Drinking and driving -- recipe for the wrong choice

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christopher Donohoe
  • JSUPT Class 10-07
As a student in Phase Two of Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, there's no greater feeling than 5:30 p.m. on a Friday. You are finally done for the week. 

You flew six sorties in the aircraft, knocked out four simulator events, and passed the Emergency Procedure Quiz with flying colors. Monday morning's 6 a.m. show time isn't anywhere on your horizon.

As soon as you get back to your flight room you notice that the beer light is on and there's nowhere you'd rather be -- because in here, the beer is cold and cheap and everybody knows your name. 

We've all heard the adage "work hard, play hard," but you're smarter than that and you decide after a few cold ones to get home for some well deserved rest. You hardly feel a buzz and believe you're making a responsible choice regarding your alcohol use. 

You had three beers in an hour. You are pulled over for going 63 mph in a 55-mph zone. You are administered field sobriety tests, followed by the breathalyzer. Your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08. You are legally intoxicated. You are arrested. You spend the night in jail. 

I'm telling you this because I know from experience. 

Before that night, I believed that the only people who got caught driving while intoxicated were completely soused bar-flies knocking over mailboxes in their drunken stupor home. I was wrong. 

At some point we have all had a beer or two, whether at assignment night or a typical Friday, and driven home. Consider my experience as a valuable opportunity to learn what can go wrong after such careless behavior. 

There is zero tolerance for driving while intoxicated in today's Air Force. Oklahoma law and Air Force Instructions specify that you are legally drunk with a 0.08 BAC. 

According to the Air Force Medical Service's alcohol education module as presented by Vance's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program, the average 180-pound man will increase his BAC by approximately 0.02 percent per drink. In my case, three drinks in one hour resulted in a BAC above the legal limit. 

Over the past five months I have been schooled on the "0-0-1-3" and "Culture of Responsible Choices" programs, both of which codify the decision-making processes each Airman should use before drinking alcohol. 

Air Force regulations, like Oklahoma law, have no tolerance for driving while under the influence. Don't let yourself or your Wingman get too close to 0.08 BAC. Better yet, have a plan that doesn't involve drinking and driving, regardless of how little you intend to drink. 

Although the CoRC and 0-0-1-3 programs are educational and informative, their foundation is common sense, personal accountability and Wingmanship. 

Questions regarding responsible alcohol use are not philosophical with "no right answer" - they are legally and scientifically defined. As Airmen, we must not allow our judgment to be clouded by the dynamics of a given situation, peer pressure or the amount we've had to drink already. 

The right choice is the right choice every time. Driving while intoxicated -- and it doesn't take much -- is never the right choice.