Do you leave your life to maybe or definitely?

  • Published
  • By Daniel Vannier
  • 509th Communications Squadron
Getting right to the point, we had two DUIs last week by members of this base.

There's nothing I can say that you haven't already heard time and time again. Nevertheless, I will digress a bit. It saddens me, and others, to see careers impacted permanently for what amounted to a few hours of fun! Sharp troops losing line numbers for promotions they worked hard and long for by studying and preparing.

The potential for tragedy goes well beyond a lost promotion when it comes to drunk or impaired driving. People get hurt, maimed, or even killed. All too often, the injuries are to the innocent who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I believe this is why the penalties have to be stiff - a deterrent in an effort to prevent senseless tragedy.

Even if you don't believe there is an omniscient entity watching all of us, take a moment to think hypothetically "what if there was?" I personally think that entity would be very disappointed in how foolish many are.

For young folks it's often hard to think in advance about the consequences of actions. That's often just nature in action. Cause and effect, and even potential effect, aren't always foremost on many people's minds. Instincts can be overridden by intellect.

"If I go get plastered, don't have a plan to get home, hop in my car, odds are I can make it home." Answer: MAYBE?

"Will I have to live with serious consequences for the rest of my life? Answer: MAYBE?

Even if you are just a "social drinker" and have a few drinks just to take the edge off. Let's say you feel just dandy to drive. Someone else hits you, and you're completely not at fault based on your excellent driving skills and adherence to the rules of the road.

Answer: A police officer arrives at the accident site. The officer smells alcohol on your breath. "Sir/Ma'am, how much have you had to drink tonight?" "I dunno, 2 or 3 drinks MAYBE?"

Will you pass the ensuing field sobriety test? Answer: MAYBE?

Is your blood alcohol content over the legal limit? Answer: MAYBE?

Do you know and understand your rights? Answer: MAYBE?

Is your car going to be impounded with a very expensive towing and storage fee? Answer: MAYBE?

Are you going to be cuffed and transported to a police station? Answer: MAYBE?

Will the base be notified, "Hey we have one of yours in custody on suspicion of drunk driving. We've booked and processed them. Please send someone to pick them up.

Answer given by person receiving the phone call: MAYBE?

Will the ride home be the most uncomfortable and seemingly longest trip of your life without a single word uttered? Answer: MAYBE?

Will you be mortified and incredible embarrassment, shame, and possibly fear like you've never felt before in your life? Answer: MAYBE.

Will the commander and first sergeant be notified regardless of the time of night? Answer: MAYBE?

Will you be reporting to the wing commander in full service dress to have an initial discussion in which you will feel that you have very little to no input? Answer: MAYBE?

Will you lose rank; lose a line number; forfeit pay and allowances; be incarcerated; lose driving privileges; be fined and have to spend thousands of dollars in legal and attorney's fees; be court-ordered or directed to attend classes with a group of offenders; have a permanent mark on your record; lose an entire career? Answer: MAYBE?

Will you have to face the families of those who have perhaps lost a loved one because of your actions? Answer: MAYBE?

Will everyone look at you differently, deal with you differently, or will you just feel like that everywhere you go? Answer: MAYBE?

During the past 30 years, these are just some of things I've heard, or experienced as a former cop. I've supervised a few and have seen friends and colleagues go through it, and yet I still can't seem to get "used" to it.

The above is not an all-inclusive list, and there are others, though none of them sound very enjoyable to me. In fact, I find them all to be a good reason for having a plan and sticking to it.

So I ask with the utmost humility, do you DEFINITELY want to have control of your destiny or just MAYBE?

It's a personal question, and one you must answer for yourself. If you choose the wrong answer, other individuals will DEFINITELY take control of your destiny, and your life for a long time. Much worse you can be injured, maimed or killed, or cause someone else to be.

While all of the above consequence may soften over time, your own conscience will punish you for a lot longer.

THINK, please.