Drunk Driving Risk Not Worth the Cost

PATRICK AFB, FL -- With Labor Day fast approaching, many Airmen will be celebrating the close of another great summer on Florida's Space Coast. But with those festivities comes a responsibility to remain safe, especially with drinking and driving.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, of the 339 fatal accidents that occurred in 2004 on Labor Day, over 50 percent were alcohol related. That same year, in the state of Florida, 1,222 traffic fatalities involved the use of alcohol. Of those deaths, 27 percent were caused where a driver had a Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) of over .08.

Severe punishment awaits those who tempt fate and drive drunk. In the state of Florida if a person operates a vehicle with a BAL of .08 or above they face a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in prison for a first offense. For multiple offenses, the penalties increase drastically.

But if a person serves in the military he or she is subject to the jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and can be prosecuted for crimes that occur off base. Under Article 111 of the UCMJ, the penalties for driving drunk in Florida include up to six months confinement, a bad-conduct discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. The punishment for engaging in such behavior where a person was injured is even more severe.

Additionally, should a member get behind the wheel after a few cocktails, he or she places base driving privileges in jeopardy. AFI 31-204 mandates that the installation commander will suspend base driving privileges "pending resolution of an intoxicated driving incident which involves active duty military personnel, their family members, retired members of the military service and DoD civilian personnel."

Moreover, the commander must revoke privileges for one year if a person is convicted of drunk driving, fails to submit to a breathalyzer test, or if the commander believes that such revocation is "required to preserve public safety or the good order and discipline of military personnel."

The Air Force is concerned primarily with the safety of its troops. When you drink and drive, you are not only placing yourself at risk, you are placing the lives of others in danger. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need a designated driver, call the Airmen Against Drunk Driving program at 494-7433.

Enjoy the weekend. Enjoy it more by being smart, aware and conscientious of those around you. But above all, be sure not to drink and then drive; it's never a good combination.