Last 10 DUIs: 10 Stripes, 20 years of lost Driving Privileges, 2 Discharges

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon
  • 55th Wing commander
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. Driving under the influence crimes has sure left a wake of tragedy. For Offutt Air Force Base, the last 10 adjudicated DUIs have resulted in 10 lost stripes, nearly $7,500 in fines/pay forfeitures, 135 days of extra-duty and 30 days of restriction to base. All 10 Airmen lost their base driving privileges for two years, and two of the Airmen were discharged from the Air Force, costing them their G.I. Bill benefits.

This doesn't even count for the insurance premiums that rocket up after a DUI. Most auto insurance premiums will double or triple after a DUI, and typically costs the Airman a minimum of $4,500 over five years. For egregious DUIs, the costs are even higher. It takes five years for insurance premiums to return to normal after a DUI, assuming a clean driving record thereafter.

Sadly, as significant as these costs are, Offutt AFB has learned the price of a DUI can be even greater. Just 10 months ago an Offutt Airman's night of drinking ended when he crashed his vehicle into a house off base. He came within inches of hitting the home's owner and caused more than $40,000 in damages to the house. Convicted downtown of DUI, the Airman was discharged from the Air Force under other than honorable conditions, losing many of his earned benefits.

Still costlier and more tragic is the case of former Tech. Sgt. Richard Burr. Burr ran a red light in Omaha and struck another vehicle after he had been out drinking. His blood-alcohol level was .158. He killed two people that night. In May 2008 he pleaded guilty in civilian court to vehicular homicide. His costs included his Air Force career, his marriage, 14-20 years in state jail and the life-long burden of knowing his drinking and driving cost two others their lives.

Bottom line...drinking and driving never pays...there are only costs, which are significant and life-changing. Don't be "that guy" we write about in the future who is minus a stripe or two, being discharged, and wondering "why I was so stupid to drive while under the influence?"