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Far away from the edge

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 11th Space Warning Squadron is a geographically separated unit under the 460th Operations Group. As a GSU at Schriever, much of what we do may not be visible to the personnel on Buckley AFB.

Sometimes that's frustrating and sometimes it's rather convenient. Ordinarily we prefer to keep our mistakes to ourselves, and only announce our triumphs.

But we had a problem recently that I hope everyone on Buckley can learn from.

One of our members was arrested for drinking and driving.

You're probably thinking, "So what? That doesn't affect me. I'm way too smart to get caught in that situation. I always have a plan, and make sure when I'm drinking that I have a way to get home safely."

Guess what? So did our member. He had a plan. He even executed it. And it worked really well until he ran into another factor he hadn't considered, and then it fell apart.

He went out for drinks with his roommate, and they took a taxi home. That should have been the end of the story. Except when they got there, they realized they were locked out of the house. So they took the taxi back to their car to get the keys.

Sticking to the plan would have meant a third taxi ride. Instead, our Airman estimated that enough time had passed that he was sober enough to drive home. He didn't get very far, because driving the wrong direction on a one-way street turns out to be a quick, easy way to attract attention from the police.

His blood alcohol content was 0.077.

Driving under the influence in Colorado requires a blood alcohol of 0.08. Technically, he was 0.003 under the limit for a DUI, so this case will probably be treated as an instance of driving while alcohol impaired. You qualify for a DWAI at 0.05.

If I had been driving in town that night, I don't think I'd find a 0.003 difference between DWAI and DUI very comforting. If he'd been at 0.047, I still would not find that 0.003 gap reassuring. That's too close.

There's a story I've heard in a different context that seems appropriate here.

A man was interviewing several candidates to drive a stagecoach. He asked the first driver how skilled he was, and the fellow replied that he could drive the coach along a cliff with only a silver dollar's distance between the outside wheel and the edge, yet never go off the cliff.

The man then asked the second driver about his skills, and the answer was similar, except he could drive the coach within a quarter's width of the edge and not fall off.

Instead of boasting about driving within a dime's width of the cliff, the third driver said he preferred to stay as far away from the cliff edge as possible, to be completely sure he would not drive off.

Guess who got hired?

When it comes to drinking and driving, please don't see how close to the limit you can get and still be safe. Stay as far away from the edge as possible, and impress us with your wisdom, not your daring.