Sober was smarter and safer
By Master Sgt. Derek L. Miller, 167th Airlift Wing
/ Published October 09, 2012
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- As a student at West Virginia University I was very familiar with late nights, bar crawls and game day at Mountaineer Field. During my freshman year there I was required to take an orientation class aimed at helping students understand college life and how to adjust to it. The one thing I remember most about that class is a statement in the first chapter: During college football season, approximately 1 percent of U.S. alcohol consumption takes place in Morgantown, W.Va. I'm not sure where that fact came from, but I know it raised my eyebrows.
Just after Thanksgiving break in my senior year, I worked part time at the mall for the upcoming holiday season. If you've worked in retail during the holidays, you know how bad the hours can be. I'd worked a couple of weeks and was still learning the job and the people. After closing one night, a couple of my co-workers asked if I wanted to grab a drink with them. My initial reaction was, "Sure, I could use one after this day," but I declined and explained that I was really tired and needed to get home. I had a 9-month-old baby boy at home; I wanted to see him and give him a kiss good night before heading to bed.
On my way home I drove up on the mother of all DUI check points. It was like an assembly line, complete with a passenger bus that was already half full of people waiting to make the ride to the regional jail more than 100 miles away.
As I pulled into the parking lot of the Health Sciences Building - already full of city, county, state and university police cars -- I couldn't help but feel a bit nervous. That's probably why I stalled my Jeep while trying to pull up to the first officer who attempted to make small talk with me while I waited for an opening in the assembly line ahead.
I pulled up to the group of officers and allowed them to look around the vehicle while I answered questions of the officer at my window. Officer: "Have you been drinking tonight?" Me: "No, sir. I'm on my way home from work." Officer: "You sure about that answer?" Me: (After pausing a couple seconds) "Umm yes, sir." Officer: "Let's find out."
He gave me instructions on how to blow into the little tube. I leaned forward and exhaled until I didn't have any breath left. After a few seconds, that felt more like minutes, the officer said, "Umm ... you were right. Have a good night, son."
As I drove the last two miles home, I couldn't help but be thankful for the decision I'd made just a half-hour before. I was almost home. I was going to kiss my baby boy good night, I wasn't going to have to make any bad phone calls and I wasn't going to have to explain a DUI to my supervisor at the base when I went in for drill.
Making the right decisions feels good and we should all be proud of ourselves when we do make the right decisions. I encourage you to make the right decision and support those around you who do the same.