One night of carelessness is all it takes to forever change the course of your life. Just one mistake can shatter dreams and take lives.
When I was charged with a DUI on St. Patrick’s day of 2012 it cost me a lot. Let me first tell you nobody is ever proud to make a call to his parents asking them to come pick him up from jail. It was without a doubt the most embarrassed I have ever been in my life.
The monetary damage that it does to one’s bank account can be just the tip of the iceberg. When I got my DUI I was lucky that nobody was hurt. I walked away from the incident with a $500 fine, 90 days with no driver’s license, 15 months probation, 12 months of having an interlock breath system in my car at $80 a month, 80 hours community service, court costs and three years of license surcharges of $2,000 to pay off. I went to jail for the night, and paid big financial penalties, and that’s sadly the best case scenario for a DUI.
I have known two women in my life who were not so lucky. The first of these women had that oh so familiar cliche of “her whole life ahead of her.” One fateful night in San Antonio permanently altered her future.
My friend had graduated near the top of her high school class, earning a scholarship to Arizona State University. The night before she was to leave we had a going away party for her. The phone call I awoke to the next day was the worst of my life.
My friend had been driving home late from the party, crossed over to the opposite lane and collided with a truck. She was thrown from the vehicle and had minor injuries. The driver of the truck was dead.
Instead of heading off to college, my friend ended up heading off to prison after a long legal process that hurt her family financially and emotionally. To this day she still cries around the holidays. Knowing she took someone’s family member away from them is just too much for her.
I actually met the second woman years after her ordeal. Similar story, similar tragic result. This other friend lived in Ohio and one night after drinking she collided with another vehicle. The man she injured didn’t die immediately; he remained in a vegetative state for years.
When I met her she told me her story of being in prison in Ohio for more than a year, of the rift it caused between her and her father with whom she had been very close. When the man she hit was removed from life support it reopened all the pain she had inside her.
These two women were good people. They made one mistake and it cost them so much from their lives. The pain they live with from knowing somebody is dead because of their actions haunts them daily.
Even knowing their stories, I still went out the night I got my DUI drinking and driving like it was no big deal. I had gotten comfortable being stupid and didn’t think about what is at stake every time you drive impaired. I know a lot of people drink and drive nightly, thinking nothing of it. What I want you to take away from this is that it only takes one night to change the course of your life forever.
I’ve learned my lesson the hard way, I hope that those of you who read this will think not only of your bank accounts, but the fact that drinking and driving is gambling with your life and the lives of others. No matter how many times you get away with it, it can only take one time for your entire world to change for the worse.
Jordan Moss is a sophomore journalism major from San Antonio.