On Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, a few friends and I attended an Arizona Cardinals game. Before the game started, I had a few beers at a restaurant near the stadium. After the game, we went to a nightclub for more drinks.
After leaving the night club, my friends asked me if I was good enough to drive. They did their part, but I felt fine. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence.
The consequences Iâ€™ve suffered since then should be a wake-up call for all Airmen regardless of rank. Not only did I have to see the disappointment in my commanderâ€™s face, but he and I, along with my supervisor, had to explain to the wing commander why my actions were a disgrace to the Air Force.
Surprisingly, there wasnâ€™t any yelling or stern looks. It was worse. The wing commander showed me a picture of his family and told me how one of his sons in that picture is no longer alive because of a drunk driver. Brig. Gen. JD Harris told me he expected better of me, especially since I was an NCO.
From there, I received an Article 15 and a reduction in rank. When you get used to living with a certain income for so long, losing $600 every month is extremely painful.
I also received a referral EPR with a 3 rating and was put on a control roster. I had my driving privileges revoked on base for a year and had to update the DUI signs at each base gate by 7 every morning, including weekends and holidays. Normally, that wouldnâ€™t be so bad because there tends to be a few DUIs on Luke Air Force Base, but the streak for no DUIs lasted 80 days before someone took my place.
In addition to those severe consequences, I became an inconvenience to my friends and coworkers. Since I wasnâ€™t allowed to drive, they had to drive me around. My commander referred me to ADAPT, which was a hassle at work because I had to attend sessions, and my coworkers had to cover for me. It was a fast downfall. It felt like the Air Force exit door was right in front of me.
Since my DUI was handled by the base authorities instead of civilian, I was lucky in a sense. I know people who have spent some time at the infamous Tent City here in Arizona with more than $3,000 in fines. The civilian courts made them install a breathalyzer in their cars, which cost more than $1,000 a year. They also had to attend classes, which set them back another $700.
All in all, Iâ€™m very fortunate to still be in the Air Force. While every situation may be handled slightly different, the end results are the same. It can ruin your life, someone elseâ€™s life and cause a tremendous amount of suffering financially and emotionally. I will never drink and drive again. I will not scoff at Air Force policy, and I hope anyone who reads this will do the same.