DUI equation

  • Published
  • By Capt. Douglas J. Pietersma
  • 28th Operational Support Squadron intelligence flight deputy commander
Time after time, we've heard our Air Force leaders plead for us to "have a plan" before consuming alcoholic beverages. These briefings happen at commander's calls, staff meetings, and one-on-one with supervisors. Despite this emphasis, a lot of it doesn't seem to work. 

I have attended meetings hours in length that lay out the causes, consequences and realities of driving under the influence. Law enforcement officers, parents of DUI victims, DUI offenders, Mothers Against Drunk Driving organizers and commanders all plead for us to prevent DUIs in any way possible. But even these events seem do not stop the tide of DUIs. Why don't these things work? 

Once a military member has devised a plan for an event where alcohol is involved; the success of that plan depends on coherent execution. When a person is intoxicated they are not in a coherent state of mind; therefore, they should not operate a vehicle. When someone is incoherent, their previous plan may break down. 

I believe this stems from a critical fault in our planning process as it pertains to consumption of alcohol. Recommendations to prevent DUI include: a designated driver, having friends or coworkers numbers so you can call, calling a taxi or simply just staying where you are. 

The fatal flaw in planning comes from leaving the critical components of a DUI available to the individual. The three key elements required for a DUI are: the individual, the alcohol and the ability to operate a vehicle. Thus, an equation is: person + alcohol + vehicle = potential DUI, every time. 

Removing any one of these elements of the equation equals what I like to call the foolproof plan. If the person is not present at the alcohol-involved event, there is zero chance of that individual getting a DUI. If there is no alcohol at an event, there is a zero chance of people at that event getting a DUI. If revelers have no access to a vehicle, then there is zero chance of a DUI. 

If you are hosting a party, take all the keys and lock them up entrust them to someone who's not drinking. The same can be said if you are drinking at home. Don't take your car to a bar, a party or any other alcohol involved event. Coordinated mass transportation to events will provide the necessary protection. If you are the host, don't serve alcohol if you are not certain of vehicle inaccessibility. Lastly, if you can't personally ensure vehicle inaccessibility at a function or social event don't go. 

Will this prevent 100 percent of all DUIs? With the exception of an event where the designated responsible person starts drinking or the alcohol consuming individual becomes belligerent and forces access to a vehicle, this simple plan will prevent DUIs.
Remove a critical component of the DUI equation (yourself, the alcohol or the vehicle) and you have created, "The Foolproof Plan." Otherwise you place yourself if the precarious position of being Ellsworth's next DUI.