What increases your risk and warrants your attention? Driving after you’ve had a few drinks, because it can put you in serious danger. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 65 percent of people who died from alcohol-related accidents had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. An even more worrisome statistic from the NHTSA is that you are more likely to die from an alcohol-related driving accident between midnight and 3 a.m. The more you are on the road during those hours, even if you are sober, the more you are likely to find yourself in an alcohol-related accident.
Another related risk issue is your level of impairment. There are a number of factors that affect your impairment and increase the BAC in your bloodstream. The number of drinks you consume and how fast you consume them affect your BAC. Typically, your BAC will reach a higher level the faster you drink. Many have asked, “Does the type of alcohol I consume affect my blood alcohol concentration?” The answer is no. One five-ounce glass of wine is the same strength as one 12-ounce beer.
Mixing drugs and alcohol is also a dangerous act. Always remember that taking medication or illegal substances with alcohol highly increases your impairment. It decreases your ability to safely drive a motor vehicle, making you a danger to everyone on the road. Do not become a statistic. You are putting your life and the lives of others on the line if you drink and drive.
When employees are involved in an alcohol-related incident, they may find themselves being offered an Education Based Discipline agreement in lieu of suspension after an administrative investigation. Recognizing an alcohol problem or alcohol-related judgment issue prior to getting in trouble can take you off the EBD/discipline path. It can spare you from court hearings, expensive fees and fines, and attending court-mandated classes and meetings.
As your alcohol awareness coordinator, I continue to provide alcohol awareness trainings for deputy sheriff trainees, field training officers in FTO School, and newly promoted sergeants in Sergeant Supervisory School. There have been briefings at various custody and patrol facilities that I have attended. I facilitate the Substance Abuse Resource Program at Psychological Services Bureau (PSB).
If you need assistance with overuse or an addiction problem, or you have questions about the resources available, you can call PSB at (213) 738-3500. We have law enforcement psychologists and trained deputy personnel ready to provide confidential help to assist you. If you are sworn, Peace Officer’s Fellowship (POF) is available. You can contact one of the members listed here, and they will be more than happy to assist a fellow deputy.