GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Naval Security Force (NSF) Field Training Officers (FTO) underwent the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Recognition and Enforcement course aboard Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, (GTMO), Feb. 2-4.
During the training, the FTOs learned about methods for conducting the nationally recognized standard field sobriety test (SFST) battery and portable breathalyzer test (PBT).
The training concluded with a "wet lab", in which two volunteers drank varying amounts of alcohol, allowing the FTOs to practice the SFST and PBT on real-life subjects.
"This course offers trainees a more hands-on experience in a controlled environment," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Jeremy Snyder, NSF GTMO DUI and SFST instructor. "[The FTOs] learned about the facts behind DUIs and the clues to look for to detect one."
A SFST comprises a walk-and-turn, a one-leg stand, and a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test.
Alcohol-related nystagmus occurs when a person's eyes lag and overcorrect with a jerking movement while following an object, such as a pen. The person exhibiting the nystagmus is unaware that it is occurring because it does not affect vision, according to NHTSA.
FTOs also learned signs of drunken driving, including swerving off of the road or over the center line, stopping several feet before or past a stop sign, driving 10 or more miles per hour slower than the speed limit, following too closely, or having the vehicle's headlights off at night," said Snyder.
Following the detection of these signs, patrolmen may pull a vehicle over and look for preliminary signs of drunken driving, including the smell of alcohol coming from the driver, empty alcohol containers inside the vehicle, and other immediate physical signs that a driver has been drinking, in accordance with DD Form 1920, an Alcohol Incident Report.
If a patrolman has reason to suspect drunken driving, he or she can conduct a SFST on the driver.
With operating a vehicle aboard GTMO, a driver has given implied consent to the SFST, according to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Instruction (NAVSTAGTMOINST) 11200.1A, Motor Vehicle and Traffic Regulations.
Using SFSTs and PBTs to detect drunken driving aboard GTMO is one of the ways NSF GTMO ensures unsafe drivers stay off the roads, said Snyder.
"You don't necessarily have to have a blood alcohol content of 0.05 to 0.08 [percent] to be considered impaired," said Snyder.
According to section 413 of NAVSTAGTMOINST 11200.1A, impaired driving is defined as any physiological, psychological, or perceptual effects that render a person unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.
A person who has been drinking alcohol will show signs of being impaired with a BAC as low as 0.03 percent, according to NHTSA.
"It doesn't take much to get a DUI," said Snyder. "Even at 0.05 percent, these guys [patrolmen] can pick up on clues and can apprehend someone driving under the influence."
In addition to possibly being apprehended, a drunken driving offense can have a negative effect on a Sailor's career, said Snyder.
"You can go to traffic court, get your license revoked, lose base driving privileges, be debarred from base, lose your job, and face non-judicial punishment," said Snyder. "[These consequences] are bad for people on base whose job requires them to drive every day."
Snyder said that on a remote base like GTMO, there is no reason for a person to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
"There are enough safeguards in place [here]," said Snyder. "You can use the public transportation system, call your supervisor to come get you, or designate a driver."
Following the course, the FTOs returned to their sections and began training their patrolmen on DUI recognition and enforcement.
"This training gave me knowledge of specifics I didn't know about before," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Brandon Morrison, NSF GTMO FTO. "I am going to train my section in the proper way to do DUI traffic stops to promote a safer environment for all of us."
Morrison said that after training his section on DUI recognition and enforcement, he hopes to see a drop in the number of alcohol-related driving incidents on base, and said this training will give Sailors attached to NSF GTMO a tool for a successful future.
"If the Sailors decide to leave the Navy and join civilian law enforcement, they'll have prior knowledge of DUI recognition and enforcement," said Morrison. "If they stay in the Navy, it's a skill they will use at any command."
More information about impaired driving and SFSTs can be found at NHTSA.gov.
For more news from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, visit www.navy.mil/local/guantanamo/.