KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany –
The 7th Mission Support Command’s safety program manager and alcohol and drug coordinator organized drunk driver awareness safety training at Daenner K4355aserne on Oct. 22.
The annual event increases awareness of the U.S. and German laws and regulations for the legal driving limit while under the influence.
The interactive training included wearing Fatal Vision alcohol impairment simulation goggles, which allowed participants to “see” what it is like to do simple recreational activities such as corn hole, while inebriated.
Stephen Graves, 7th MSC safety program manager, and Cynthia Foster, the command’s alcohol and drug coordinator, also conducted a driving course, where participants weave between cones at 10 mph in a Gator utility vehicle with goggles simulating the feeling of two times over the United States’ legal alcohol driving limit.
Fatal Vision goggles have a special lens technology that allows the wearer to experience a realistic simulation of impairment, affecting their balance, vision, reaction time, and judgment.
“The training includes inebriation exercises that emphasize that people do not have as much control as they might consciously think,” Graves said. “Physically, you are out of control.”
Participants of the corn hole game struggled to accurately toss their bags to their targets, often missing by considerable distances. While making them laugh at first, it clearly demonstrated the serious, debilitating effects of impairment.
“The other objective is having the Military Police be our law enforcement adjutant to give us an understanding of American law versus German law,” Graves said.
Although December is the designated month for the Holiday Drunk Driving Awareness Campaign, it is better to implement training early in the holiday season to proactively educate Soldiers on preventative measures to avoid DUIs, Foster said.
The United States’ legally impaired threshold while intoxicated is .08 percent. However, Germany’s Blood Alcohol Content measure is significantly lower – .05 percent, unless the driver is in an accident in which case that drops to .029 percent.
If a Polizei (German police) officer suspects someone of drinking and driving, it is within their jurisdiction to ask the driver to take a breathalyzer. If the driver refuses the breathalyzer, the Polizei will ask for a blood sample. If the driver refuses this, the Polizei can take it by force.
Sgt. Turner Andrews, a military police officer from the 561st Military Police Company, recommends that Soldiers do not take the risk.
“A BAC of .029% is very easy to catch,” Andrews said. “I wouldn’t chance it.”
Sgt. Ian Capps, also from the 561st Military Police Company, advised Reserve Soldiers to remember that off-duty incidents are punishable under UCMJ during Battle Assembly weekends.
“We have to report incidents to the Soldiers’ chain of command and until they’re off duty, they’re held to the same standards as their active duty counterparts,” Capps said.
The consequences of a military DUI generally fall into administrative or punitive actions, and commanding officers have a great deal of discretion on how to proceed. The best way to avoid those dire consequences, especially in Germany and other parts of Europe, is to not drink and drive – period.