Making the right choices -- What happens after a DUI?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alvin Gordon
  • 71st Medical Operations Squadron
June 21, I was attending Airman Leadership School at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, preparing to become a staff sergeant and a supervisor. I have intentions of making the Air Force a career and eventually would like to retire.

Now, my dreams are in jeopardy due to what could have been a fatal error in judgment.

After a three-hour long study session, some of my classmates and I drank a few shots of whisky. Two hours prior to going out for the night, I went to my hotel room, ate and showered.

Myth: Eating food soaks up the alcohol in your stomach before it enters your blood.

Truth: The amount of food you eat has absolutely zero effect on your Blood Alcohol Content.

Then I and a couple of my classmates went out to a local bar. While there I had two more mixed drinks, my last an hour before leaving. I felt that I was "good" to drive myself and classmates to the home of a young lady we met that night.

When I pulled into the woman's driveway, an Oklahoma highway patrolman turned on his patrol lights.

He said that I had been swerving, and I was given a field sobriety test, which I failed.

I refused to blow into the Breathalyzer, was placed under arrest, and taken to the police station. What I didn't know was by refusing the Breathalyzer, my driver's license was immediately suspended for six months in the state of Oklahoma.

This was just the beginning of my problems.

If you haven't been to jail -- which I never had -- let me paint the picture for you. You are finger printed, your picture is taken, and you have to change out of your clothes into an orange jump suit.

Worst of all, you are placed in a cell with no bed for the first eight hours. You have to lie on the cold concrete floor. There's no clock on the wall, so you have no idea what time it is, or how much longer you have to wait.

No one is allowed to talk to you or come and pick you up for twelve hours.

Breakfast was something out of a prison movie. I didn't know what it was, and I didn't eat it.

We all know the Air Force policy of 0-0-1-3: zero underage drinking, zero drinking and driving incident's, one drink an hour, and no more than three drinks per evening.

A standard drink is one 12-ounce beer with 5 percent alcohol by volume, one 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor, or one 5-ounce glass of wine.

Did you know one Long Island Iced Tea has already broken the 0-0-1-3 policy? Just one Long Island can have up to five standard drinks.

I learned that from the Mental Health counselors during my Alcohol Brief Counseling education after I my arrest.

Attending ABC is just one of the things I had to do since being arrested, and I wish someone had told me what else I stood to lose by driving under the influence.

The state of Oklahoma took my driving privileges away for six months. I can't drive on base for a year. I lost a stripe and have another one on suspension. I have lost pay due to my lower rank. I have an Unfavorable Information File, and I lost my permanent-change-of-station orders.

I went Mental Health to see if I needed to enter Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Training. My first sergeant had to make a three-and-a-half hour drive one way to come pick me up and bring me back.

My commander and supervisor had to get up on their day off and meet me when I returned to Vance.

I had to tell my parents. My roommate drives me to work and takes me home every day.

I have always been proud of my independence and self-sufficiency. This has been the hardest time of my life. I have to ask others for rides. I wish I had words to describe the shame and disappointment I felt in myself the first time I put on my blues and airman battle uniform with airman 1st class stripes again.

I was surprised that I had to prepare myself to return to work. Some people treated me the same and were very supportive, while others wouldn't even look in my direction.

My mere presence startled someone the other day while walking down the hallway. People distance themselves from me like I have a disease, as if they feel my bad vibes will rub off on them.

It hurts to have people treat you this way.

The misery I suffer is all due to my actions. I share my story with you, in hopes that you won't make the mistake that I did.

I am not a "regular drinker." I don't drink every day. I don't keep alcohol in my home, and I don't look forward to the weekend so I can drink and party.

I am a social drinker. I drink when I'm at sporting events, bars and the occasional get-together with friends.

I thought that because I don't drink every day, that I was not going to be arrested for DUI. I was dead wrong, and if you think that because you are a social drinker that you can't be arrested - you are dead wrong too.

I urge you to follow the Air Force's 0-0-1-3 policy. Have a plan and backup plan in case your first plan falls through. Or better yet, don't drink at all.

Whatever you do -- don't repeat my mistake.