News>Commentary - Diamond Notes: think before you drink
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Elizabeth Staub, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, takes keys from Airman 1st Class Rachel Macios, 27 SOMXS, to illustrate the wingman concept at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Oct. 25, 2012. First sergeants are an excellent reprisal-free resource to call upon when designated driver plans fall through. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)
Diamond Notes is a monthly column from the 27th Special Operations Wing's First Sergeants. The First Sergeant is a special leadership position held by Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. They report directly to the commander as his or her adviser concerning the enlisted force. He or she is responsible for morale, welfare and conduct of all enlisted members in the unit. (U.S. Air Force graphic/1st Lt. Stephanie Schonberger)
Commentary by Master Sgt. Elizabeth Staub
27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron
10/26/2012 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Diamond Notes is a monthly column from the 27th Special Operations Wing's First Sergeants. The First Sergeant is a special leadership position held by Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. They report directly to the commander as his or her adviser concerning the enlisted force. He or she is responsible for morale, welfare and conduct of all enlisted members in the unit.
The phone rings at 3 a.m. when a sergeant answers their phone to hear, "First Sergeant, this call is to notify you that one of your Airmen has been arrested for driving while intoxicated in the local area. The individual was pulled over and had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit."
Did you know there have been more than 20 drinking and driving incidents within the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., this year alone? Drinking and driving is a demon that continues to torment society as a whole.
As an Airman in the U.S. Air Force, the implications of driving drunk can be more devastating. There is the potential for serious injury or death to the driver or innocent passengers and civilians. Even when accidents are not involved, the individuals are often separated from the military directly or indirectly due to loss of rank and high year of tenure rules.
The BAC for driving under the influence for those 21 and older is .08 percent. For those under 21, the law is even stricter. In addition, in the state of New Mexico, if you refuse a chemical test, you will be subject to a fine or automatic license suspension.
If you are arrested for drinking and driving do you know the ramifications?
As a military member, the wing commander could ask for jurisdiction through the legal office. This has been a common occurrence in the past. However, due to the growing number of DWIs that have occurred within the Cannon community, more of these cases are likely to stay prosecuted by civilian authorities.
New Mexico has strict laws for drunk driving and when an individual drinks and drives in the local area, they risk their freedom, finances and future.
The first time one receives a DWI in New Mexico, they will receive a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. They will be ordered to attend a DWI school and participate in a driver's rehabilitation program for alcohol. They will be placed in an alcohol screening program at their own expense and pay for the installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Additionally, they will be ordered to perform 24 hours of community service.
In New Mexico, a second DWI conviction will earn perpetrators a mandatory 96 consecutive hours in jail and a $500 fine. Violators will be ordered to 48 hours of community service and will participate in an alcohol or drug abuse screening program at their own expense. Within a time frame specified by the court, they must complete an in-patient, residential, or in-custody substance abuse treatment program that is at least 28 days in duration or a similar drug rehabilitation program. The court could also order an additional 360 days in jail and add another $500 fine.
After a third DWI offense, all future drunk driving convictions are considered felonies and for a fourth offense one will spend a mandatory minimum of one year in jail and be fined up to $5,000. The penalties for future offenses continue to increase in both dollars and jail time.
As a member of the military you are expected to take responsibility for your actions and be responsible on and off duty.
This is especially true if you plan to consume alcohol while off duty. It has been ingrained into us from the beginning of our military service to have a plan and to use operational risk management when involved in high-risk activities. We all know plans can have unexpected changes, however, it is how we choose to overcome the change that makes a difference.
The Airmen Against Drunk Driving program was initiated to safely return enlisted and commissioned Air Commandos of all ranks, civilians, spouses and dependents within the Cannon community to their dwellings without risk to life or career.
Drinking and driving affects so many more than just the one individual. The Airman who commits this crime also places their families, civilian community, military community and mission at risk.
I ask you to think before you drink and find yourself behind the wheel. There is no safe limit that will guarantee you are safe or legal to drive. Develop a plan before you drink and if your first plan falls through there are many options. Keep a copy of you recall roster with you. You can always rely on any of your wingmen to help you out and you can also utilize the AADD program if needed. Bottom line: the safest course of action is not to drink and drive; it's just not worth the risk.