National Impaired Driving Prevention Month and the holiday season

  • Published
  • By Airman Jackson Haddon
Each year Airmen are charged with driving under the influence for drinking and driving. It’s serious problem that not only affects the mission but also the career of the Airmen. One DUI can limit Permanent Change of Station abilities and potentially lead to not being able to re-enlist.

To help generate more awareness surrounding the topic of DUI’s, the month of December has been dedicated to preventing impaired driving.

“It’s a month where we’re trying to increase awareness of the education of DUI’s,” said Capt. Caleb Shepard, 97th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health element chief. “I think education is the most important thing. Airmen should know what is considered healthy drinking and what could prevent you from getting in trouble. We’re not telling Airmen that they can’t drink, just to do it responsibly and prevent any harm to themselves or others.”

Prevention can go a long way, it can save someone from a night in jail or worse.

“Oklahoma has a Driving While Impaired law,” said Capt. Karen Harmon, 97th MDOS Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager. “Which means you can get arrested if your blood alcohol limit is a 0.040-0.070. A 0.080 and over is a DUI, but for a military member the consequences are going to be just the same. You’re still going to end up in jail, probably going to lose a stripe, might get an Article 15, you might not be able to drive on base, you might lose some pay as well. The consequences for a military member are the same for a DWI or a DUI.”

With the holiday season right around the corner, Airmen who plan to drink need to have a plan to make sure they don’t find themselves in a very unfortunate situation.

“Have a plan for a designated driver,” said Harmon. “Make sure you eat before you drink, alternate a non-alcoholic drink with an alcoholic drink.” For Airmen who’s plans fall through, call Airmen Against Drunk Driving or a fellow Wingman to get home safely.

Having a plan is one factor that can help prevent an incident, but so can stress management.

“From what I’ve seen, it’s a lot of stress and the member not handling stress affectively that can lead to drinking,” said Shepard. “Have good coping skills. We’re in the military and some jobs can be stressful, so it’s important to know how to cope effectively.”

With stress and drinking having some relation, the Air Force created the ADAPT program to help members struggling with a problem find other ways to cope and get back on their feet. Although going through ADAPT can be one of the penalties for a DUI, they are not solely here as a consequence.

“ADAPT is here to help,” said Harmon. “We are not disciplinary. We are treatment, prevention and are returning people to duty. Last year, we had a 100% return to duty rate. So we are about getting people back on track with their careers and moving forward.”

All Airmen should keep their careers on track by drinking responsibly and having a plan. If that plan falls through, Airmen can utilize AADD by calling 481-RIDE. For more information contact Mental Health at (580) 481-5376.