Drinking and Driving - You Will Get Caught

  • Published
  • By Maj. Rooker Mears
  • 36th Wing Staff Judge Advocate's office
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a crime. You've heard this before; it is not new. Yet, there are some military members that continue to decide to get behind the wheel of a car and drive after they have been drinking. There are few tragedies that have scarred more people than those of drunk drivers, just ask the family of the Guam police officer that was killed by a drunk driver in December of last year. 

The Guam motorcycle patrolman was killed while responding to the report of a fight at a local night club just after 3 a.m. As he was passing the Fiesta Resort a woman driving an SUV pulled out of the parking lot and struck and killed him. The woman who was arrested had a blood alcohol content that measured nearly double the legal limit of 0.08.
Since that time, the Guam Police Department has dramatically increased their patrols and use of checkpoints to catch people driving after they drink. Additionally, on Andersen Air Force Base, almost all drunk drivers are caught at the gate as they attempt to enter the base. It's not hard to get caught drinking and driving on Guam. Just ask the six Airmen that have been caught this year alone. 

The Guam Attorney General's Office, after meeting with the Andersen Staff Judge Advocate's Office, recently agreed to give Air Force commanders near immediate jurisdiction over alcohol offenses occurring off base. Now commanders will be able to deal with Airmen who are caught on base or off base by GPD, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This is great news for good order and discipline and not so good news for those few who just don't get it. The implications are enormous for those who are caught. 

First, you could suffer the stigma of a federal conviction and going to jail after being tried and found guilty at a courts-martial, or suffer the loss of rank and lots of pay after being punished under Article 15 of the UCMJ. You would be that person in the unit that others talk about and use as an example of what not to be like, or having to face friends and co-workers knowing that at one time you might have been their supervisor but now because of a loss of rank they supervise you. 

That's not all. In addition to punishment, there is the loss of driving privileges, potentially downtown, and definitely on Andersen. How does two years of not driving on base sound? Think you'll get away with it if you refuse to submit to a breath test? You won't. 

Besides the fact that you can still be prosecuted, if you refuse to provide a breath sample when requested, also known as implied consent, driving privileges are automatically revoked. If there is an implied consent refusal and driving under the influence, it is a lengthy three-year driving revocation on Andersen. Think about years of finding other means of getting to and from work, of getting to and from unit physical training, of getting to and from medical appointments. This list goes on and on. Perhaps, a friend will be willing to drive you around. But understandably this becomes burdensome, and friendship will only take a person so far. Think about the children who have to explain to their friends why a parent can't drive them to school or take them to sports practice. 

As Airmen, we represent the best of what our country stands for. People look to us as the elite and representatives of the United States. By taking responsibility for your actions 24 hours a day, and knowing how to minimize the risk to ourselves and others is the "I can save my own life" concept in action. But for those who just don't understand the obvious of why they are important to their family, unit, mission, and Air Force, go ahead and take the risk. They will get caught. And they will suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, so will their family, unit, mission, and Air Force. They will deserve it, but others will pay the higher price.