Life as an active-duty servicemember can be tough, and many soldiers and sailors choose to use alcohol as a way to relax. But if you enjoy yourself too much, a DUI could turn a night of fun into problems for you and your career in the armed forces. Find out how drunk driving will affect your military service record.
This blog post will examine how a state drunk driving conviction will affect your military service record. It will address whether drunk driving is a court martial offense, and how the terms of your probation could affect your ability to complete your military assignment.
Drunk Driving Can Lead to Charges on Base and Off
Drunk driving is illegal everywhere in the U.S. — on and off base. A DUI can result in state or military prosecution, depending on where the drunk driving happened. In Colorado, driving under the influence can lead to a misdemeanor DUI conviction and penalties of:
- 5 days to 1 year in jail
- $600 – 1,000 in fines
- 9 months driver’s license suspension
- 48-96 hours of community service
A higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or repeat offenses will increase the penalties and can add the requirements of:
- Installing an ignition interlock on your vehicle
- Attending alcohol education classes
DUI can also be considered a felony if you have a history of three or more prior DUI or related convictions.
A state DUI conviction can also result in administrative punishments from your commanding officer, including a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR), an Article 15, corrective training, revocation of pass privileges, or a referral to an alcohol abuse treatment program.
When an active-duty servicemember is charged with DUI on one of Colorado’s several military bases, he or she may be charged in the military courts under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and subject to Article 15 nonjudicial punishment (sometimes called “Office Hours” or “Captain’s Mast”) or court martial process. You may also face administrative actions, including:
- Letter of reprimand
- Revocation of privileges
- Reduction in pay grade
- Bar to reenlistment
- Mandatory substance abuse treatment
- Separation proceedings for second offenses within 1 year
DUI Consequences Make Military Service Difficult
For active-duty servicemembers, it isn’t just the DUI conviction that can cause problems. Often, the terms of the sentence or probation can interfere with a servicemember’s assigned duties. That can cause military consequences all on its own. This can include:
- Driver’s license suspensions interfering with assigned transportation duties
- DUI convictions affecting your ability to carry a firearm
- Probation reporting requirements interfering with deployment or training assignments
If you cannot do your assigned duties because of a DUI conviction, you may quickly find yourself reassigned, and you may not like your new position.
How Drunk Driving Will Affect Your Military Service Record
Military courts-martial for drunk driving carry stricter requirements and more severe consequences than state court convictions. But no matter where your DUI charges happen, drunk driving will affect your military service record. A DUI conviction can result in military consequences including separation proceedings that could cause you to receive a less-than-honorable discharge.
In other cases, disciplinary demotion could cause your military service to end sooner than you thought. When you face a reduction in grade, your experience in military service could butt up against high year tenure policies. Your DUI may also keep you from receiving any future promotions, so you won’t be able to reenlist once you reach tenure and will be administratively processed instead. That could affect your entitlement to military pension and other benefits, even after you leave the service.
A drunk driving conviction can make anyone’s life more difficult. The consequences of even a first offense can interfere with career and life plans and send you off-course. But for active-duty military servicemembers, the consequences are even greater. If you are military personnel and facing state drunk driving charges, it is essential that you have an attorney who understands all the risks and can advise you properly before you take any deal.
At Aviso Law, LLC, our criminal defense attorney Ryan Coward is a veteran himself. We know how to address state criminal and court-martial issues for service-members facing DUI charges for drunk driving. We are here to serve you and will see you through the civilian criminal court process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.