Vail Daily letter: Is it really worth it?
Avon, CO Colorado
This is a letter about something that happened to me during a search-and-rescue conference in Juneau, Alaska, a few months ago. I was on the most epic trip of my life, a summerlong sea-kayaking trip from Olympia, Wash., to Skagway, Alaska, that ended last month.
During a side trip to that search-and-rescue conference in Juneau, I was loaned a car for my short stay. After a long day in the field, several of us headed out, and I received congratulations for my accomplishment. Afterward, I returned to the parking lot, with signs warning of no overnight parking, and I decided to make a very dumb decision and headed the mile out of town anyway.
“You’re being arrested for DUI,” blurted the officer. What? The only thing I’ve ever been pulled over for was a speeding ticket 18 years ago. Oh, no – now what’s going to happen?
The criminal charges were dismissed, but the awful experience is something I will never forget, and it’s a strong reminder about what can happen when we decide to get behind the wheel. This can happen to anyone, and yes, it can happen to you, too. All it takes is a holiday party or dinner get-together that can leave us unable to safely drive. An animal running across the road, impaired thought and overreaction could easily leave someone paralyzed for the rest of their life or worse.
During a stop at a small outpost in British Columbia, fliers were posted around town from a well-respected tribal leader recently charged with DUI after a small community get-together. My two safety- and property-inspection jobs over the past decade have taken me around Colorado, and on a regular basis, I see it all too often – even professionals in suits and ladies in their 60s on the side of the road struggling to perform a sobriety test.
I’m not writing this because I have to but because I want to. I’ve shared this ordeal I’ll never want to repeat many times, periodically hearing similar stories from others. It’s wiped out their savings, put them in debt and left a black mark on their records that will be with them for the rest of their lives.
All the taxi rides in the world will cost a fraction of what a DUI arrest will. Next time you’re in a situation where you’ve had a little too much, ask yourself, Is it really worth it? There’s no excuse in the world to risk it all.