SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
It’s important Airmen drive sober while operating a vehicle as it can affect more than just themselves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in three traffic deaths in the U.S. involve a drunk driver.
“There is no legal [blood alcohol content] when you’re driving in Colorado,” said Capt. Jordan Davies, Peterson-Schriever Garrison legal office chief of discharges. “You can be arrested, charged and convicted of [driving under the influence] if you have any level of alcohol in your system [that] impairs your ability to drive, it’s called a DWAI, driving while ability impaired, so you could have BAC of .05, .03, or .02 and still be arrested and convicted of DUI.”
For perspective, one drink raises the average person’s BAC to .02.
Davies said if convicted of a civilian DUI, the penalties include fines, jail time, license revocation, mandatory community service, alcohol rehabilitation classes and installing a certified ignition interlock device on a privately owned vehicle, which prompts the operator of a vehicle has to blow into a breathalyzer to start the vehicle.
Article 113 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice states operating a car, boat or airplane while intoxicated is a criminal act and carries consequences. However, Airmen cannot receive civilian criminal DUI charges and an Article 113 simultaneously.
“If you get a military DUI, your base driving privileges may be suspended or revoked and you face anything from paperwork to a court-martial depending on the circumstances.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,511 people died from drunk-driving crashes in the U.S. in 2018.
“It’s illegal, harmful to others and it is detrimental to your career,” said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Jenich, 50th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of standardization and evaluations. “Airmen should think before they drink and always have a plan.”
Jenich said the 50th SFS monitors all vehicles entering and on the installation to ensure the safety of Airmen and their families.
“We watch and observe to see if a vehicle is swerving, we monitor its speed and if there are any abnormal changes to the vehicles speed,” Jenich said. “Once we make contact with the driver, we ask a series of questions and run through different tests.”
The tests include going through the alphabet, starting at a random letter, balance tests, such as standing on one leg, walking in a straight line for nine steps and turning and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, when the officer observes the drivers eyes while asking them questions.
If the officer has determined that the driver is intoxicated, the officer will take them to the station where they will have to provide blood and urine samples to identify the drivers BAC.
In the U.S., there is an alcohol-related traffic death every 50 minutes, causing a total of $44 billion in damages every year. Davies recommends Airmen have a designated driver or use a taxi service if they plan on drinking.
“The convenience of driving yourself home after you have been drinking will never be worth the penalties that go along with getting a DUI,” Davies said. “Always have a plan before you go out drinking. The most common reason people drink and drive is they think they are OK to drive.”
For Airmen who need a ride while impaired, call Airmen Against Drunk Driving at 719-552-2233.
For Airmen struggling with substance abuse, contact the 21st Medical Group Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program at 719-556-7804.