A DUI can have serious legal ramifications for anyone. If you’re an active duty service member charged with DUI, you could end up dealing with consequences in both civilian and military court.
The consequences depend in part on where the DUI arrest occurred. It’s essential to know and protect your rights in both jurisdictions.
A DUI arrest while off the base
If you’re arrested by civilian law enforcement officers while you’re in town or elsewhere outside of a military base, you will be charged just as any civilian would and have to deal with a civilian court. You could also face military administrative penalties.
These could include things like extra duty, loss of pass privileges and mandatory substance abuse treatment. You might also face military charges related to the incident for things like disorderly conduct. The military can also bring their own DUI charges in a court-martial after the civilian case is concluded – regardless of the outcome of that case.
A DUI arrest on the base
If you’re alleged DUI occurred while on a military installation, your commanding officer will decide what kind of consequences you face. They may recommend a court-martial or what are called “non-judicial punishments” as outlined in Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). They might also recommend solely administrative actions. These should not be underestimated and can include things like:
- Letter of reprimand
- Revocation of driving privileges
- Being barred from reenlisting
- Reduction in grade
If your DUI arrest occurred on the base, you won’t face a civilian DUI charge. However, you could be subject to other civilian penalties like the suspension of your driver’s license.
If you or a loved one is a service member facing a DUI charge, it’s wise to seek legal guidance to protect your rights in whichever jurisdiction(s) you find yourself facing consequences that could affect your career and your future.