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Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month: Have a plan

December is nationally recognized as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. Whether you’ve only had a couple drinks or a small dose of prescribed medication, it’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel while slightly inhibited. (Courtesy graphic)

December is nationally recognized as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. Whether you’ve only had a couple drinks or a small dose of prescribed medication, it’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel while slightly inhibited. (Courtesy graphic)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The holiday season is a time to unwind and be merry. Every year during the holidays there are a plethora of social gatherings, including parties with family, friends and co-workers. That merriment, however, can instantaneously turn into tragedy depending upon one’s choices when traveling to and from these gatherings. Whether you’ve only had a couple drinks or a small dose of prescribed medication, it’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel while slightly inhibited.

December is nationally recognized as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, however, awareness of impaired driving is an everyday responsibility – one with lasting legal ramifications if handled incorrectly.

“Even if there aren’t injuries or fatalities, the legal and personal costs of a DUI can be extraordinary,” said Capt. Amy Patton, 30th Space Wing Judge Advocate assistant staff. “DUIs can cost the driver thousands and thousands of dollars in fees and can result in a lengthy driver’s license suspension. On the military side, a DUI can result in a range of disciplinary actions, ranging from administrative paperwork to court-martial. Additionally, a DUI, regardless of location, can result in a military member having their driving privileges revoked on the installation. All of the above makes something as simple as getting to work every day a challenge. If someone racks up several DUIs, it can lead to jail time.”

Today, programs and apps designed to provide transportation are at an all-time high. One of those programs, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, was created to ensure the safety of the Air Force’s most valuable asset – its Airmen.

“Our mission is to provide services for Team V to utilize if they ever need to or if their original plan falls through,” said Senior Airman Evan Harris, 30th Space Communications Squadron cyber transport administrator and AADD president. “Additionally, we have services available every weekend for every special event that we get requested for on extended weekends.”

Harris, who was affected by drunk driving within his own family, explains the simplicity of using another means of transportation, as opposed to impaired driving.

“I’ve had people in my family who have been affected by drunk driving,” said Harris. “It’s disappointing and frustrating at the same time. The service is there, so all they have to do is call the number. There’s no reason for anyone to put themselves and others at risk.”

Not making that smart decision could potentially lead to disastrous, life-altering events, not only for those involved, but their families and loved ones as well.

“Think about what is at stake every time you go out and know you’re going to be drinking,” said Patton. “I would tell Airmen to expect the unexpected. No one plans to go out and get a DUI or get in a fatal car accident. You can call a cab or an Uber. There is the AADD program on almost every Air Force base. There is a chain of decision making that happens throughout any given night, and one smart decision in that chain can help prevent something catastrophic.”