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A sobering truth

354th Security Forces Squadron Airmen learned the proper way to administer a Field Sobriety Test; which consists of three parts, each designed to assess motor functions, during an exercise on July 13, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman Eric M. Fisher)

354th Security Forces Squadron Airmen learned the proper way to administer a Field Sobriety Test; which consists of three parts, each designed to assess motor functions, during an exercise on July 13, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman Eric M. Fisher)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- On Thursday, July 13, 2017, I had the opportunity of being part of a training which involved a small group of people being sobriety tested by 354th Security Forces Squadron members so they could practice conducting Field Sobriety Tests.

During this controlled training, six airmen, including myself, were given varying amounts of alcohol based on our weight to reach the legal Blood Alcohol Content limits for driving in the state of Alaska, which is .08.

I started by drinking 4oz of 80 proof alcohol in 30 minutes, which resulted in a BAC of .04, half the legal limit. At this time I didn’t feel impaired by the amount of alcohol I’d consumed, but me being overly cautious I’d have never gotten behind the wheel after drinking that much. 

On the second round, I drank another 4oz of 80 proof alcohol, this time my BAC was .074. I was starting to feel it now; my head was fuzzy, speech slurred, walking unsteadily. At this point I don’t know why anyone would be willing to drive anywhere and was still under the legal limit. 

The final round of alcohol, another 4oz of 80 proof, resulted in my BAC spiking up to .121. At this time the experience wasn’t much different than at the end of the second round. I felt just as drunk and was suffering from the same impediments. 

Once we finished our alcohol, we were escorted to the classroom with the SFS members who would administer the Field Sobriety Test to us. First, we walked in a line heel to toe, then stood on one leg, followed by tracing the path of a pen with our eyes. All of these were pretty difficult given my BAC and though I felt I’d done well by not falling over, I still failed the sobriety tests. 

With the failure of my sobriety tests, and my previous breathalyzer results, I drew one conclusion; if I feel the same with a .074 as I do with a .121, which led me to completely failing the sobriety test, perhaps the responsible thing to do is to avoid driving while drunk, regardless of legality. 

Sure, we can legally drive at .074, but what if we get into an accident that could have been prevented if we were able to respond more quickly?

What if someone were harmed in that accident?

I don’t believe I could live with the guilt of hurting someone based on my greedy decision to drive while drunk instead of just hiring a taxi or calling a friend for a ride. 

We should all strive to make wise decisions because it’s our responsibility to ensure the safety of those around us, especially as members of the military. We have all the resources we need to do the right thing and no excuse for putting others at risk.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015, there were an average of 28 deaths per day caused by drunken driving in the U.S. 

If you’ve been drinking and your plans for transportation fall through, don’t drive, call Airmen Against Drunk Driving at 907-377-7433, it could save a life.