DUIs can happen to anyone; make the right

Have you ever had one of those days that felt like the world came to a screeching halt? For me, that day was Jan. 24.

I was apprehended for driving under the influence of alcohol. Before this, I was considered one of the top performers in my squadron, but getting a DUI has made all of my accomplishments null-and-void. The official punishment for a DUI can be swift, but the indirect punishment is prolonged because of the stigma attached.
DUIs can happen to anyone consuming alcohol at any given time, even if it is their first time getting behind the wheel. You can be the very best performer in your squadron and still lose all your credibility after one night of poor decisions. They are not limited to substandard individuals, people with alcohol problems or people under 26.

I have numerous awards and decorations including three achievement medals, Airman Leadership School distinguished graduate, Senior Airman below-the-zone and Airman of the Quarter; now, it all means nothing.

I urge everyone reading this to make the right choice; have a plan, and stick to it.
Your commander has a variety of options when it comes to punishment.

First, he or she must decide whether to court-martial or use non-judiciapunishment. A court-martial can lead to more severe actions. I was punished under Article 15. I was reduced from E-5 to E-4, my wages were garnished by $1,063 a month for two months, I received 14 days of extra duty, a UIF and I was reprimanded. Outside of the Article 15, I also lost a great assignment, lost my driving privileges for one year, got a referral EPR rating and a blemish to my military service record. It could take me a year or longer to recover from everything, but the stigma could last my whole career.

Everyone has been briefed on DUIs before. We all say that it won’t happen to us, but it still happens. Everyone is able to prevent this by watching out for their friends, making legitimate plans and setting limits when they’re drinking. Don’t get overconfident and let alcohol make decisions for you. Take a step back, asses your situation and make the right choice.

Editor’s note: The author of this commentary asked to remain annonymous. In addition to the author’s punishment, another Air Force NCO was convicted of DUI and reckless driving this week. He was sentenced to reduction to E-4, 50 days confinement, 30 days hard labor and 2/3 forfeiture of pay for two months.