DUIs threaten mission readiness

PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- Since the beginning of 2007, Peterson Air Force Base has had more DUIs than all of 2006.

Driving while under the influence is completely unacceptable and inconsistent with our Air Force Core Values, as well as the charge to be a good Wingman. But it goes even further than that. Driving under the influence is illegal and can cause serious injury or death.

Airmen subject themselves to criminal and administrative penalties that irrevocably affect their Air Force careers. If a person is killed as a result of a DUI, the driver may face two charges - DUI and vehicular homicide/reckless driving. These are both felonies and carry a maximum confinement of 36 years.

Recently a single Airman went to a Super Bowl party, intending to "not drink too much." Her good intentions went awry, and on the way home she was stopped by the Colorado State Patrol. Sobriety tests revealed a .16 blood alcohol level, and the Airman was issued a summons for DUI.

In 2005, Colorado had 606 traffic deaths, of which 244, or about 40 percent, were alcohol related. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates about three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

Luckily, she did not become one of these statistics, but she did join the ever-growing list of Airmen charged with DUI.

DUIs are a leadership issue and demand immediate attention. Commanders and supervisors must take the time to talk to their Airmen about responsible choices regarding drinking and driving. We should also address the importance of having a Wingman, a plan, and following through with that plan.

If she had simply used available resources, she would have saved herself countless frustrations including court costs, letters of reprimand and other career implications. With the current Air Force Rollback, this one incident could prove to be a career ending mistake.

Our Warrior Airmen are our most important weapon system. Irresponsible behaviors, like DUI, are clear and present dangers to combat readiness and mission capability.

I need every one of you for this wing to have Strength and Preparedness to Save the Nation. We simply cannot afford to lose even one of you.

Rest assured, we will continue to hold our Airmen accountable for illegal actions. At the same time, I hope that each of you will look out for the other and live within a culture of responsible choices as good Warrior Airmen wingmen.

The Peterson Junior Enlisted Association provides free rides home for anyone who has had too much to drink. Since its inception in 2003, it has provided more than 450 rides through its Enlisted Against Drunk Driving program. Call 55-NO-DUI for a ride from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.