Health & Safety

December 20, 2013

Another DUI message?

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Master Sgt.Birch Rypka
31st Test and Evaluation Squadron

The Edwards AFB DUI awareness sign located at the intersection of Lancaster Blvd. and Fitz-Gerald Blvd.

I know! I know you think you have heard it all on this subject, but please don’t stop reading!
I know you have received hundreds (if not thousands) of DUI briefings over the course of your careers, but despite all that time and attention, DUI briefings don’t work.

What’s that you say! It’s true and I can prove it. The next time you are driving by the building that used to be the gas station, on the corner of Lancaster Blvd. and Fitz-Gerald, and safety permits, take a look at the DUI board.

While writing this commentary, it says that we’ve had 14 DUI’s this year.

Those are 14 people that have been briefed a thousand times not do drink and drive but did anyway!
So I maintain … DUI briefs don’t work, at least not all the time, and what’s more, I know why they don’t work. I have interviewed dozens of first sergeants and a handful of command chiefs and the story of the DUI is almost always the same: “I had a couple of beers over a couple of hours and I felt fine”. There are two problems with the aforementioned statement. The first is “a couple,” while literally meaning two, has a vague definition when applied to alcohol users. When they say “a couple” do they mean a couple an hour? A “couple” right before they got in the car? It’s murky at best, and it goes to support my theory when the Blood Alcohol Content is revealed after just “a couple” of beers.

My second issue with the DUI story is the “I felt fine” part.

To that last bit I say, in the loudest voice polite for your work area, “Of course you felt fine! You just spent $5 a pint to feel fine! That’s what alcohol does. It’s why people like it.” Nobody in the history of man would say, “You know what? I think I am going to get me some of that rotten grass water” if it didn’t make them feel good.

I know folks like the taste of alcohol, but if it wasn’t tied to feeling good, hardly anyone would do it. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself when was the last time you had a good long sip on a non-alcoholic beer?

I am a United States Air Force First Sergeant and to some folks what I say matters.

I say this, I don’t hate alcohol, but I hate DUIs. I hate what they do to our Airmen’s careers; I hate what they do to our units and I hate the potentially disastrous effect they can have on human life. I remember being asked as an Airman in Airman Leadership School, “What can we do to prevent DUI?” I think the answer is the same now as it was then.

Every single one of us has to walk over to a mirror, look deep inside ourselves and say “I will not drink and drive, period, ever” and mean it. On that day, we will happily stop the briefings.




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