How I Met Your Mother: The designated driver's role

Drinking and driving can lead to more than a DUI: it can cost someone their life. It is important to always have a plan when going out for the night, but, if all else fails, Airmen Against Drunk Driving is always there as well. For more information regarding AADD call 701-747-2273. (Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Bonnie Grantham)

Drinking and driving can lead to more than a DUI: it can cost someone their life. It is important to always have a plan when going out for the night, but, if all else fails, Airmen Against Drunk Driving is always there as well. For more information regarding AADD call 701-747-2273. (Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Bonnie Grantham)

The 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., is launching a new features series entitled, “Air Force Liquid Television.” The articles will be named in part after popular TV shows and focus on the various areas of life impacted by alcohol and the act of drinking and driving. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez)

The 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office at Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., is launching a new features series entitled, “Air Force Liquid Television.” The articles will be named in part after popular TV shows and focus on the various areas of life impacted by alcohol and the act of drinking and driving. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez)

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The role of designated driver is not always a role people jump to fill. Being the sober one in a group of friends can be frustrating and make the DD feel excluded. Though it may not be considered the most desirable position for a night of fun, it is the most crucial to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

"Designated drivers are very important," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, 319th Medical Support Squadron clinical laboratory technician and president of Airmen Against Drunk Driving. "They're the people making sure individuals drinking have a safe way home. They're responsible for the safety of the people who have trusted them."

Some people equate being the designated driver to being a babysitter and say that taking care of drunk people is not fun. However, Airman 1st Class Ian Bush, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron command support staff, regularly volunteers as a driver for AADD, and says that there are ways to make it fun.

"You get the chance to meet new people doing AADD, and you can actually get some pretty cool stories from them," said Bush. "When you're in the car with somebody else, you can get to know them for more than just another Airman. In the car, it's just you and that other person."

There are many other benefits to being the designated driver, Sullivan said.

"A benefit of being a designated driver is knowing your friends are going to get home safely, and you don't have to be worried about them making a bad decision," he said. "It goes back to the Core Value of Service Before Self. You have the chance to serve others and make sure they get home safe. You're there to get each other's backs."

Bush said some of the other benefits of being the DD include saving money by not drinking, and also maintaining a clear state of mind so that you are less likely to get in trouble.

It is imperative to know who the designated driver will be before the night begins, Sullivan said.

"Going blind to a night out is setting yourself up miserably," said Sullivan. "It's important to know how you're getting home, and, if that plan falls through, have another way to get home without risking your life or someone else's life or your career by making a bad decision."

Assigning someone as a DD before the night begins is a good way to hold someone accountable for your safety, but it's important to be sure the person assigned can be trusted with the responsibility.

"A designated driver is the epitome of a wingman," said Bush. "It needs to be someone that I know if I call them at 3 in the morning, they will be there."

Planning is an effective way to ensure the night goes as smoothly as possible, but what happens when the plan falls through? What if the designated driver decides to partake?

"Airmen Against Drunk Driving is a free, confidential service that provides a ride to basically anyone with an I.D. card any time, any day," said Sullivan. "Sundays through Thursdays, the shifts are covered by the AADD officers, but on Fridays and Saturdays, volunteers take the calls."

Because of the confidentiality of AADD, there are no ramifications to using the program, even for anyone underage, although that is not something AADD condones nor endorses, said Sullivan.

"People need to realize the seriousness of what can happen if you don't stick to your plan and you make a bad decision to drink and drive: loss of career, loss of money, loss of trust, loss of life," said Sullivan. "Even if you don't stick to your plan, have something to fall back on so you don't make that stupid decision to drink and drive. Know someone to call and know AADD."

For more information about AADD call 701-747-2273.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is part of a series titled "Air Force Liquid Television," which features stories about the various areas of life impacted by alcohol and the act of drinking and driving.