What Happens if You are in the Military and Get Arrested for a DUI?


San Diego County is home to thousands of United States sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and other members of the United States military. While these folks are doing a great service to their country by serving in the military, some do get arrested for DUI. If you are in the military and get arrested for a DUI, you face punishment from your command and the State courts as well as possible separation from the military. You need an experienced DUI lawyer who has handled DUI’s involving people in the military to understand your options as well as get you the best results for your case.

Military Punishment

How the military deals with a DUI depends on a number of factors. If you are an officer, even a first time DUI can mean the loss of your commission and separation from the military. If you are an enlisted person, a first time DUI does not usually mean you are kicked out, unless you have other alcohol related incidents in your personnel jacket. However, if you have security clearance or have a job that cannot allow for any alcohol problems, say an air traffic controller, a first time DUI could mean the end of your career.

Every case is different, but, for a first time DUI you can usually expect one or more of several types of punishment from the military. You can be demoted, lose a month’s pay and be restricted to base or your ship. You will also probably have to go through a substance abuse evaluation and perhaps classes. The particular punishment is up to your command. Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that the DUI will result in a negative performance report. That and a demotion may make it difficult if not impossible for you to make rank by the age you are required to. That means your career may be cut short.

For a second or subsequent DUI, you are supposed to be kicked out. In fact, the rules about that were made more stringent just a few years ago. However, in some cases, your command can keep you if you are very valuable to them.

Whether it is a first or subsequent DUI, also keep in mind, right now the military is downsizing. So, if you give them a reason to boot you, they just might.

It is important to discuss all of this with an experienced DUI lawyer who has handled cases involving people in the military. They can best guide you on what to say if anything and how to deal with your command.

Court Punishment

Even if you have been slammed by the military, you still face the same punishment in civilian court as anyone else would. That can mean fines, jail time, classes, public work service and other punishment as well. It can be very helpful to your case if your lawyer has experience negotiating DUI cases with prosecutors and judges that involve people in the military. Keep track of and document everything that happens with your command and what action they take against you. This can be useful for your attorney in trying to negotiate the case. You also need to keep your attorney up to date on any upcoming deployments or transfers. The Court will usually try and work around them if possible.