Alcohol testing devices expected this spring

As part of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, the Chief of Naval Operations released guidance Jan. 22 regarding the use of hand-held alcohol detection devices (ADDs) for on-duty Sailors and military members assigned to Navy units.

OPNAV Instruction 5350.8 establishes the policies and procedures for the use of ADDs, but leaves individual implementation plans up to unit commanders.

“We won’t receive these devices before the end of April, first of May,” said Chief Electronics Technician Randy Eddington, Naval Base Ventura County’s drug and alcohol program advisor (DAPA). “Right now, we’re working with the Skipper to develop a plan for how the installation will use this new tool.”

ADDs will add to the command’s education and prevention tools, rather than usurp them, Eddington adds. Nor will they be used for punitive action.

“Our focus is prevention and treatment, not punishment,” he explained.

According to the instruction, a blood alcohol count (BAC) of 0.04 is the benchmark “for determining readiness” to safely perform work. Those found meeting or exceeding that benchmark reading may be referred to the DAPA and will be relieved of duty and held on station until their BAC drops to a level safe for travel. For underage Sailors or those who have completed alcohol rehabilitation programs, the benchmark is a BAC of 0.02.

Sailors in a leave or liberty status are not subject to ADD testing under this instruction.

More guidance regarding implementation and testing procedures will be issued on a command-by-command basis at the discretion of each unit’s commanding officer.

© 2013 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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CAPT. LARRY VASQUEZ

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