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Putting a stop to underage drinking and DUIs
If your plans fall through and you’re unable to drive yourself home call the DADD phone at (325) 696-DADD (3233), or if you would like to volunteer to become a driver for the program call Senior Master Sgt. Mariana Sobolewski at (325) 696-4690. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Peter Thompson/ Released)
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Putting a stop to underage drinking and DUIs

Posted 10/4/2012   Updated 10/5/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Airman 1st Class Cierra Bullock
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


10/4/2012 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- "I've only had two drinks, I'm okay to drive," said an Airman after getting behind the wheel with an equally drunk passenger. Ten minutes later the Airman was pulled over and charged with driving under the influence.

Underage drinking has been the cause of many accidents and deaths among Air Force Airmen. One bad decision can ruin an Airman's career as well as put them behind bars.

When an Airman is charged with a DUI or alcohol related incident whether on or off base, it immediately goes up his or her chain of command, which then goes to the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate for further handling.

Driving under the influence includes not only alcohol, but any intoxicant, narcotic drug or other drug producing central nervous system effects--including prescription drugs.

According to Alan Nicholas, 7th Security Forces Squadron, who monitors the base's DUI numbers, there has been 16 DUIs from active-duty members at Dyess this year.

Under Article 111 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, any person who operates any vehicle while drunk, or in a reckless or wanton manner, or while impaired by a substance shall be punished as a court martial may direct. The punishment can range from getting a letter of reprimand to an Article 15 to receiving a court martial and or possibly discharged, depending on the severity of the situation. The same goes for underage drinking in which an Airman can be charged under Article 134 of the UCMJ, for dereliction of duty.

"I lost my privilege to drive on base for a year, was restricted to base for 30 days and lost a stripe," said Airman Tyler Young, 7th Civil Engineer Squadron. "Off base, I lost my license for three months, was placed on probation for a year and regularly see my probation officer. I have to be on base between midnight and 6 a.m., pay $60 a month and am prohibited from drinking alcohol until probation is over, including not going anywhere that serves alcohol besides restaurants."

A Texas DUI charge will result in one's license being suspended for three months to one year and the driver may have to pay fines of up to $2,000. The second DUI carries a possible penalty of 30 days to one year in jail as well as is a fine of up to $4,000. Additionally offenders may have their license suspended for a time period of six months to one year.

A new program was recently launched on base called the DADD program (Dyess Against Drunk Driving). The program is for Airmen who are out in town and are unable to drive themselves for alcohol related reasons. Volunteers for the DADD phone take down the location of the caller, pick them up and return them to their residence safely. Each caller remains anonymous. Since the DADD program has launched, 144 Airmen have been saved from receiving a DUI and putting their own or anyone else's life at risk.

Receiving a DUI can change your life. It can ruin your career and prevent you from having a successful future.

"I regret getting a DUI, I lost my chance at BTZ, lost a stripe and got a deduction in pay," Young said. "I really could have ruined my Air Force career. However, this has been a learning experience for me; I'm now taking college classes, planning my financial future and keeping track of everything I do, pretty much moving forward in my life."

Peer pressure is one of the biggest reasons why Airmen in today's Air Force are responsible for underage drinking. An Airman who's of age may persuade the underage Airmen to drink, which can end up ruining that Airman's career if something were to happen.

"From ruining your career to paying thousands of dollars in fines, there are just so many consequences. It's not worth it. Don't drink underage and don't drink and drive," Young said.

A good guideline for all Airmen to follow is the "zero-zero-one-three" approach. This means zero drinks if you're driving, zero drinks if you're underage, no more than one drink an hour and no more than three drinks a night. Having a reliable wingman is another approach.

To prevent underage drinking and DUIs on base Airmen simply need to be good wingmen, if you see an Airman about to get behind the wheel knowing he is intoxicated or if you see an underage Airman drinking, the few minutes you take to go help that Airman could save their career as well as their life.

If your plans fall through and you're unable to drive yourself home call the DADD phone at (325) 696-DADD (3233), or if you would like to volunteer for the program email DADD@dyess.af.mil or contact your group representative.



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