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Military DUI: FAQ’s For Active Duty Soldiers Who Face A DUI Charge

Dayton DUI Attorney Charles Rowland > DUI Law  > Military DUI: FAQ’s For Active Duty Soldiers Who Face A DUI Charge

Military DUI: FAQ’s For Active Duty Soldiers Who Face A DUI Charge

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If you are an active duty soldier and receive a military DUI (drunk driving) charge, you may face civilian DUI penalties or military DUI punishment.  This article will describe what military penalties are available and under what circumstances they are invoked. 

Who Will Prosecute My Military DUI?

The overwhelming number of DUI cases will be prosecuted in the civilian courts and the military authorities will not seek jurisdiction. Punishment under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (court martial/Article 15s) is not available to the military if the civilian authorities are prosecuting your DUI case.  This is true even if your DUI case gets dismissed or reduced.  If you are facing a DUI charge and the civilian court takes your case you could theoretically face charges for crimes that the civilian authorities choose not to prosecute, but this almost never happens.

As with other aspects of a DUI case, make sure you hire an attorney who has some experience and can guide you through the civilian process.  It may become necessary for your  DUI attorney to handle your case in such a manner so as to assure civilian prosecution.  Other times it may be advantageous to have the military take jurisdiction.  Either way, you need an attorney with enough foresight to see the issues and enough gravitas to work with the proper authorities to seek relief.  At DaytonDUI, we have a former J.A.G. on staff and have represented soldiers and civilian employees since 1995.  We are located adjacent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio.  Charles M. Rowland II has testified as an expert witness in evidential breath testing for the United States in DUI court martial proceedings and has served as a city prosecutor responsible for handling DUI prosecutions.  He regularly appears in the United States District Court (DUIs on federal property) and in all Ohio civilian court jurisdictions on behalf of the accused soldier.  He is uniquely positioned to help.

Where Should I Go For Help?

If you have been charged with a DUI, your first stop should be your military area defense counsel (ADC).  The ADC will provide you confidential advice and can work with your civilian DUI defense attorney.  They usually have a good sense as to how the local court handles OVI matters and can help you from the military standpoint as well.  You should talk with ADC even if you have a civilian attorney as they can prepare you for any administrative action that the military imposes in drunk driving cases.  If the military takes jurisdiction of your DUI case and proceeds under Article 15, you are entitled to free representation via the Area Defense Counsel.  If you choose, you can have a civilian attorney represent you, but this will be at your own expense.  The ADC cannot represent you in civilian court. A great web resource is Military One Stop [Here], which provides information on military DUI and provided valuable information for this military DUI article.

To hire civilian counsel, contact Charles M. Rowland and read, “How to Hire A DUI Attorney.”

What Military DUI Punishments Are Available?

There are two forms of punishments that you may face if the military takes jurisdiction of your case.  The first group are UCMJ proceedings and include Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP) and Judicial Punishment (Court Martials).  The second group of punishments are Administrative Actions.

Commanders can levy NJP to soldiers under Article 15 of the UCMJ (Note: The Air Force and Army call these actions “Article 15s,” whereas the Navy and Coast Guard call the action a “Captain’s Mast” or “Mast” and the Marine Corps calls the action “Office Hours.”)  Under NJP, commanders can make an inquiry into the facts surrounding the offenses allegedly committed, afford the accused a hearing, and either dismiss the charges, impose punishment under the provisions of Article 15, or refer the case to a court-martial. Under NJP, commanding officers can punish you through a variety of mechanisms, usually dependent on the nature of the offense. These can include an official reprimand, extra duty, restriction to limits, forfeiture of pay, and reduction of grade. Id.  If you are stopped on the installation, or the civilian authorities are not prosecuting you, you can still receive a court-martial for a military DUI under Article 111 of the UCMJ. Article 111 specifically states that any person who operates or physically controls any vehicle, aircraft, or vessel in a reckless or wanton manner or while impaired shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. Punishments related to court-marital can include forfeiture of pay, reduction in grade, confinement, and dismissal from the military.

What Administrative Actions Are Available?

So your DUI (drunk driving) case has been prosecuted in the civilian courts.  Can the military still take action against you?  Unfortunately, they can.  These actions can include:

  • Letter of Reprimand. A letter of reprimand is a formal document from your superior (usually a general officer) that details your wrongful actions and the punishment that can be expected. Although letters of reprimand are less severe than a court-martial, they can be career-ending as the letter remains in your record and can have adverse effects on your ability to receive a promotion.
  • Revocation of pass privileges. Your commander can revoke your ability to go on leave. If you are being charged by civilian authorities, this usually lasts until the civilian court proceedings are complete. If you are facing military punitive actions, this denial of leave typically lasts until your UCMJ punishments are served and complete.
  • Mandatory referral to a substance abuse treatment program. Your commander can mandate that you enroll in and complete a substance abuse treatment program through your branch of Service’s respective program.
  • Corrective training. Your commander may require corrective training if he/she believes you would benefit from additional instruction or practice in a particular area. This training is designed to correct deficiencies and eliminate the need for formal disciplinary measures in the future.
  • Administrative reduction in grade. Depending on your situation and your rank, your commander can reduce your grade. The rank of the commander who may approve an administrative reduction in grade depends on your rank.
  • Bar to reenlistment. A bar to reenlistment is a procedure that commanders may use to deny you the opportunity to reenlist after your current service is complete. This procedure is used for those whose immediate separation is not warranted, but whose reenlistment is not in the best interest of the military.

To learn more about you military DUI case, contact Charles M. Rowland for a free consultation.  DUI Attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in the Miami Valley and throughout Ohio.  He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself Dayton’s choice for drunk driving defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at (937) 318-1384 or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). If you need assistance after hours, call the 24/7 DUI Hotline at (937) 776-2671.


Charles Rowland


Charles M. Rowland II has been representing the accused drunk driver for over 20 years. Contact him at (937) 318-1384 if you find yourself facing a DUI (now called OVI) charge.

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