Can you be charged with DUI on a military base? What will happen if your drunk driving crosses over onto federal property? Understanding how alcohol-related offenses apply to civilians, soldiers, and sailors on Colorado’s military bases may help you make smart decisions, and better equip you to defend against future drunk driving charges.
Colorado has the 11th highest percentage of its population living on a military base of any state. Approximately 60,000 people serve on the state’s six military bases, not to mention all the military families and civilian government employees who spend significant time there. With such a large population living and working on and around military bases, the issue of drunk driving and DUI on a military base comes up often. Here’s what you should know.
Can Civilians Be Charged with DUI on a Military Base?
Drunk driving is illegal everywhere – on- and off-base. However, the consequences for civilians charged with DUI on government property can depend on whether the base in question counts as a military reservation. If you are charged with DUI on a military base under exclusive federal government control, your drunk driving will result in federal criminal charges. (Colorado’s national parks and some federal government offices are considered federal property. DUIs in these locations can also result in federal convictions.) On other military installations, the military and civilian police share concurrent jurisdiction. This means you could face DUI charges in either state or federal court, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Colorado DUI Charges and Federal Assimilative Crimes
Colorado Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) are state-level crimes that can result in serious consequences, including up to one year in jail, 5 years probation, 96 hours of community service, and $1,000 – $1,500 in fines. A second state DUI conviction has a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail, while a third DUI conviction increases that time to at least 60 days. You can also be charged with DUI if you were driving under the influence of intoxicating drugs. There are also driver’s license consequences through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Following a drunk driving conviction, you may need to use an interlock ignition device just to drive your vehicle.
If you are charged with DUI on a military base or other federal land the federal government can impose those same charges against you using a law called the Assimilative Crimes Act. This law adds to the potential consequences under the state DUI statutes. You could face up to an additional year imprisonment for DUI on federal property. If your drunk driving results in serious injury to a minor, that amount is increased to 5 years. Federal DUI cases involving the death of a minor can add up to 10 additional years to state charges, as well as additional fines.
Military DUI Consequences for Servicemembers
If you are an active-duty servicemember a drunk driving conviction is a big deal, in state or federal courts. Drunk driving can result in a military court-martial and separation proceedings that could endanger your military service record, tenure, and future military pension. This is in addition to any state or federal DUI charges and criminal consequences related to your actions. Because many military commanders take a wait-and-see approach to military DUI consequences, you may face military discipline even after your criminal case has been resolved. Be sure your DUI defense attorney understands the consequences of those disciplinary proceedings – from a letter of reprimand to a dishonorable discharge – so you don’t make a tactical error by accepting a plea agreement in state court that will hurt your military defense later on.
Get Help from a Military DUI Attorney
Defending against federal DUI charges can be more difficult than a similar criminal case in state court. Many attorneys who take state drunk and drugged driving cases aren’t familiar with the processes and sentencing structures in place in federal court. If you have been charged with DUI on a military base, you want to work with lawyers who are familiar with both the state and federal systems.
At Aviso Law, LLC, our criminal defense attorney Ryan Coward is a veteran himself. We know how to defend state and federal DUI charges, as well as court-martial issues for servicemembers charged with DUI on a military base. We are here to serve you and will see you through the civilian criminal court process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.