Bad decisions, big consequences
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- It is well-known that the Air Force has a zero-tolerance policy for criminal offences involving alcohol such as underage drinking and disorderly conduct. That policy also applies to driving under the influence, which carries hefty penalties for Airmen.
To help spread awareness of the possible consequences of drinking and driving, the 374th Security Forces Squadron hosted a DUI Rodeo at the Samurai Fitness Center, Oct. 16, 2015. The rodeo consisted of five stations simulating the process of a DUI charge and conviction.
"Our main intent is prevention through education," said Tech. Sgt. Justin McDonald, 374 SFS assistant flight chief. "We want people aware of the consequences of DUIs on and off base."
At the first two stations Team Yokota members were shown the effects alcohol has on vision and fine motor control in an interactive setting. Participants took free throw shots while wearing 'drunk goggles' and were then given a field sobriety test with a simulated blood alcohol content of 0.2.
"Even with the goggles I felt I could still accomplish the tasks asked of me," said Chief Master Sgt. Reynold Albright, 374th Operations Group command chief. "Finding out how miserably I failed at those tasks was quite a shock."
After failing the sobriety test, the participants were escorted, some sporting a new pair of handcuffs around their wrists, to a mock trial station manned by members of the 374th Judge Advocate General's Corps. During the trial the prosecutor outlined the case against the 'defendant' and listed the applicable sentences in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This included loss of rank, forfeiture of pay, five months confinement, but this was only for someone caught on base. Off-base offenders would find themselves at the mercy of the Japanese courts where they may face massive fines, years of imprisonment and forced labor.
"When I was sitting before the judge it felt like my entire Air Force career was in jeopardy, with him telling me I'm facing jail time and loss of rank," Albright said. "After spending this many years in the Air Force to have him say that one bad choice could define my career instead of those years of service and who I am... it was terrifying."
The DUI Rodeo concluded with stations dedicated to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program and Yokota's 225-RIDE volunteer organization. According to McDonald the rodeo met with positive feedback and had met the goals for its inception.
"Everyone I've spoken with who's been through it has had their eyes opened to the consequences," McDonald said. "If that scares even one person away from drinking and driving then this rodeo worked."