Legal Implications of Getting a DUI On or Off an Installation


A hand reaching for car keys lying on the ground next to a beer bottle and a car tire.

If you are charged with driving under the influence on or off your local military installation, you may face numerous judicial and nonjudicial punishments. If you are charged with a DUI off the installation, you may be subject to criminal and administrative punishments from the state. If on the installation, you will face punitive actions under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

Possible civilian punishments

While civilian punishments vary from state to state and are typically harsher for repeat offenders, they may include any of the following:

  • Criminal law penalties — If you are arrested for a DUI or DWI, you may be subject to jail time, fines and community service.
  • Suspension or revocation of your license — If your blood alcohol content is above the state limit for intoxication or you refuse to submit to testing, you may have your driver's license suspended or revoked for a period of time. Additionally, your installation commander may suspend or revoke your on-installation driving privileges.
  • Mandatory alcohol education and assessment and treatment You may be required to attend a DUI prevention program and submit to an assessment of potential alcohol dependency problems.
  • Vehicle confiscation — The state may be able to seize your vehicle, either permanently or for a set time period.
  • Ignition interlock — You can be required to install a vehicle ignition interlock breath-testing device that measures your blood alcohol content and will not let your start your vehicle if more than a minimal amount of alcohol is detected.

Punishments under the Uniform Code of Military Justice

Punitive actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice are possible if civilian authorities do not prosecute you. Although you cannot be charged for the same incident on and off the installation, you can still be punished under the code for misconduct and other lesser offenses as a result of the off-installation DUI. Military punitive actions may include:

  • Judicial punishment (court-martial) — If you are stopped on the installation, or the civilian authorities are not prosecuting you, you can receive a court-martial under Article 111 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Punishments can include loss of pay, reduction in grade, confinement and dismissal from the military.
  • Nonjudicial punishment — Commanding officers can levy nonjudicial punishment for minor disciplinary offenses under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under nonjudicial punishment, commanding officers can punish you through an official reprimand, extra duty, restriction to limits, forfeiture of pay and reduction of grade.

Regardless of whether you are being charged by civilian authorities or receiving Uniform Code of Military Justice action, your commanding officer can take administrative actions against you including any of the following:

  • Letter of reprimand — A letter of reprimand is a formal document that details your wrongful actions and the punishment that can be expected. Although less severe than a court-martial, it can be career-ending, as the letter remains in your record.
  • Revocation of pass privileges — Your commander can revoke your ability to go on leave.
  • Mandatory referral to a substance abuse treatment program — Your commander can mandate that you enroll in and complete a substance abuse treatment program.
  • Corrective training — Your commander may require corrective training if he or she believes you would benefit from additional instruction.
  • Administrative reduction in grade Depending on your situation and your rank, your commander can reduce your grade.
  • Bar to re-enlistment A bar to re-enlistment is a procedure that commanders may use to deny you the opportunity to re-enlist after your current service is complete.

Additional assistance

If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI, you should consult your military area defense counsel for advice. The area defense counsel can provide you confidential advice while allowing you the right to hire a civilian defense attorney.


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