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’Tis the season to be safe and sober – and not a statistic

Image of a car wreck being towed away. A crushing and all too preventable loss…NHB/NMRTC Bremerton provided a visual reminder on the deadly dangers of drinking and driving posting the remains of what used to be a new car, demolished by the drunk driver after speeding over 90 miles per hours, causing a collision, and killing the passenger. (Photo by Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton.)

‘Tis the season to be safe and sober, not dangerous and drunk and end up as some statistic.

If that’s not sobering enough, then what is?

The goal for Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Bremerton is to ensure everyone’s upcoming holiday season is overflowing with festive cheer and not filled with consequences from bad decisions.

NMRTC Bremerton command leadership recently addressed safety concerns concerning drinking and driving, along with emphasizing the continual need to avoid complacency in helping stop the spread of COVID-19. The message is one that applies throughout the military.

Navy Master Chief Robert Stockton, NMRTC Bremerton’s command master chief, is taking the lead in communicating the seriousness of drinking and driving, noting there is one specific detail common to every alcohol-related incident.

“They are all preventable,” said Stockton, adding that some staff members have expressed confusion in knowing how much consumption of an alcoholic beverage was too much.

“We need to make sure we educate ourselves,” stressed Stockton. 

A five-ounce glass of wine (12% alcohol) will get your BAC up to 0.2. So will 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor, one 12-ounce can of beer (5% alcohol), or a 12-ounce wine cooler (5% alcohol).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there’s a noticeable difference between men and women when it comes to BAC: 

  • For a male with a body weight of 160 pounds, two drinks can have his approximate BAC at .05, which is considered impaired. Two more push his BAC to .09 and legally intoxicated.
  • For a female with a body weight of 160 pounds, one drink has her impaired at .04, and one more in that 60-minute span have her legally intoxicated with a BAC of .08.

“There are severe consequences for getting a DUI. There’s nonjudicial punishment (NJP). That process can affect someone’s higher tenure,” said Stockton, noting that along with the disciplinary measure from the command, a person saddled with a DUI also has to deal with civilian court fines, the impact on their driving record and much more expensive insurance rates.

“But the really big issue is how it impact people’s lives. How much is that worth? We have a responsibility to keep people safe,” said Stockton.

Stockton also strongly advocates that there are options to driving drunk.

“Look, there’s alternatives. Make a plan,” he said. “There are options besides driving yourself if you’ve been drinking. Have a designated driver. There’s available transportation that will pick you and drive you where you want to go. You can call your chain of command. Our command has a safe ride program, too.”

Navy Capt. Shannon Johnson, NMRTC Bremerton commanding officer, said her least favorite part of being a commanding officer is holding NJP, especially involving an alcohol related incident. 

“It is particularly concerning when I have a DUI case before me. The consequences are always very serious, and often career impacting,” she said. “I am also aware that consequences could be far worse than standing before me at NJP. Those who drive under the influence run the risk of having to stand in a courtroom and face the family of someone they killed or injured, and ultimately having to serve time in prison, all because of one irresponsible decision. I want every member of my command to understand how serious this is.

“I care about all of you. It’s a team effort to help everyone make good decisions. Do not let anyone put themselves in a situation that will have life altering consequences.”

Stockton also emphasized the need for intervention.

“If there is a shipmate there to prevent someone – anyone – from driving after drinking, we need them to step up and intervene,” he said. “Don’t allow it to happen. Prevention is a responsibility for all of us. Leadership, we’re charging you to stay engaged with your Sailors. Have the conversation. Look out for each other. Take care of one another. Set the right tone.”

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