Drinking and driving ruins lives, careers: one man’s story

Airman 1st Class
Steven Sanchez
Maintenance Squadron

We all know the severe consequences of drinking and driving. No one is an exception, even if you think, “it would never happen to me.”

Ignorance should not take precedence over your decision. It’s not only your life you jeopardize, but the life of others. Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way. I let down everyone in my squadron, my first shirt, my commander and myself. I ruined my career. And most importantly, I let down my parents
Anyone can make a mistake, and it happened that my one mistake would crucially affect my life. I just didn’t know it yet.

It was late one Friday night, and I agreed to meet some people at a local bar in Landstuhl. I made my first mistake, which was driving there in my own vehicle. My plan was that if I started drinking, I would find another way home. I did drink. At midnight, my friends went home. I stayed. I knew I should stop drinking to sober up, but I was having fun. I was too naïve to recognize the trap I was setting.

I was driving back to my apartment at 2 a.m. just past Vogelweh when I was pulled over. The officer smelled alcohol on my breath and asked me to take a sobriety test. I realized what I had done and what an irresponsible decision I made.
That whole night seemed like a nightmare. I had to do all the sobriety tests you see in movies. They towed my vehicle and arrested me after I tested over the limit. I was taken to the Polizei station to get blood drawn and another sobriety test. Then, I was taken to Vogelweh police station for another breathalyzer test and to be incarcerated until my supervisor and first shirt came to pick me up. By this time, it was 6 a.m. I was exhausted and worried. I went to work at 9 a.m. with no rest.

I had to explain to everyone, the other Airmen, the sergeants and senior NCOs what I did and why. The embarrassment and shame overwhelmed me and I deserved every bit of it.

I am an Airman 1st Class again after being a senior airman for two years, making Below the Zone, only to get it taken away and start over. I had 45 days of extra duty, no days off working 12-hour days. I had a nice third-floor studio apartment, which is gone now, and I have moved back into the dorms. I lost my driving privileges for a year. It is embarrassing and frustrating being driven here and there and depending on others. My next Enlisted Performance Report will reflect poorly due to this and it will affect my promotions. I have attended an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment class and numerous Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

I hope you understand from this that drinking and driving can ruin everything you have accomplished. I don’t know what the future holds. But, I know one thing is for certain: I will never drink and drive again and I hope you understand and do not make the same decision I made.