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To Drive or Not to Drive

Posted 5/20/2010   Updated 5/20/2010 Email story   Print story


by 1st Lt. Konrad Osa and Staff Sgt. Samantha Harvey
Electronic Systems Center Legal Office

5/20/2010 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.  -- To drive or not to drive? Don't let that be the question. As the summer months approach, with barbeques and pool parties, the Hanscom legal office wants to remind everyone how important it is to consume alcohol safely.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 32 people in the United States die every day due to vehicle crashes involving alcohol. This amounts to one death every 45 minutes. Before consuming alcohol, every Airman should plan how he or she is going to return home. Airmen who choose to drink and drive run the risk of causing serious injury or death to themselves and others.

Additionally, if an Airman manages to survive driving drunk, he or she can still face criminal, civil and administrative actions. Airmen are held accountable for their actions both on and off base. A single driving under the influence, or DUI, ticket can severally damage an airman's military career and future. DUIs have a negative effect on a member's unit and on the Air Force mission. A person can be charged with a DUI if they are over the state's legal blood alcohol limit. Even if a person is under the state limit and the court feels that the member was too impaired to operate a vehicle, a DUI ticket can still be issued. Airmen should not try to guess as to whether they are under or over the limit.

During fiscal year 2009, there were 6,024 counts of alcohol related misconduct within the Air Force, and 1,576 of these were DUIs. Members who are found driving under the influence may be charged with a violation of Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 111. Should drunken driving result in personal injury, Airmen face a dishonorable discharge and confinement for 18 months, among other punishments. If no one is injured, Airmen still face a bad conduct discharge and six months confinement and other punishments. Furthermore, other UCMJ violations may also be implicated if, for example, the driver was underage or there was property damage.

The Hanscom legal office hopes all Airmen make the positive, mature decision to use a designated driver or other safe way to return home after consuming alcohol.

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