Military DUI? Who Will Punish You?
If you get a military DUI you can be punished by three different (and overlapping) authorities. The first potential punishment comes from the civilian courts. It includes a loss of driving privileges, fines, incarceration and other possible penalties. Typically, these punishments occur after being stopped on suspicion of drunk driving while outside the military base. In addition, the military cannot administer action under the UCMJ for the same offense if you are being charged by civilian authorities. This applies regardless of the outcome of the civilian case. This blog has a section devoted to the various punishment and their consequences.
Punitive actions under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice are available to the military. This is true even if you are not being prosecuted by civilian authorities. This is typically the case if you were stopped for a DUI while on the installation. Two military sources of punishment may come in the form of PUNITIVE (UCMJ) and ADMINISTRATIVE penalties.
- Nonjudicial punishment – Commanding officers can levy NJP to their service members for minor disciplinary offenses under Article 15 of the UCMJ. Each of the services uses different names for NJP to include “Article 15” in the Army and Air Force, “Captain’s Mast” or “Mast” in the Navy and Coast Guard, and “Office Hours” in the Marine Corps. 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.
- Judicial punishment (court-martial) – If you are stopped on the installation, or the civilian authorities are not prosecuting you, you can still receive a court-martial for a DUI under Article 115 of the UCMJ. Article 115 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. In addition, punishments related to court-marital can include forfeiture of pay, reduction in grade, confinement and dismissal from the military.
There is another layer of potential punishment which can be levied by your commanding officer. These may 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. Do this 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. They deny you the opportunity to reenlist after your current service is complete. This procedure is used for those whose immediate separation is not warranted. It applies to those to whom reenlistment is not in the best interest of the military.
As you can see, a military DUI is a big deal with career-threatening consequences. A night of bad judgment can carry a heavy price. In addition, t is important that you contact an attorney who has experience with the court and prosecutors in the civilian court. Further, hire an attorney who has the credentials to help you in all aspects of the military DUI case. We are here 24/7 at (937) 776-2671.