Commentary

June 22, 2012

DUI, how it changed my life

Commentary by Staff Sgt. Antwoin Prater
56th Communications Squadron

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 I’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 commander’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 wasn’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 wouldn’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 wasn’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, I’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 else’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.

These staged photos simulate a DUI arrest.




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