DUI on Military Base
What to do when you are arrested for a DUI on a military base:
This will depend on one question, are you in the military or not? I will address the people not in the military first and then military members second. Since there is a large population of San Diego that are military members and they have visitors on the base this will be important information for many.
Civilian arrested for DUI on military base
The good news if you’re a civilian facing a military DUI is they are generally much cheaper than a civilian DUI! If you are a civilian arrested for a DUI on a military base, you still need to worry about the same things someone arrested off a military base would be concerned with. License suspension, fines, classes and probation. The federal court system can contact the California DMV and let them know you were arrested on Federal land. This typically does not happen frequently however it is something to be aware of. Obviously, the DMV would then require the license suspension, the classes and all the fees that go along with that process.
The other aspect of a DUI on a military base is you can potentially lose driving privileges on base and be banned from coming onto the base. Quite often, and even more so recently, the JAG attorneys are asking for the person arrested for a DUI to not come onto the base as part of a negotiated deal. This can be problematic if you are a civilian that works on the base. Many civilians work in the various stores and restaurants on military posts and need to drive to and from work. If your driving privileges are suspended on base, this can make getting to work very difficult because there is no public transportation on military bases. Obviously, if you are banned from base, you can’t be on the base regardless.
The good news is a skilled DUI lawyer can really do great work on Military DUIs. Typically, the prosecution has no clue how California law works as it relates to a DUI. They are military lawyers who don’t necessarily need to pass the California bar. They can pass the bar in any state and be admitted to practice in Federal Court. We can use this to your advantage!
Military member arrested for a DUI on base
There are two charges you need to be concerned about, the Article 92 and the DUI. Most commands these days have standing orders not to drink and drive. That’s where the Article 92 comes in, failure to obey an order. Then you also have to worry about the DUI charge.
Typically, the military tries to resolve these very quickly with Non-judicial punishment (NJP). You should be very careful of requesting NJP for your DUI charges because they typically rely completely on the police report and the blood alcohol level. It will count as an alcohol related incident (ARI) in your personnel file and can prevent you from making rank in a timely fashion. This is how they are downsizing the military. If they don’t kick you out immediately, they will bust you down in rank, put you on restriction for 30 days and dock you half month’s pay for 2 months.
One of the things they don’t tell you is you have the right to a lawyer, not only a JAG lawyer but a civilian lawyer as well. The JAG lawyer is free, the civilian lawyer is not, but 2 lawyers for the price of 1? Not a bad deal! I have had great success at administrative separation hearings, court martial and NJP hearings. When you can have an attorney and/or an expert explain to your command why the blood alcohol readings aren’t what they say they are, the military tends to listen.
Don’t risk your career on an NJP, hire an attorney and fight for your rights! As a U.S. Army veteran I am always happy and proud to help out fellow service members.