For military service members, a DUI can be doubly serious. Not only is it a criminal offense that could be punished via a court martial, but it is also an employee discipline issue that could affect your career long term.
For an on-base DUI arrest, the military could charge you under Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Section 911: Art. 111. That could subject you to a court martial. This is a federal DUI, although it works similarly to a state DUI. Assuming you were arrested on a base in Tennessee, the blood alcohol concentration leading to DUI charges is still 0.08%.
You probably will not simultaneously be charged with DUI by a Tennessee prosecutor. Nevertheless, the state of Tennessee could suspend your driver’s license, order you to install an ignition interlock device and impose other non-criminal penalties in addition to any penalties under the UCMJ.
Penalties for on-base DUI
The penalty for DUI in the UCMJ is “as a court-martial may direct.” In practice, that means your commanding officer has significant discretion in how to proceed. He or she could levy an Article 15 non-judicial punishment, recommend a court martial and/or punish you administratively. These actions may include:
- Punitive actions, such as forfeiture or reduction of pay, reduction in grade, imprisonment and dismissal from the military, as well as “office hours” or “Captain’s mast” punishments.
- Administrative actions, ranging from a letter of reprimand and revocation of your pass privileges to corrective training, reduction in grade and a bar to reenlistment. You could also face mandatory substance abuse treatment.
Also, two serious alcohol-related misconduct incidents within a year could mean separation from the military.
Collateral consequences of a DUI conviction for military members
In addition to any official penalties, you could lose your security clearance for a DUI conviction. Whether or not you are demoted, a DUI conviction could keep you from being eligible for future promotions.
On top of that, you will probably begin receiving less favorable assignments because people without DUI convictions will be given the most favorable ones.
And, it’s possible you will be released before you earn your full retirement benefits.
Get an experienced DUI lawyer involved
There is a lot at stake for military members who are accused of operating any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.