What Happens When Someone in the Military Gets a DUI Off Base

Posted by Richard Lawson | Feb 09, 2017 | 0 Comments

If you are stopped for a DUI off base, you may wonder, does the process differ for servicemen? In short, it doesn't. You may have heard anecdotes about traffic stops from your coworkers, that an officer will soften up when shown your CAC card. E-1's can be heard enthusing in mess hall conversations, “Police love us!” If the legend of preferential treatment is true, it is probably specific to trivial roadside violations. Where large-scale offenses are concerned, outside the jurisdiction of base you will undergo the same processes as a civilian. This includes the process when one is suspected of driving under the influence. Only later punitive action will involve your leadership, assuming the situation reaches that point. If you are stopped for a DUI off base, here is what you will need to know.

Off-base, you'll be subject to all state DUI laws and go through the legal process as a civilian. The military may levy additional punishments against you, but this varies by branch and can be a sticky process if you challenge it. The Air Force will usually implement the 1-year suspension for all DUI offenses, on or off base. Reduction of driving privileges for other branches will vary.

One important thing to be aware of is that, on rare occasions, servicemen may also be subject to a court-martial, despite the double jeopardy rule. Double jeopardy means that you cannot be charged for the same crime more than once - (on and off your installation, for example). However, a state law crime of DUI is different than a military crime of DUI. What this means for you is if you were already prosecuted by civilian authorities, it will be extremely difficult for you to be court-martialed on base -- but it is not impossible. This situation may only occur if your command goes to great lengths and petitions certain administrative authorities, OR if you refuse the terms of your Article 15/Non Judicial Punishment and request a court-martial.

However, in general, if your case is resolved in civilian court, you will only be subject to non-judicial punitive action from your leadership. This could include a letter of reprimand, bar to re-enlistment, reduction in pay grade, and driving privileges as discussed above, revocation of pass privileges, or referral to a substance abuse treatment program. As said, you could challenge this Article 15/NJP, but that will require your civilian-settled court case to head to trial again, this time on base, and using all the same evidence presented in the civilian trial. The penalties exacted by your leadership may not end there, though, it is not unheard of for military DUI offenders to be separated from service, but it is not a guaranteed penalty either. Offenses and those who committed them will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

If you are arrested for a DUI off-base, you will be subject to all applicable civilian penalties without exception. These could include loss of license, fines, or jail time if convicted. If you are arrested on base and have been charged with a DUI in Muscogee County, call us for immediate help. Your best course of action whether arrested on or off base is simply recruiting an excellent Georgia DUI Defense Attorney who will fight for your rights in the courtroom. Contact our office today and get a free case consultation.

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Richard Lawson

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