By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterDecember 12, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 12, 2013) -- Driving under the influence can have lasting and costly consequences, and Fort Rucker officials want to make sure that people remain aware of the magnitude of one wrong decision.
Driving under the influence is a serious issue that communities are battling both on and off the installation, and officials at the Directorate of Public Safety want to make sure that people understand how serious the consequences of one's actions can be, especially when it comes to DUI, according to Maj. Joshua Munch, DPS deputy provost marshal.
"We have a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence on Fort Rucker," said Munch. "If a Soldier is pulled over for DUI on the installation, they will immediately lose their privilege to drive on Fort Rucker and will be cited for driving under the influence, which will go through the federal court system."
If convicted, Munch said that the Soldier will have a federal charge on their record, which can have long-lasting effects that could potentially follow them out of the military.
Additionally, if a Soldier is cited off post for DUI, they will go through the state court system, which can result in suspension or revocation of a drivers license, fines and even jail time. Regardless of the penalties, the Soldier will not be allowed to drive on post following the conviction, added Munch.
"The Soldier may have privileges to drive under certain circumstances while he or she is off post, such as to and from work, but once they get to the gate, they will need someone to pick them up or use some other means of transportation," he said.
Driving privileges aren't the only thing that people will be missing out on, however. Amongst other things, being cited for DUI can get very expensive, said Munch, with court costs, lawyers' fees and fines that people must pay in order to get their license back.
In addition to the monetary costs of a DUI, administrative action can be taken against a Soldier that could put a dent on career plans.
"Something like this can follow you because it could potentially affect the job hiring process," said Munch. "When a company does a background check, they will see that you have a federal charge on your record, and that could bump you from getting the job over the other (person)."
For senior enlisted Soldiers and officers, they run the risk of having a General Office Memorandum of Reprimand, which can be a career killer, according to the deputy provost marshal.
Each GOMOR is looked at by the commanding general of the installation who decides if the file will be stored in the Soldier's local file, which is shredded or destroyed once a person leaves Fort Rucker, or if it will go in a permanent file that will follow the individual for the rest of his or her career.
Another consideration people need to take into account is their Family, said the deputy provost marshal.
"People need to think about the selfish act they are committing," he said. "There are also ramifications for the Family members and what you do impacts them. You may not be able to get your children from school or be able to fulfill financial obligations to your Family. This list can go on."
Consequences of driving under the influence don't only come from the courts or administration, said Munch, but can put people's lives at risk. There are harsher punishments for those who are involved in accidents while under the influence, especially if people are harmed or killed.
"If someone who has been driving under the influence gets into an accident and seriously injures or kills someone, they can be charged with aggravated assault, manslaughter or vehicular homicide," he said. "When you're impaired to the point that you don't know what you're doing, there is a high potential that you're going to seriously injure someone."
In order to prevent these types of incidents, people can take preventative measures and just use common sense when making their decisions, said Master Sgt. Pedro San Miguel, DPS provost sergeant.
"If you plan on drinking, always have a plan to get home," he said. "Have a designated driver or call a cab, and if you do have a designated driver, make sure that person is trustworthy because even if they have one drink, you don't know how that one drink is going to affect them."
Alcohol affects people differently, added San Miguel. It typically takes one hour for one alcoholic beverage to filter through a person of average size and the only way for alcohol to leave a person's body is through the passing of time.
"Coffee or (energy drinks) won't do it, only time will," he said. "A lot of people don't give themselves enough time to get the alcohol out of their system, especially when they've been binge drinking, and that's when they get into trouble."
As a last resort, San Miguel said Soldiers can call on their chain of command to come and get them to keep them from driving.
"That's one of the benefits of being a Soldier," he said. "I know I would feel a lot better knowing that I was able to get a Soldier home safely in that situation rather than them trying to drive themselves home."