Ready, set, drink! Event tests realities of

Story and photos by Airman 1st Class Tony R. Ritter
435th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

***image1***“Drinkers! Charge your glasses!,” was the call that was made every hour, launching the drinking participants to the bar for another round of drinks. The participants were part of a controlled experiment testing the reliability of the 0-0-1-3 formula.

The 0-0-1-3 formula was developed in 2004 and adopted by the Culture of Responsible Choices organization.

“The goal of the 0-0-1-3 formula was to define what responsible drinking is,” said Capt. Ebon Alley, KMC CoRC action officer. “People enter the Air Force with various definitions of responsible drinking and it is important to give everyone a specific definition based on laws and science.”

The numbers stand for zero alcohol related incidents, zero DWIs/DUIs, one drink per hour, three drinks per night. 

“However, 0-0-1-3 is not a formula to be used for Airmen to decide if they can drive.  Everyone responds differently to alcohol, and one drink is not worth the risk of putting you or others in harm’s way,” said Col. Gus Green, 435th Air Base Wing vice commander. “What we’re asking of Airmen is to reexamine their beliefs about drinking. You don’t have to go out and get smashed to have a good time. By keeping your BAC at a moderate range, you significantly reduce your risk of making dangerous decisions, like getting behind the wheel of a car or getting into a fight.”

During the CoRC’s Black and White Party Aug. 29, a 0-0-1-3 experiment was conducted. Four different Airmen volunteered to compare the impact of consuming standard drinks (defined as a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor) versus a 16-ounce German pint of beer. In accordance with 0-0-1-3, the four Airmen consumed only one drink per hour for three hours. Once their bodies had time to absorb their third drink, they voluntarily partici-pated in a field sobriety test and were breathalyzed by trained security forces personnel.

***image2***Drinker No. 1 was a 200-pound male who was drinking a German beer which was 5.5 percent alcohol by volume. Drinker No. 2 was another 200-pound male, drinking a domestic beer which has approximately 4.6 percent ABV.

Drinker No. 3 was a 135-pound female, drinking a shot of liquor which was 43.5 percent  ABV. Drinker No. 4 was another 135-pound female, drinking wine which was approximately 11 percent ABV. The drinkers enjoyed their three drinks over a three-and-a-half-hour period during the party.

As the party crowd huddled around them on the dance floor, security forces members lined up the willing participants to administer a typical field sobriety test. This included a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which allows law enforcement to examine the eye’s reaction to stimulus to determine alcohol use.

“All the participants failed the horizontal gaze nystagmus test and only the participant who was drinking the domestic beer was able to pass the one-legged stand, walk and turn test,” said Capt. Patrick Gordon, 435th Security Forces Squadron assistant operations officer, who oversaw the testing. “By these results, all of the participants’ keys would have been confiscated in a real-world situation.”

Next, the security forces team administered a breathalyzer test to the drinkers. Drinker No. 4, drinking wine, blew a .027. Drinker No. 3, drinking shots of liquor, blew a .021. Drinker No. 2, drinking domestic beer, blew a .023. And Drinker No. 1, drinking German beer, blew a .048.

All the participants were surprised with the results.

“I didn’t expect my blood alcohol content to be that high after only three drinks in three hours,” commented Drinker No. 1. “I know my limits a little better now.”

“This experiment was an eye-opener! Even though I felt completely sober, the effects of the alcohol were still obvious to the security forces personnel,” said Drinker No. 4.

“Living in Germany opens up a lot of potential risks to our Airmen when it comes to alcohol,” said Colonel Green. “Between the drinking age and the huge difference in alcohol content, Airmen cannot just go out thinking the same standards apply as in the states. But by making smart decisions, understanding how your body responds to alcohol and knowing the guidelines, we can be safe and enjoy ourselves at the same time.”

At the end of the night, the participants left with a sober wingman, the party crowd dispersed with a story to tell, and the 0-0-1-3 formula left with calculated results,

courtesy of the volunteers and science.