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How could a DUI affect my military career?

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2022 | Military Law |

The military has a zero-tolerance policy for active-duty service members who drink and drive. An arrest or conviction for drunk or drugged driving can ruin your military career and even result in a dishonorable discharge.

If you are pulled over and arrested for DUI while driving off base, you risk facing civilian penalties as well as military discipline under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Consulting a military defense attorney as soon as possible is the best way to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

Possible consequences for a military DUI

Under California law, anyone operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher faces a DUI charge. However, military members can face disciplinary proceedings if any amount of alcohol is detected in their system. Each branch has its own policies on prosecuting DUIs, but the two main areas affecting a career are:

  • Military members can face court-martial proceedings in addition to civilian punishments, including fines, jail time, court fees, increased insurance rates and other penalties.
  • A DUI conviction or guilty plea will likely prevent your ability to maintain security clearance status, which is mandatory for multiple military occupations.

Consulting an attorney before talking to civilian or military authorities can minimize potential penalties or keep you from facing more severe charges.

Possible defenses

Too many people believe a DUI charge is impossible to fight. However, several valid defenses are often used. These include:

  • The officer lacked probable cause to stop you
  • Improper training of arresting officer
  • Flawed breathalyzer or blood testing devices
  • Medications or health conditions that lead to false assumptions by law enforcement or invalid test results

Experienced civilian military law attorneys understand how both the civilian and military justice systems work. The bottom line is that service members face serious consequences for drug or alcohol-related charges. The best way to protect your career to have someone in your corner who can offer realistic options based on your circumstances.