What Happens in a Military DUI Case?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on November 12, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A military DUI can cause a uniformed service member's personal and professional worlds to collide and spark an array of negative consequences.

Here's a breakdown of the two types of military DUI cases along with a run-down of their potential outcomes:

If You Are Arrested for a DUI by Civilian Police

If the state or other civilian authorities charge you with a DUI off a military installation, you will not face a military court martial for the same crime. State law governs the DUI case process.

Nevertheless, your commanding officer may subject you to administrative actions, such as mandatory substance abuse treatment, revocation of pass privileges, or corrective training. The military may also charge you with other crimes related to the incident (e.g. disorderly conduct).

The type and scope of penalties for a civilian DUI conviction are established by state law.

If You Are Arrested for a DUI on Base

Service members arrested on a military installation should expect to be charged by the military under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Section 911: Art. 111.

Under Article 111's "intoxication" standard, the military court may adhere to state standards but also has discretion to convict a service member with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) lower than the state's legal limit.

Though the service member will not face civilian criminal charges for the DUI, the state may still impose non-criminal penalties related to driving privileges.

Commanding officers enjoy virtually unfettered sentencing discretion. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a military DUI conviction could lead to the following -- court martial and non-judicial -- punitive actions:

  • Dishonorable discharge;
  • Forfeiture of pay;
  • Required reimbursement to the government for any GI Bill monies;
  • Loss of pension;
  • Rank reduction including a resultant pay deduction;
  • Loss of security clearances;
  • Monetary fines;
  • Imprisonment; and
  • Non-judicial punishments listed in Article 15 of the UCMJ.

Service members may also face the following administrative actions:

  • A letter of reprimand;
  • Revocation of pass privileges;
  • Mandatory treatment for substance abuse;
  • Corrective training;
  • Reduction in grade; and
  • A bar to reenlistment.

For extra guidance on military DUIs, you may want to consult an experienced military lawyer.

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