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NEWS | March 19, 2010

The cost of a DUI

By Staff Sgt. Kevin Martin 779th Surgical Operations Squadron

One night, I attended a party at a friend's house. After having what I thought was a couple of drinks, I decided to drive home. More than half way home, I sped up to make a yellow light and the police pulled me over. I thought that I was fine getting through the sobriety test, and I was until the very last part. They told me to say a part of the alphabet backwards. At that point, I knew I was going to fail because I could not say it backwards when I was sober. Needless to say, I could not perform this task so I was taken to jail. This was the start of the most difficult experience of my life.

I spent the night in jail and waited nine hours for my first shirt and superintendent to come and pick me up. They took me home to pick up my blues because my entire chain of command and I had to report to the wing commander's office. After spending about an hour getting yelled at by most of those in my chain, I left out of there feeling as low as I have ever felt and I knew this was only the beginning. I had to wait a month to attend my court hearing. My command wanted to wait and see what type of punishment I received off base before they proceeded with theirs.

The punishment I received off-base included: car impounded for 30 days ($800), license suspended for 90 days ($220), a fine ($2000), mandatory drug and alcohol counseling ($200), five days house arrest ($200) and I also had to get SR-22 insurance which doubled my payments.
Once that was over, I then had to go and face the consequences on base with my command. I received a letter of reprimand, unfavorable information file, referral enlisted performance review, and lost my driving privileges on base for one year. Additionally, I had to get up every morning at 6 a.m. and change the sign that counted the number of days since our last DUI.

Since my actions were unbecoming of an NCO, I also had to show up to work as a senior airman. This was probably the hardest part of my entire punishment. People who I had once supervised and trained now out-ranked me; however, I knew that I had to stand up and face the consequences of my actions. Although my punishment was warranted, my chain of command was very supportive. They understood that this was an isolated incident. Had I not drank and drove I would not have been in this situation.

It's interesting how one bad choice can affect you for the rest of your life. Because of my choice I had to sit out of school a semester to have two jobs so I could maintain myself financially. I had to depend on others for rides to get me everywhere for 90 days off-base and anywhere I needed to go on-base for a whole year. Since I was demoted, I had to study and earn my stripe back, but once I made it, I was forced to retrain because of my date of rank. Because of this, I had to put my graduate degree and commissioning intent on hold. If I don't get selected for a commission, then testing for the next ranks will be even harder for me because of my referral EPR.

This has been difficult to get through, but I am grateful that I did not kill myself or anyone else. Hopefully, someone can learn from my mistake and not drink and drive!