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Does the military punish DUI differently than civil authorities?

Although Article 111 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits driving under the influence, the military’s intoxication standard may differ from a civilian DUI. 

As a preliminary matter, it is important to understand when civil or military law might apply. A service member who is arrested off base for driving under the influence will generally not face a military court martial. Instead, he or she will have to face the application of state law. However, a military DUI is technically not the same crime as a civilian DUI, so the double jeopardy rule does not apply. 

Indeed, a civilian DUI may still result in some military consequences, such as punitive actions under Article 15 or administrative penalties imposed by one’s commanding officer. Those consequences may include corrective training, substance abuse treatment, pay reductions, or other measures. 

According to a recent article, the navy has begun viewing DUI incidents as a misconduct issue. In fact, the article claims that misconduct might even end a service member’s career. In 2009, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy began monitoring conduct issues, including drunk driving. The MCPON also instituted a year-round training to remind service members of their conduct obligations. The scrutiny has paid off, with a decline in misconduct incidents by as much as 30 percent according to the Navy's records.

As this article suggests, even civilian DUI’s might garner unwanted attention from one's commanding officer or other military authorities. Consequently, it is important to consult with a military attorney if you have been charged with either a civil or military DUI offense. An attorney can explain your options and help you strategize how to best protect your career. 

Source: Navy Times, “Chief's mess cleans up: 7 ways the goat locker is better,” Mark D. Faram, Feb. 15, 2016

Related Post: Charged with DUI Off Base,” Feb. 1, 2016, Law Offices of David P. Sheldon

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