DUI can cause quick end to career, life

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- People join the military for many reasons: education, adventure, patriotism, travel or a steady paycheck.

Regardless of a person's reason for entering the military, there's one thing members have in common -- they all want to go as far as possible in their career, and no one wants their career or their life to come to a sudden end.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the fastest ways to destroy a career or a life.

Everyone knows not to drink and drive, and for a lot of people it has become just words commanders and supervisors say to the troops before the weekend. The sad thing is how devastating the effects of driving under the influence can be not only the drunk driver but also on the individual that may come in contact with the driver.

Understanding this, the 56th Fighter Wing Safety Office would like to inform base members of the impact a DUI conviction has on the base community.

In a recent safety study, it was reported that Arizona experiences approximately 7,500 vehicle accidents per year. That results in more than 250 fatalities and approximately 7,000 injured people.

On average, motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol cost the Arizona public more than $2.6 billion a year. Even if you don't drink but just live in Arizona, some of that $2.6 billion came out of your pocket. Insurance rates are also affected by DUI accidents.

In Arizona alone, approximately 13 percent of all auto insurance payments go to costs associated with alcohol-related accidents. A mere 10 percent reduction in alcohol-related accidents would save nearly $50 million in claims and adjustments. That translates into big savings on insurance premiums.

The repercussions a military member will face if convicted of driving under the influence vary from case to case. However, the maximum punishment a military member could expect for a DUI conviction under the Uniform Code of Military Justice is severe.

If a DUI results in personal injury, a military member could face a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and confinement for 18 months.

If the DUI doesn't result in personal injury, the military member faces a bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and confinement for six months.

The minimum punishment one could face on the for a first offense off base with a blood alcohol content of .08 in the state of Arizona is 10 consecutive days in jail, $950 fine, an additional $250 assessment to the Arizona DUI abatement fund, driver's license suspension for 90 days and probation for up to five years.

While the consequences to one's career are detrimental, they can be overcome in time. The reality of injury or death however is not something anyone should want to risk.