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Marines May Be Required to Take Breathalyzer Tests

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Marines may be required to take Breathalyzer tests as part of an overall wellness program expected to be announced by U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. The Marine Corps Times reports the program, called the “21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative,” will address issues related to behavioral health, including substance abuse, suicide and sexual assault prevention, and other issues related to combat readiness.

Navy submarine commanders were authorized to use Breathalyzers as part of a crackdown on alcohol abuse in 2009, the newspaper reports. Since then, surface commanders have started using the alcohol detection devices to conduct random tests, and drunk-driving rates have decreased.

Last year, the newspaper reported that a survey to see how well alcohol use rules are being enforced among Marines could result in an increase in treatment for alcohol abuse. According to the article, the survey was prompted by the finding that many Marines who are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) are not screened for substance abuse counseling.

Of the 1,245 DUIs among enlisted Marines last year, 702 led to screenings, the article notes. Of those, 489 were sent to treatment. Of the 25 DUI cases among officers, 14 were screened and 11 entered treatment. Currently a unit commander decides whether to order a screening after a Marine is interviewed by a substance abuse control officer, according to the newspaper.

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