Consequences of a DUI or DWI for Military Service Members

When a person is charged and convicted of a DUI, also commonly referred to as a DWI, the consequences of Federal DUI laws can be quite severe. From hefty fines to having to spend time in jail to the loss of driving privileges, one conviction can leave lasting detrimental affects. For military members, the DWI consequences are often even more severe. In fact, for these people, a simple DUI charge can mean the loss of a military career.

Anyone considering enlisting in the military who has a previous DUI conviction needs to understand that the criminal charge could possibly negatively affect their ability to enlist. Many times, those interested in enlisting with a prior criminal conviction will have to sign a waiver before the enlistment process can go forward.

For those who are already in the enlistment process and receive a DUI charge, their cases will need to be resolved before the process can continue. If time has to be served as part of the conviction consequences, this time has to be served before the person enlists in the military. Additionally, if the offender is on probation, the probation period has to be completed before enlisting. For an offender who has already served time and/or completed his or her time on probation, in addition, he or she must pay any court ordered fines before moving forward with enlistment.

It is important to note that each branch of the military has its specific rules and stipulations related to DUI convictions. For example, one branch may require an offender to wait a certain period of time after being convicted of a DUI before being able to apply for active duty enlistment.

DWI Consequences for Those in the Military

A person can be charged and convicted of a military DUI/DWI if he or she drives with a blood alcohol content level of .08 or greater. In addition, if a person drives while under the influence of drugs, whether illegal or legal, a DUI charge can be imposed. Upon being arrested for a DUI, those in the military will immediately lose their ability to drive on-base. In addition, they will likely receive a letter of reprimand.

Many times, one or more of following consequences apply for those in the military who receive a military DUI/DWI conviction:

  • Imprisonment
  • Loss of rank
  • Dishonorable discharge
  • Loss of pay
  • Hefty fines
  • Loss of security clearance

For those military members who don’t receive a discharge from the military as a result of a DUI conviction, such an offense can still end their careers. For example, many times, a member who has this type of offense on his or her conviction record will not be promoted, meaning he or she won’t make rank, which leads to the inability to remain on active duty.