NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson's (CVN 70) safety department simulated sobriety testing with Vinson Sailors and Northrop Grumman Newport News (NGNN) shipyard employees in the ship’s hangar bay Sept. 22.
Using vision impairment goggles to create the effect of being under the influence of alcohol, safety department representatives gave participants a feel of what it's like to be under the influence of alcohol with different levels of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), and then undergoing a sobriety test conducted by Vinson physical security personnel.
“We want to show people how alcohol can affect them, and then let them see what it’s like firsthand to get pulled over and have to take a sobriety test,” said Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SW) Kymberli Brzyski, Vinson's Safety Department traffic safety coordinator. “Some of the most common things you hear from people who are charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence) are ‘I thought I had things under control,' ‘I only had one drink,' or ‘I didn’t think it would happen to me.’”
Participants used goggles to simulate the effects of alcohol at levels that ranged from having one drink to being three times over Virginia's legal limit of .08. Impairment levels were put to the test as Vinson Sailors tried to walk a straight line, legibly write their name, or catch a football. Many participants said the event was an eye-opening experience.
“This makes me not want to go and do something like drink and drive,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman John Bradley Webb IV, of Vinson’s Supply Department.
For other Vinson Sailors, the incentive is their Navy career and pay.
“It would be pretty ridiculous to think you could drive with your vision impaired like that,” said Airman Thomas Garcia, of Vinson’s Weapons Department. “It’s not worth my career, money or life.”
Representatives from Vinson’s Legal Department were on location to offer Sailors legal advice and to explain the consequences of a DUI conviction.
“Sailors will get arrested and go to jail if they fail a sobriety test,” said Legalman 1st Class (SW/AW) Anthony Hernandez. “As soon as they are released from jail, they will be escorted to the ship as a custody turnover. We will do our investigation and if they are found to have committed the offense, they will be written up and there will be a (Non Judicial Punishment) or a court martial.”
Hernandez said Vinson Sailors who are charged with DUI will receive the maximum allowable punishment from the command.
“They can look forward to a possible (45 days on restriction and 45 days of extra duty), and reduction in rank by one pay grade,” said Hernandez. “If they go to a summary court martial they are looking at a possible 30-days confinement in the brig.”
Vinson Sailors have some options to help them avoid DUIs, which include not drinking, using a designated driver, and the Carl Vinson “Free Ride” program. Free ride cards can be obtained through individual departments and can be used for a free taxi cab ride home for Sailors who find themselves in a situation where they are under the influence of alcohol and shouldn't drive.
“The best option for Vinson Sailors who are going to drink is the Free Ride program,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW) Christopher Hubbel, Safety Department leading petty officer. “There aren’t any repercussions for using them, and it will get Sailors home without doing harm to themselves or anyone else.”
With the combination of fines, court costs, and the loss of a driver’s license, the cost of one DUI is between $5,000 and $20,000. Blood Alcohol Concentration levels between .02 and .07 are considered as DWI in Virginia. Levels of .08 to .14 will result with a driver’s license being suspended for one year. A person with a .15 to .19 BAC will receive a mandatory sentence of five days in jail, and a .20 or higher BAC will receive 10 days in jail.
Vinson Safety Department is currently working on a survey that will be used to find Gold Eagle Sailors who are responsible and are willing to be on call to give rides home to other shipmates who may be under the influence of alcohol. Hubbel said Safety will continue to find ways to reach out to Carl Vinson Sailors and get the point across.
“Using the vision impairment goggles is a way to enlighten the minds of the Sailors to the effects of alcohol and the risks of driving under the influence,” said Hubbel. “It’s a fun and entertaining way to present the serious realities of drinking and driving.”
Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.