As you all go off to your boat or office holiday parties, Army-Navy Game festivities and whatnot, please plan ahead how you will get home safely if you plan to have anything to drink.
Remember that alcohol affects your judgment, so it's not good enough to wait until after you've had a few drinks to "plan" your way home. That's when you find yourself saying, "Oh, I only had a couple, I'll be fiiiiiine." Tweeeeeeet! Flag on the play! Unnecessary Poor Judgment.
Make a plan in advance, before you leave the house or have anything to drink. I think the best plan involves a responsible friend who isn't drinking and agrees to make sure you get home safely afterwards.
As I frequently told my crews on my previous boats at quarters on the pier, I understand that plans go awry. Petty Officer Schmuck said he'd be your designated driver. Next thing you know, you look across the club and see Petty Officer Schmuck doing tequila shots with some girl at the bar. I always told my crew that I would rather they called ME for a safe ride home than have to watch you stand at the green table, or worse - have to identify your body in the morgue after you wrap your car around a tree.
Necessary to drive the point home? Yes.
The majority of Captain's Mast cases I've attended for DUIs have been guys who "just had one or two" and thought they were fine to drive home. Again - the alcohol impaired their judgment of how much they had to drink and whether or not they were safe to drive.
I'm sure any member of your crew, your chief, your divo, your department head, or even your XO or CO would rather come get you if you've been drinking rather than have to call your family and tell them you're dead or you're in jail, not to mention the fact your shipmate just got bagged with standing your next duty day and can't stay in port for that school he needed because he's gotta be on the underway watchbill now.
If you're in the DC area and find yourself in a spot where you've been drinking and you need a ride home, then please call the SoberRide program. Program these numbers into your cell NOW before you go out.
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) 2009 Holiday SoberRide program will be offered from 2200 to 0600 each night, beginning Friday, 11 December 2009 and ending at 0600, Friday, 1 January 2010. To receive a free cab ride home (up to a $50.00 fare), please call 800-200-8294 (TAXI) or #8294 (TAXI) on your AT&T wireless phone. You must be 21 years of age or older to use the SoberRide service.
If any of you in other homeports have information on local safe ride programs and would like me to add them to this blog post, then please leave a comment or send me an email.
I hope you all have a SAFE and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas!