Joining the Military with a DUI on your Record

Having a DUI or DWI on your Record Does Not Disqualify you from Joining the Military – Learn How to Prepare for Active Duty after a DUI

No matter which branch of the service a person plans to enter, he or she must be of good moral character and legal standing. During the background investigation, everything from credit history to reference checks are completed. This is to ensure that only honest and upright individuals join the military and also to limit the chance of possible discipline and security issues with certain personnel.

Generally speaking, if the crime is not severe, there is a higher chance that security clearance can be obtained; conversely, if a crime is severe, it is less likely a clearance will be given. Felonies make it much more difficult to get a waiver, while it is very possible with misdemeanors.

For those thinking about enlistment after a DUI, there a few things to know first.

Each case is dealt with individually. A DUI has military consequences, but it is still entirely plausible for someone with one to get a waiver to join the military. There is no set in stone answer, as each case is taken into account independently of others. Will you need a conditional license? It’s vital to note that one can enlist with a DUI. It is not an automatic disqualification. Before gaining permission to join the military, there are a few steps that must be taken.

1. Contact the recruiter. Discuss how to best go about handling a past DUI when trying to join the military. Everything told to a recruiter, with the exception of child abuse, suicidal thoughts, and other very serious things, is confidential.

2. Disclose everything about the DUI. The security officers want to know the whole truth surrounding any criminal conviction or activity. By law, you must unveil any incidents with law authorities to the officers completing your security clearance investigation. Honesty and full disclosure is the best policy here, and one of the consequences of a DUI for service members, or those trying to enlist. Covering up the information will only have a negative impact, as the officers will undoubtedly be able to retrieve such records.

3. Show changes and steps taken to improve. The military values those who make good decisions and live sincere lives. While a DUI may show error in judgment, steps taken to reform one’s self afterwards indicate a desire to be a good and productive member of society. Proof of completion of a rehab program, reference letters from parole officers or employers, and community service are all things that prove somebody has accepted responsibility for their actions, has recovered, and has made significant efforts to live a more morally sound life. One lapse in judgment at the age of 19 does not mean that same person can’t be cleared to join the military at 23, especially if there has been no criminal behavior in between.

4. A waiver is needed. After disclosing the DUI, a waiver is needed from a high ranking officer. The officer usually takes into account a person’s honesty about the incident, how they took positive action to make changes, and how they appeared during the investigation. A lot of times this is a judgment call on the part of the officer. However, there are things that can enhance the chances of a waiver approval, such as those listed above.

If the judge ordered a prison sentence or probation period for a DUI conviction, it is probably best to wait until those are completed to enlist in the armed forces. While there is a possibility to get a waiver, most people have a better chance after the sentence is completed. Talk to other people who have successful joined the military after getting a DUI. Speaking with someone who has gone through the process first hand can be a big help.