My Turn: Will anyone else learn from my mistake?

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2001

After nine months of being away from home for my first year at college, I was more than ready to come back to Juneau for the summer. I missed my friends, family and even Juneau. With no school to worry about, a good job to go to every day and numerous people to spend time and catch up with, the summer was certainly a promising one. That was all so true when I came back to town. However, on May 27, the birthday of one of my good friends, one decision that I made put a pretty severe crimp in my summer's possibilities and the near future in general.

The fact that I am under 21 years of age and I was drinking alcohol does not by any means make me unique. I think that fact is fairly widely known and accepted. What makes me unique, now, is the drunken driving charge that now exists on my record. On the aforementioned, I decided, after being at a friend's party after work, that I would rather sleep at home. Anyone who was awake when I left that house downtown, more than 10 miles from my home, will tell you that I was in no condition to drive. In fact, my friends, doing what they thought was enough to keep me from driving, had taken my keys. That didn't stop me, as I was able, after much searching, to find keys to my best friend's car. Not once did it cross my mind that I shouldn't be driving.

Looking back on that whole event, this is one of the things that scares me most. To make a long story short, I didn't make it home. I fell asleep and wrecked my best friend's car. Before I really had a good grasp on what was happening to me, there were police on the scene. I took a breathalyzer, and failed just about every sobriety test they threw my way. Yet, I don't believe the tears of sudden realization started to flow until I was placed in handcuffs and the cop was putting me into the back of his squad car, saying, "Watch your head." I was a criminal.

From that moment on, my life has been different. Juneau is small enough that it took only a day or two for virtually everyone I knew to find out about my incident. Being 19 years old, my name appeared in the police blotter. That snippet from the Empire now resides in my wallet as a constant reminder to me.

In court, in front of a judge that I had known since I was little, I felt two inches tall. A single poor decision had turned my life upside down. The judge told me he hoped I had learned and he hoped that I'd talk to my friends. He hoped what was happening to me would serve as a deterrent not only to me but also to my friends. The only words I said were, "Yes, your Honor." I did not know what else to say. I was at a loss. Three days in jail only further drove the message home that I never again want to be in a position in anyway similar to this one. The mandatory alcohol classes I attended opened my eyes to the sad world of alcoholism and addiction. I didn't belong there. I don't belong there. But I was there.

All things considered, I am one of the luckiest people alive. The only thing I injured besides the totaled car, which I now own as a form of restitution, was a mailbox. My jail time and alcohol classes are over and done with. My best friend whose car I wrecked has not disowned me and in fact is still my best friend. Due to my driver's license being suspended, I'm closer than ever to another one of my life-long buddies. Life will go on, and that was something I had to realize rather quickly. I do worry, though. As of yet I am not sure that what happened to me was a deterrent to anyone but myself. Thus, it is with hope that I write this column, hope that my words ring true with at least a few. Second chances only come around once. I am now in the middle of mine. An idol of mine once said, "You can't undo the past ... but you can certainly not repeat it." I won't.

Chester Carson is a 2000 graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School.



Page not found | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper

Page not found

We're sorry, but the page you were seeking does not exist. It may have been moved or expired.  Perhaps our search engine can help. 

 

CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

X