DUI is a major ongoing concern with law enforcement and officials across the country, so it is no surprise that military bases worldwide are also concerned about it. Whether it is personnel stationed on the base, contractors or military family members, the issue of drunk driving or driving under the influence is a recurring issue. Some areas of military law are different from civilian law, but DUI charges are not one of them. In fact, the only meaningful difference is that some bases have a stricter zero-tolerance policy.
What it can mean for military personnel
A DUI charge is a big deal in any context but an even bigger problem for active-duty servicemembers on (or off) the base. Depending upon the circumstances, the penalties could include the following:
- Military court-martial and/or discharge
- Disciplinary proceedings that impact service records, tenure, clearance, and pensions
- Any applicable charges in civil courts
- Loss of license or driving privileges
Some commanders wait for the civil court’s ruling before holding a disciplinary hearing. Accepting severe charges rather than fighting them could mean the military court will also impose more severe penalties.
What it means for civilians
Civilians suspected of DUI on any military base fall under federal jurisdiction and is a federal offense under the Code of Federal Regulation, which means that the local Superior Courts do not handle cases. While civilians enjoy the same legal rights and protections as they would off the base, military police also have the same authority as civilian law enforcement to pull drivers over when probable cause arises. They also will administer roadside sobriety tests and arrest drivers suspected of driving under the influence. The penalties will include fines, loss of license, jail time, community service, and probation.
While the case does not go through the local court, the incident will likely get reported to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which means revocation of a driver’s license. Once the DMV is notified, the driver has ten days to request an administrative hearing to keep their driving privileges. Those who do not request the hearing automatically lose their license.
Military law attorneys are often the best option
If you are facing DUI charges while on base, working with a military law attorney who understands this specialized area of law is in your best interests. Their experience and knowledge help give their client a stronger defense when so much is riding on the case.