In 2009, Hill Air Force Base reported 29 incidences of military personnel and nine incidences of civilian personnel driving while intoxicated. Although these reports are one incident, respectively, less than those reported in 2008, the 75th Security Forces Squadron believes the 38 total incidences were still unnecessary.
Bad planning on the drinker's part or not following through with the designated driver plan were reasons that Michael J. Mazoyer, 75th SFS Security assistant, pinpointed for why those 38 individuals decided to get behind the wheel of their vehicle. "I keep hearing 'we had a plan, but it fell through,' or 'I didn't think I drank that much.'"
"But the military has plenty of resources to help out its folks," he added.
The best program, Mazoyer said, is Airmen Against Drunk Driving. When plans to get a designated driver "fall through," he said it is better to "get a courtesy ride in an Airman's vehicle instead of the back seat of a police car."
The AADD program has existed at Hill AFB for more than five years and provides a free, last resort for anyone who possesses a Department of Defense identification card who has exceeded their personal alcohol consumption limit.
That limit could be the federally-established limit of 0.08% blood-alcohol content, or the limit could be even lower to encompass any indication of any trace of alcohol, if the arresting officer finds sufficient reason to believe the driver's ability to operate the vehicle has been impaired.
This is why, when one has a designated driver, that person must refrain from drinking any amount of alcohol.
"Having a designated driver is also a good idea, but it takes some effort on the part of the driver to keep to the 'not a drop' rule," said Mazoyer. "Also, history shows that once the DD has a drink, more will follow."
When one's DD falls through, a quick phone call can be placed to AADD.
"When a call is received, an AADD dispatcher will verify the caller's name, squadron, phone number, the number of passengers and their location," said Senior Airman Zahira Martinez, 75th Air Base Wing Knowledge Operation manager and AADD coordinator. "Then the dispatcher will relay that information to a driver. Once the caller has been picked up, the driver will verify the caller's ID and ensure they make it home safe."
Safe and free transportation are the only concerns of the AADD program. Although the organization will provide rides to drinkers who are suspected to be under the legal drinking age, AADD does not promise to protect the underage drinkers from its consequences.
Martinez says the AADD program is confidential, however, unless a person is suspected of abusing it. Abuse includes: more than two requests for AADD assistance per month; more than one request for AADD assistance in the same evening; and requesting AADD assistance and failing to meet with the driver on more than one occasion. These abuses would most likely be reported to the offender's First Sergeant.
Above all, however, the volunteers who operate the AADD program want to ensure the safety of their fellow Airmen.
Martinez gladly reported that significantly more people decided to call AADD rather than get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
"The total of lives saved in 2009 was 305," said Martinez.
AADD is a volunteer-operated program that requires six or more people to operate effectively each weekend.
"We would like to see more non-commissioned officers and senior NCOs, and even officers, step up and volunteer since our program is ran mostly by Airmen 1st Class and Senior Airmen," Martinez said. "To volunteer, contact your squadron's point of contact."
A schedule and a list of points of contact is also posted on AADD's Web site, https://hillnet.hill.af.mil/hafb/programs/aadd.
AADD drivers are available Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. and Sundays from 9 p.m. until midnight.
When AADD drivers are not available, such as during weekdays, Mazoyer says other options are always available, such as calling a taxi cab service.
"The $50 cab fare is a lot cheaper than a DUI conviction," he said, noting that those consequences for military personnel include "receiving an Article 15, possible loss of rank, loss of privileges, loss of money, loss of driving privileges on base for one year, 120 days no driving off base, mandatory counseling, and paperwork that will ruin one's career."
Civilian personnel also suffer harsh consequences, including "(one's) command notification, loss of base driving privileges for one year and loss of Utah driving privileges for 120 days, appearance before the federal magistrate in Salt Lake City, a fine, court costs, and lawyer fees."
For those who think they can still get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol and plan to avoid the aforementioned consequences by refusing to take any tests ordered by the arresting officer, Mazoyer has contrary information.
"Many people think if they don't provide a sample they have nothing to convict on -- not true. The repercussions of refusing are much higher than a conviction of a DUI which provided the sample."
The bottom line?
"Help each other out," he said. "Everyone is a Wingman and needs to look out for one another. If you see something not right and you think someone is intoxicated, have the intestinal fortitude to take the keys away from that person and call them a cab. Use AADD to its fullest and volunteer your time to AADD to help others out."
The phone number for AADD is (801) 777-1111.