No matter your reason, it’s always extremely serious to be charged for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. Civilians who are charged with DUI often face jail time, the suspension of their driver’s license, and a steep fine among others. When he or she is arrested they will be read the charges, have the opportunity to defend themselves or enter a plea bargain, before being found either guilty or not guilty. When found guilty they will be sentenced by the court. But is this different for military members on an installation?
When a military member on a military installation is charged with a DUI, the process is often more complicated. He or she may end up facing civilian penalties as well as those under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
DUI Off Base
Military members who are arrested for DUI by a civilian police officer while off base will probably be prosecuted by the state. In the state of Colorado, an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08 will result in criminal charges and an administrative penalty license suspension of a minimum of nine months. When charged with a DUI, you have the right to an attorney, as would a civilian.
It’s important to understand that even if a civilian court acquits you of these DUI charges, the military may still choose to pursue a punishment against you either before or after the civilian case has concluded and may involve a court martial.
Military members who have been arrested for a DUI while on base, will likely face penalties under the UCMJ, even if they face civilian penalties for the DUI.
Under the UCMJ, an accused party may be subject to both adverse administrative actions and a court-martial. It is generally up to your commanding officer’s discretion.
What Are the Consequences?
While civilians are protected from double jeopardy under the constitution, such protection is inapplicable in this situation since the civil and military justice systems are considered to be completely separate.
Whether the alleged DUI occurred on- or off-base, the military can take a variety of punitive actions on you, such as:
- Extra military duty
- Lower rank, pay scale, and wage
- Letter of Reprimand
- Diminished rations/confinement
- PCS orders
- Suspended deployment
- Non-Judicial Punishment
- A suspension board or a court martial
Lower Burden of Proof for Punitive Action
Unlike a civilian case, the burden of proof in the case of a military punitive action is significantly lower and the military can take punitive action against you even prior to the civil court finding you guilty for DUI.
The Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC Helps Military Members in Colorado Who Have Been Charged with a Crime
The U.S. Government has an interest in obtaining a conviction as soon as possible, as it does not wish to gain negative publicity about one of its service members. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced military attorney as soon as possible.
If you are a military service member (active or reserve) and have been charged with a crime under the UCMJ, the Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC can help. We proudly serve our military members, who sacrifice so much for our country. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!