The United States Navy has announced that it will begin conducting random blood-alcohol tests on its sailors in the United States. The new policy is an effort to address alcohol abuse and its effects on the force. Under the new rules, any sailor who reports for duty with a blood-alcohol level of .04 (half the legal limit) will not be allowed to work. A positive test will not lead to punishment, but the Navy may use the test to refer a sailor to a drug and alcohol program advisor.
The United States Marine Corp has already announced that it will pursue a similar policy. Navy officials hope that the test will spot sailors who need help before an incident occurs instead of afterward. The policy will also raise awareness of a crew’s culture of alcohol use and act as a safety measure against destructive and risky behaviors like suicide and sexual assault. In a pilot program the Navy instituted this summer, 87 of 7,500 randomly tested sailors tested positive for alcohol. The Navy has also started conducting urine tests for synthetic drugs, and those who test positive will be subject to punishment.
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