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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Recent changes to U.S. Forces Korea traffic regulations lowered the blood alcohol content percentage for drunken driving, clarified the rules on cell phone usage and detailed the wear of helmets.

Area II law enforcement officials from the 94th Military Police Battalion explained the changes to U.S. Forces Korea Regulation 190-1, Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, during an interview Friday.

One major change is that the on-post blood alcohol content for drunken driving is now from .05 to .09 percent, lowered from .10 percent.

Maj. Charles K. Kang, deputy provost marshal, explained that the new standards now match Korean Traffic Law Article 41. He said the change was made to put USFK in line with the host nation laws.

If a driver registers between a .05 and .09 on post, officers will “presume the person is in violation of the Korean” law, according to a summary of the changes. Those violations are to be forwarded to the driver’s commander for action.

However, if a driver registers a .10 percent or higher blood alcohol content, he will be presumed in violation of Article 111 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Sgt. John La Schuma, assistant noncommissioned officer in charge of traffic accident investigation, said base residents need to be aware of the South Korean law and the fact that off-base police aggressively check for drunken drivers.

As an accident investigator, he often finds himself driving through Seoul for work. He said it’s not uncommon to go through two or three Korean sobriety checkpoints in one trip.

And the Korean police are “not going to wave” Americans through the checkpoints, he said.

La Schuma also hit a few of the other hot topics, including:

Cell phone usage: Drivers are not permitted to use a handheld cell phone while driving, but use of a hands-free device is authorized. Hands-free, according to the regulation, means a “speaker that is audible from within the vehicle compartment.” Earphones or headphones, very popular in South Korea, are not authorized on post because they “have the potential to cause the driver to be unable to hear approaching emergency vehicles.” La Schuma calls violations of the cell phone rules “very flagrant,” and wants to let the community know that “people are going to start receiving citations.”Headphone usage: People are not allowed to wear portable headphones, earphones or other “listening devices” while driving, jogging, walking, biking, skating or skateboarding on or near installation roads.Helmet usage: People biking, skating, skateboarding “or riding any motorized or non-motorized play vehicle” must wear a Department of Transportation certified helmet, according to the regulation. The helmet must be fastened under the chin and people must wear high-visibility “upper body garments” during the day and reflective material at night.La Schuma said the military police are “always vigilant” and will “take action when a violation is observed.”


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