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Moody faces dangerous DUI dilemma

Moody Air Force Base, Ga., posts signs at each gate to display the number of days since the last Driving Under the Influence. As a consequence of drinking and driving, the Airman convicted and members of their squadron must be in full service dress while they change the number on the sign every day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexis Millican/Released)

Moody Air Force Base, Ga., posts signs at each gate to display the number of days since the last Driving Under the Influence. As a consequence of drinking and driving, the Airman convicted and members of their squadron must be in full service dress while they change the number on the sign every day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexis Millican/Released)

Moody Air Force Base, Ga. -- Editor's note: This is the first article in a series highlighting the dangers of drinking and driving, alcohol abuse, and the negative effects those behaviors can have on someone's life.

With nearly 6,000 Airmen assigned to Team Moody, how many DUIs are acceptable? The short answer is "zero."

In 2013, there were 29 arrests for DUI here. Within the last three months, four Moody Airmen have been caught driving under the influence of alcohol. For a military service that prides itself on excellence and integrity, this dangerous, and not to mention illegal, trend is becoming more of a problem.

"Anything you do can and will affect your career, no matter if it's an LOR, LOC or an Article 15 for a DUI," said a Moody Airman who received a DUI in 2013.

The Airman received an article 15, loss of a stripe, loss of pay, 15 days extra duty as well as being stripped of some job related responsibilities.

"I let all my family down," he said. "Not just blood related, but my Air Force family as well."

On Feb. 10, Moody received its most recent DUI. A senior airman, who chose to drink and drive, was caught with a blood alcohol content of 0.087.

The legal limit for the state of Georgia is 0.08; anything over that is legally intoxicated.

"DUIs are an ongoing battle that we fight. It's only a matter of time until someone drives intoxicated and takes their own life or takes someone else's life," said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Miller, 23d Mission Support Group chief enlisted manager. "One individual choosing to drink and drive, being pulled over but surviving doesn't seem to impact people. But when a life is lost because of the individual's choice, everyone gives pause for a minute and reflects on that."

Miller has experienced personal loss when it comes to DUIs. Two of his friends, and fellow Airmen, were involved in an accident, which changed his outlook on drinking forever.

"As you get older, you start to realize that drinking has an impact. It really hit home for me in 1987. I lost two friends in a DUI accident who were passengers in the car with someone driving under the influence," said Miller. "The irony in it was, they died on base about 200 yards from home. Did I stop drinking after that? I did because it was a sobering experience.

"They made a bad decision to ride with someone who was intoxicated and it cost them their lives. As you get older you have so much more at stake; your career, family and all those kinds of things. There are responsible drinkers out there, don't get me wrong, but not drinking is now my lifestyle choice."

Drinking and driving is not only a dangerous choice for the individual behind the wheel, but also for everyone else on the road. DUI is a choice that could have irreversible consequences.

"The effects from DUI have no time limit," said Miller. "If you drink and drive, it's a crime. If caught driving under the influence you will be prosecuted and you probably won't be a member of the world's greatest Air Force."

Moody has many resources available to help Airmen before they make the choice to drink and drive. Miller reinforces that DUIs are 100 percent preventable and everyone should have a plan when drinking.

If a plan falls through, there is a group of volunteer Airmen on-call and willing to take fellow wingmen home after a night of drinking. The group is called SOBER ride and the number is 25SOBER (257-6237).

Along with SOBER ride, Moody offers the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program. This program is set up to help Airmen figure out a solution before drinking becomes a problem.

"Safety is huge. If people are out there drinking we want to make sure they have a plan, that they have a wingman or someone to look out for them. We want to set a good example while we're in the military to protect ourselves and others," said 1st Lt. Chelsea Barry, Mental Health ADAPT program manager.

Barry added that ADAPT continues to spread awareness to help keep the base and Airmen safe.

"We are trying to coordinate with our outreach element to get out and discuss our programs and the options available before they turn to drinking or their career is impacted because of drinking.

"Typically on average we receive about five referrals a week, but it is also dependent on the time of year. January is a tough time for Airmen because it's right after the holidays," added Barry. "We also see numbers increase after certain deployments."

Just in the last several months Moody received a total of 10 DUIs, which was troubling to Miller.

"One DUI is too many," said Miller, who also stated that it is important to continue to campaign and educate, because in the end it's up to the individual to make the right decision.

"To every individual assigned to Moody AFB we need your help, inside the gate and off base," Miller added. "Be responsible, be the one who saves a life, because the minute someone loses a life you can't bring them back."