The Consequences for DUI in the Military
Copyright © 2009 StraightDUI.com
Recent studies have shown a dramatic increase in “alcohol abuse” among those on active duty. In fact, in one study it was revealed that military personnel are more likely to drink more heavily than those who are not in the military. Because of the high criterion of a military person, they face greater consequences in regard to DUI than a civilian.
Facing a Military DUI
As you probably already know, DUI is a very serious offense, but when faced with a DUI while serving in the military, it means the consequences can and usually are much more severe. If someone who is a member of the armed forces finds him or herself facing a Military DUI charge, there are a number of differences regarding a military DUI compared to a civilian DUI charge. The first difference is that when a person is in the military, their case is tried in a military court, which has a different criterion for evaluating the state’s legal blood alcohol level. In fact, in a military court, if the blood alcohol limit is lower than the state’s legal limit, it doesn’t necessarily matter. Why? Because if the military court feels that the blood alcohol level was high enough to impair the ability of the person driving a vehicle, they can be charged with a military DUI. Intoxicated in the military is defined as the presence in the blood of any amount of alcohol, however small. It is very possible for a military person to be DUI or DWI even if a Breathalyzer or BAT (blood alcohol test) discloses that the blood alcohol concentration is considerably below the state’s legal level.
Must You Have a Military Attorney for a DUI in the Military?
While it’s always best to have an attorney represent you in any DUI case, unlike a civilian DUI, a military court tries the military DUI. What that means to the person in the military is that their attorney must understand military law and military DUI. In addition, when appearing in a civilian court case, the case may stretch out over a long period of time, whereas in a military DUI, the courts move much faster. Besides being over quicker, the sentencing can be more severe. For example, in a civilian DUI trial, most sentences are focused on community service, jail time, fines, loss of license, and taking DUI classes. In a military DUI, it’s the court that decides on sentencing and can result in anything from dishonorable discharge, to a rank reduction, pay deduction, loss of security clearance, fines and imprisonment.
A Military Career and a Military DUI
Anyone in the military facing a DUI can expect that it will destroy their military career. The reason? Because a dishonorable discharge usually and often occurs when a military person is arrested for a DUI, and that means a career in the military will probably end. There are times when the relationship of the service person with their commanding officer can have an affect on the end result, but more often than not, an alcohol related arrest bears great consequences. If a person in the military faces a court-martial because of military DUI charges, their good name, along with their military career, benefits and freedom are at great risk. More than likely a positive alcohol test will lead to the end of a military career in addition to federal conviction and jail time. It is for that reason that a good military DUI attorney should be there to represent the person in the military. It can help a client receive an acquittal or possibly a reduced sentence thereby saving their military careers.