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Officials say there has been an increase in drinking and driving on Fort Benning and the holidays can contribute to DUIs.
During the holidays, there are more DUI-related incidents resulting in a higher number of arrests based on a greater number of individuals attending Family gatherings, parties and events that serve alcohol or have alcohol present, Maj. Joseph LaBranche, operations officer for the Fort Benning Police Division, said. This places more individuals behind the wheel who are drinking and driving.
LaBranche said criminal penalties for Soldiers who are convicted of DUIs include monetary fines ranging from $500 to $1,500, DUI classes, probation from one month to one year and a possible jail sentence. Administrative penalties include suspension or revocation of state and installation driving privileges, reduction in grade, administrative separation boards and general officer letter of reprimand.
Officials encourage Soldiers to find safe alternatives to prevent drinking and driving. Those who plan to go out to celebrate the holidays should plan a way back home if planning to drink, such as having a designated driver or limiting the number of drinks consumed during the evening so the person is below the legal alcohol level for driving if they are going to drive, LaBranche said. For those who dont have a designated driver, the Safety Cab program offers free rides home for Columbus, Phenix City and Fort Benning residents from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. until Dec. 31. Patrons can call 706-660-6069 to schedule transportation.
Safety Cab is a valuable initiative because it provides an individual who may drink an option to get home rather than driving; placing his or her life and the lives of others at risk, LaBranche said.