Getting a DUI from an SFS perspective

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Shane Dynes
  • 341st Security Forces Squadron
Whether it's the middle of the day or the middle of the night, Malmstrom Airmen of the 341st Security Forces Squadron patrol the streets to keep the base population safe. One of the many things they are on the look out for are dangerous drivers.

The patrols are trained to detect various aspects of driving behavior that indicate an inattentive or impaired driver behind the wheel of a 2,000 pound projectile. Whether the driver is distracted by a cell phone, radio, barking dog or has impairing amounts of illegal or legal chemicals in their blood stream, most will exhibit certain signals to the patrol that they are not safely operating their vehicle.

Our patrols look for certain indicators, such as excessive speed, wide turns, weaving, or disregard for traffic signals or devices. If observed, the patrols will take action to ascertain why the driver is exhibiting unsafe driving behavior. Once the patrol has a vehicle safely stopped, a call to 341st SFS dispatch center lets the control center know the situation and vehicle license information, and a request for a backup be dispatched is made.

Before the patrol makes initial contact with the driver, the dispatch has already informed the patrol to let him or her know if there are any wants or warrants for the registered driver of that vehicle. The computer systems in the dispatch center are completely interoperable with state and federal agencies, and complete information is at the fingertips of the dispatcher. Once the vehicle is considered clear, the patrol will make contact with the driver and collect insurance, registration, driver's military identification or visitor's pass and state driver's license. A check will then be run on the driver if they are not the registered owner of the vehicle. The patrol also observes the overall picture of the vehicle; looking for obvious distractions that may have contributed to the driving behavior such as passengers and contents of the vehicle that are in clear view. They will observe the driver's behavior for indicators of the driver's motor skills, such as clear or glassy eyes, coherent or slurred speech, ability to understand instructions, smells and visual observations of the driver.

The patrol will ask simple questions as to whether the driver was aware of their actions prior to being stopped. More indicators present themselves to the patrol as the driver answers these questions. The patrol can further look for indicators by asking questions that split the driver's attention. If there seems to be some impairment, then the driver is asked to exit the vehicle and perform a battery of tests to determine the extent of impairment. If the driver demonstrates adequate motor skills and ability to understand instructions and safely operate a vehicle, they may be released with a warning or cited for the driving offense and released with a reminder to be safe.

If the driver shows signs of impairment, then the level of influence is determined by the combined scores of the tests performed. If determined to be impaired, then the driver will be asked to submit a sample of their breath with a portable breath test. If this last test indicates an elevated blood alcohol level, the driver is transported to the Security Forces Squadron where further processing occurs.

At the police station, the Intoxicator 8000 is warmed up and the patrol explains to the driver the procedures for providing breath samples. The driver then blows into the machine providing a sample of his breath a minimum of two times. If the level is at or above .08 the driver is advised of their rights and charged with Article 111 for drunk driving or reckless driving. He or she is then provided a preliminary drivers suspension letter. They are then released to their first sergeant or commander.

The patrol then completes their report detailing all the pertinent facts, observations and test results. The report is processed through the Security Forces Reports and Analysis section, who forwards it to the respective commander and state licensing agency.
Ultimately, the driver's privileges are revoked by their state and the base, and another dangerous driver is removed from the streets for a minimum of one year.