Planning ahead saves holiday revelers from severe consequences
December 19, 2013
ANSBACH, Germany (Dec. 19, 2013) -- The holiday season in Germany presents a number of opportunities and reasons to celebrate. For many, celebrations may include consuming alcohol. The combination of drinking and driving, however, entails grave consequences.
Because drinking and driving can result in death and permanent injury, the legal, professional, financial and personal consequences are correspondingly severe for infractions.
The amount of alcohol a driver has in their system can result in different legal consequences. All U.S. drivers with a blood alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.079 will have their USAREUR license suspended for 90 days. Drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or more face at minimum a revocation of their license for one year, after which they may apply for -- but are not guaranteed -- reinstatement.
In addition to this, the driver's home state will be notified, which may result in the revocation of the driver's state license and issuance of fees. Of course, this depends on the laws of the driver's state.
Soldiers caught drinking and driving may be in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and can face nonjudicial action from their commander. Punishment can include loss of rank, loss of pay, extra duties and restriction to garrison.
Any level of intoxication sufficient to impair the mental or physical faculties of a Soldier who is driving can result in a court-martial. Punishment can include discharge, forfeiture of pay and allowances, and confinement.
Unlike service members, civilian employees and family members who drive with alcohol in their system fall under German law and can be subject to court orders and fines for thousands of euros.
The inability to drive due to a 90-day suspension or a one-year revocation of a USAREUR license means the former driver must rely on friends, family, taxis and public transportation to get where they need to go. This can add a costly strain on time and resources for that Soldier, civilian or family member. A Soldier might have to depend on a spouse to get them to early morning physical training. For some, it might take more than an hour to commute one way by public transportation rather than 15 minutes. Getting children to and from an extracurricular sports program might cost dozens of euros for the taxi service.
All these consequences can be avoided by planning ahead. Partygoers should appoint a responsible designated driver. If that driver decides not to uphold their responsibility and drinks, the group should already have a back-up plan, which could include public transportation or a taxi service. These options are less expensive than an auto accident or the other legal, financial and professional consequences of drinking and driving.
As an example of an alternative, U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt offers a vehicle pickup service to Soldiers who have consumed alcohol on weekend nights. Currently the program is seeking volunteer drivers and phone operators to staff a program aimed at reducing DUIs. To learn more, call 0173-794-2998 or 0160-987-98955 or visit Schweinfurt's Armed Forces Against Drunk Driving Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SchweinfurtAADD.
During the holiday season, there will be an increase in vigilance among law enforcement to catch violations.
According to Lt. Col. David A. Markiewicz, director of the Directorate of Emergency Services at USAG Ansbach, the military police are mandated by Army policy to conduct regular checkpoints to ensure sobriety behind the wheel, compliance with seatbelt laws and other compulsory safety checks.
For the military police desk at USAG Ansbach, call 09802-83-3855 or DSN 467-3855. For the military police desk at USAG Bamberg, call 0951-300-8700 or DSN 469-8700. For the military police desk at USAG Schweinfurt, call 09721-96-6766/6624 or DSN 354-6766/6624.
To learn more about the Ansbach Army Substance Abuse Program, call 09802-83-3342/1710 or DSN 467-3342/1710. To learn more about Bamberg ASAP, call 0951-300-1710 or DSN 469-1710. To learn more about Schweinfurt ASAP, call 09721-96-1710 or DSN 353-1710.