Cost of drinking, driving can exceed bar tab

Ever wonder about the true cost of that last beer, mixed drink or glass of wine at dinner? You may think it only costs the €3.50 that the menu indicates, but if you drive drunk the actual cost may be substantially more than expected.

Consider this hypothetical case. Spc. Snuffy has three years of service, passed his promotion board, and will be up for E5 next month. As an E5, Spc. Snuffy’s base pay will jump from $2,123 to $2,337.

After passing the board, Spc. Snuffy goes out to celebrate and consumes two extra drinks. On his way home, the Polizei pull him over and administer a breathalyzer.  Spc. Snuffy blows a Blood Alcohol Content  of .11 percent.
As a result, Spc. Snuffy is given a field grade Article 15 and issued a general officer memorandum of reprimand, which is permanently filed in his official military personnel file.

At his Article 15 hearing, Spc. Snuffy, due to his level of intoxication (over twice the German legal limit), is found guilty. The punishment includes a reduction in rank from E4 to E1, the forfeiture of one-half month’s pay for two months, and extra duty for 45 days. The forfeiture alone will cost Spc.  Snuffy $1,466.

Pvt. Snuffy will likely spend the next 12 months climbing back from E1 to E4, and then another eight to 12 months until he can sit for the E5 promotion board. As he works back up to his former rank of E4, the reduced pay will cost him roughly $7,590.  In the next eight months, while Spc. Snuffy waits to take the board again, he will lose an additional $2,989 in pay. The total cost to Spc. Snuffy in the first two years alone will be $12,045 or $6,022.50 per drink.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, an OMPF-filed GOMOR can greatly reduce a Soldier’s ability to be promoted to E7 and beyond. Assuming that Spc. Snuffy makes E7 but is then passed over for E8 due to the GOMOR, he will eventually retire as an E7.

What difference would this make in retirement for a 20-year career? At a difference of $213 a month ($2,556 a year) over the course of a post-military, 35 year life expectancy, Spc. Snuffy will lose $89,460.  The total loss to Spc. Snuffy for his extra two drinks comes to $101,505 or $50,752.50 per drink.
Consume that last beer and you could be Spc. Snuffy.

Larger and stronger beers in Germany, along with deeper glasses of wine, provide a dangerous combination resulting in over 60 DUIs for the Stuttgart military community in the last 12 months. Sadly, each of these DUIs was fully preventable, and the repercussions for many of the service members will continue to be felt into the indefinite future.

So remember, the next time you decide to have that extra drink, it may cost you considerably more than you think — for your wallet —  and your career.