Saber Drinking: The "three beliefs"

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- There is no avoiding it or hiding it, Spangdahlem Air Base has a driving-under-the-influence problem. We have all heard about it through commander's calls, friends at work, or reading it in the Saber E-Herald. Unfortunately, some of us have experienced it firsthand.

Either way, Spangdahlem has a higher percentage rate of DUIs when compared to other bases in U.S. Air Forces in Europe. The only way to change this statistic is to change our drinking culture, and the only way to change our drinking culture is to drink more responsibly.

Col. Chris Weggeman, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, presented the 52nd FW's interpretation for responsible drinking during a commander's call in March. The concept is pretty straight forward:

Driving = Zero Drinks This may seem unreasonable at first, but take the time to really think about this concept. There are so many factors to determine your blood alcohol level - your weight, gender, and the percentage of alcohol in your drink all play a part. Consider all of the variables that can affect the way your body reacts to drinking such as how much you've had to eat or if you had adequate sleep the night before. There are too many factors to take into consideration to even attempt to drive after choosing to have a drink. Once you've started drinking, the last thing you should be considering is whether or not you are able to drive home. Embrace this concept 100 percent, and you will take any guesswork out of the equation.

Drinking = No Keys This goes hand in hand with the first concept. Once you start drinking, it is very difficult to make rational decisions. Not only will the "no keys" policy prevent you from leaving the bar or party to get behind the wheel, it will also prevent you from getting in the car later when you may still be intoxicated. Many DUIs happen several hours after the drinking stops and, in some instances, even the next morning.

Responsible Drinking = 5 (4) Responsible drinking is being able to have a good time without regretting your actions the next day. By having only five drinks per night, or four for those smaller in stature, you can avoid an unhappy ending. Everyone's goal is to have a good time when they go out, but I am sure everyone has experienced the person who goes overboard and needs to be babysat for the rest of the evening. You will have a better time drinking moderately and actually remembering the evening, than you would having to apologize for your actions the night before. The 5 (4) rule followed at a moderate pace should allow you to feel the effects of alcohol without all of the negative repercussions of overdoing it. But you will still be too impaired to safely operate a vehicle, which directs us back to our first two drinking expectations.

What does this mean for us? Notice that no one is telling you to quit drinking, quit going out with your friends, or quit having a good time. The message leadership is attempting with this is we can all have a great time and do so responsibly. In fact, you will probably have a better time when you know your plan is solid and no one will end up in handcuffs that evening.

Following these three concepts will set you up for success every time you head out for the evening, allowing you to enjoy yourself without worrying about the outcome.