended for 30 days because of the Blood Alcohol Content I had. As I was riding to the jail, the whole time I was thinking to myself, "I just ruined my life."
After being in jail for 12 hours and paying a $2,000 bond, I was released and had to meet with the first sergeant the following day. Once I got home, I could only think of the whole incident. I broke down emotionally thinking of what my son would think of me, what was going to happen to my career and how everyone was going to judge me. Later that week, I had to meet with the group commander, squadron commander, my supervisor, element leader, lead element leader, officer in charge and assistant OIC, in full service dress.
As I waited outside for the meeting with the group commander and seeing all of my leadership, I felt as if I let every single person down and there would be no way for me to redeem myself. Once that was done, for the next month, I was completely uncertain of the outcome of the whole situation. Not knowing if the military was going to get jurisdiction or not, I went ahead and got a civilian lawyer to handle the court case in case jurisdiction stayed civilian.
I paid a total of $5,000 to a civilian lawyer upfront for a retainer and to help cover the remainder of the fees for their services and another $3,000 to be paid in monthly installments throughout the next six months. Forking over almost all my savings for one night's mistake is not what I had planned.
In September, I was notified that military received jurisdiction and I was offered an Article 15. Once I heard those words come out of the squadron commander's mouth, my stomach started turning and I was instantly heartbroken. I thought to myself that the way the Air Force and DoD is dealing with these hard times, my career was over; my life was over. These were the thoughts that went through my head until I received my punishment.
Later that month, I was notified of my punishment. I lost a stripe and had to work 30 days extra duty. I have a suspended forfeiture of pay for two months and 15 days extra duty until March 2012.
As of right now, I have a year left on my enlistment and am not sure if I will be afforded the opportunity to continue my career. I have a short amount of time to come up with a back-up plan in case I am not allowed to re-enlist.
I know everyone is sick and tired of hearing about DUI's, but this stuff is not to be taken lightly. I lost a position in my career field that is highly sought after, lost my stripe, lost the trust of every single person in my chain of command, paid more than $7,000 in fines and I am still uncertain if I will be able to re-enlist or not. To be honest, only having these consequences happen to me is, in my mind, getting off lucky. My stupid mistake could have resulted in me killing someone or even killing myself in a car accident. There isn't a way I could fathom trying to live with that on my conscience for the rest of my life.
I know I am not the only one to go out and have a few drinks, think nothing about it and get behind the wheel. Why risk everything for one night out? If you are going to go and have a few drinks, don't put yourself in my shoes. Make the right decision.