Navy Commander Cracks Down on Drinking and DUI

navyCommander of the U.S. Navy Region Southwest has issued guidelines for alcoholic consumption by sailors, and initiated a tough policy for those who do not follow them. The actions of Rear Admiral Len Hering stem from a concerns over drunk driving and alcohol driven violent crime involving sailors. It is also meant to address what he describes as "alcohol’s negative impact on operational readiness."

The region under his command covers ten California and Nevada Naval bases, including the huge complex in San Diego. The new guidelines and low tolerance to driving while intoxicated (DUI) arrests affect approximately 178,000 sailors, Navy civilians, students and contractors, and 63,477 family members.

The policy, referred to as ‘0-0-0-1-3’, better defines ‘responsible consumption’ for sailors and their commanders. The numbers represent zero drinks for those under 21, zero drinks when driving, zero drinks while on duty, one drink per hour and a total of three drinks per night.
As part of this new policy, there will an aggressive anti-DUI stance. It includes a one-year ban on base driving privileges for all sailors, Navy civilians or anyone else with base access caught drinking and driving, either on and off base.

That means closer coordination with local police departments. Currently there is no reporting procedure in place, which means many off base DUI arrests occur without the knowledge of the base command. In turn, the sailor arrested for DUI often avoids Navy penalties. Under the new procedure, police records will be checked to ensure "those individuals who are stopped outside the fence line are held accountable by their commands."

Twelve DUI arrests were recorded at San Diego’s four Navy bases during July. Seven of the cases involved sailors and the remainder were civilians.

According to Hering the three zeros of the policy are common sense. Under age drinking is against the law, drinking and driving don’t mix, and it is against military law to be drunk while on duty. Hering expands on the later point saying drinking, and even hangovers, while on duty endangers fellow sailors.

The 1 and 3 portion of the policy is meant to be a guideline to determine if one is drinking to excess. The goal is to identify those who may need counseling or treatment. By moderating the severity of discipline, it is hoped that the shipmates will intervene and help those with drinking problems.

It’s "the mindset we need to change," Hering said. "The Triple-Zero One-Three policy now defines for them what we should tolerate and still be in an environment where I can trust my life or my son’s life or my daughter’s life to their judgment."

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