By Mr. Michael M Novogradac (Hood)May 31, 2016
WEST FORT HOOD, Texas -- Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, a few Army civilians learned their flair for walking the straight and narrow quickly declines after a few alcoholic drinks.
While wearing "drunk goggles," taking to the hallway to finesse their way through a field sobriety test was no easy feat for Operational Test Command's resource management office.
Drinking and driving is the most socially-acceptable crime, according to Staff Sgt. Kevin W. Nyman, traffic NCOIC of the 89th Military Police Brigade's 178th Law and Order Detachment.
"People are going to do what they want to do," Nyman said. "You can always put training together. You can always train and re-train -- They're going to be, 'Ahhh … it was just one beer.' Or, 'I only had four beers.' And they'll always say to themselves, 'I'm fine to drive. I don't feel intoxicated.'
The reason people behave this way, said Nyman, is because the alcohol level hasn't fully reached its maximum potential of intoxication in the body.
"You're still on the climb," he said. "The only thing that is going to reduce your chances of getting a DWI is to wait it out."
What Nyman suggests is to wait one hour for every alcoholic drink a person consumes before even thinking about driving.
He also added there is always the tried-and-true, failsafe designated driver, and even abstinence.
"The Army is very repetitive with its message," Nyman said. "At end-of-week formations … you know … don't drink and drive."
At any rate, the day's seasonal safety training at OTC contained only Army Civilians, which was a little unusual. "Soldiers are always going to come and go," Nyman said. "Civilians stay and are the continuity on the installation. So, they need this training as well."
One Civilian said the training truly reinforced what she already knew after having previously served as a Soldier. "I always have a plan whenever I go out," said Joann Courtland, supervisory financial management analyst in OTC's Resource Management Office. "Between my husband and I, we will take turns being the designated driver, or we make a plan to be dropped off.
"It's non-negotiable -- I have too much to lose," she added. "There's so many avenues out there for you to get home that you do not need to get behind the wheel."
A retired 58-D Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot, Courtland said the "drunk goggles" were spatially-disorienting.
"There would be no way I would get behind the wheel," she said. "Looking at the inside of your car, which you look at every day … and it seems so distorted. Why would you consider trying to drive home?"
During 2014, 9,976 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, or 30.5 percent of all traffic deaths, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association.
A first DWI offense can cost up to a $2,000; three to 180 days in jail, loss of driver license up to one year, and an annual fee to retain driving privileges costing thousands of dollars for three years.
All fines, jail time and other associated costs go up for subsequent DWI offenses, not to mention, the biggest cost of all would be an alcoholic-related traffic injury or death.
All people driving on Fort Hood are subject to Texas Penal Coad 49.04 which uses a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 or more. Article 112 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice covers being drunk on duty and being either drunk or impaired. Both Soldiers and Civilians are encouraged to become familiar with Fort Hood Regulation 210-65.
It is always a good idea to keep a cab company's phone number handy, while one service in and around Fort Hood is "No DUI of Killeen," which is free and confidential; runs Fridays and Saturdays from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. by calling (844) 636-5463.