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A DUI affects career, friends, families

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Even after all the tales of tragedy and loss where people are injured or killed by drunk drivers, people still drive under the influence.

In the military and on Joint Base Andrews, the consequences for driving under the influence are severe and have lasting effects that could follow an offender to the end of their career.

"The repercussions for receiving a DUI on base may include losing the ability to drive on base, having to appear in full service dress in front of that person's chain of command, including their squadron commander, receiving the start of a unfavorable information file, being put onto a control roster, losing the ability to test for promotion, losing the ability to be promoted - even if they've already received a line number, receiving an Article 15, or even receiving a court martial," said Senior Airman Suzanne Knocke, 779th Aeromedical Staging Facility medical technician and member of the Airmen Against Drunk Driving program at Joint Base Andrews.

These severe repercussions may serve as a deterrent for Airmen considering driving under the influence alongside the ability of 316th Security Forces Squadron patrolmen who are trained to identify drunk drivers.

"It is very common for police to pull vehicles over for simple traffic infractions which lead to more serious violations," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Klajder, 316 SFS patrolman and NCO in charge of reports and analysis. "Once the officer approaches and makes contact with the driver and/or occupants it's only a matter of seconds before they can tell you have been drinking. The smell and tell-tale signs are almost impossible to cover up."

A DUI not only affects the Airmen receiving the infraction, but it can affect an entire unit.

"Receiving a DUI affects the morale of that Airman's duty section and squadron by bringing it down," said Airman Knocke. "It also affects the duty section by causing issues with scheduling due to the fact that the person who received the DUI cannot drive on base so someone has to be able to pick them up and drop them off. The other Airmen in the office may have some of their privileges taken away as a result of the other Airman's DUI and as a result may feel angry."

Security forces members regularly see how a unit is affected by even just one DUI.

"Most military members and their unit commanders submit a request to have the driving privileges restored, which is usually denied," said Sergeant Klajder. "The request may state reasons such as an inability to carry out their assigned duties, inability to get to and from work, and how the unit is struggling with an unusable member."

Driving drunk affects more than an Airman and their unit, it affects their families, and could also affect another person and their family if that drunk driver hits another vehicle.

"Joint Base Andrews continues to educate everyone on the dangers of drinking and driving, said Chief Master Sgt. James Davis, Joint Base Andrews/316th Wing command chief. "The 316 WG commander specifically requires the 316 WG squadron commanders to brief members of their squadron every Friday and holiday on safety involving drinking and driving. The 316 WG squadron commanders have their own programs within their squadrons to enforce the drinking and driving policy."

The need to drive while under the influence is eliminated by the use of wingmen, base and locally-run programs such as the AADD.

"We currently have an active Airmen Against Drunk Driving Program," said Chief Davis "In 2009 the program netted 10 saves and in 2010 the program currently has three saves."

For more information about the Joint Base Andrews AADD program, call 240-857-7433. To use a BAC calculator from your mobile phone, visit www.B4UDrink.mobi.