Driving under the influence of alcohol not only risks the life of the offender and everyone around him or her, but – especially for military personnel – it can also have far-reaching consequences on one’s career.
Drunk driving has serious implications both on and off military bases, and you should make sure that you fully understand the consequences that come along with deciding to drink and drive.
When you are in the military, defending a DUI means fighting a battle on three different fronts:
- With the Colorado DMV to keep your driver’s license,
- In criminal court against civil charges, and
- Against punitive actions under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that you will surely face in whichever branch you serve.
The Civil Consequences of DUI/DWAI Convictions
As it is in every other state, in Colorado, it is illegal to drive if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above a certain limit. If your BAC is .05 or more, you can be convicted of driving while impaired (DWAI). If your BAC is .08 and above, you may be found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI).
The penalties for a DUI conviction in Colorado is up to 12 months in a county jail, a fine of up to $1,500 and a suspension of your driver’s license for up to a year. A second or subsequent DUI conviction will result in even stiffer penalties.
Moreover, there will be attorney fees, court costs, probation fees and time taken off from work to go to court and fulfill obligations imposed on you by having a DUI. For a DWAI, the penalties are significantly less, but the fees associated are substantially similar.
The Military Consequences of a DUI/DWAI Conviction
For military personnel, a DUI or DWAI conviction in a civil case may have military consequences above and beyond the civil consequences. This does not violate your constitutional right against double jeopardy because the two are distinctly separate systems of justice.
The punitive actions imposed under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for a DUI or DWAI conviction (on or off base) can have profound consequences on your career in the military. These actions may include:
- Extra duty
- Reduction in rank, as well as any accompanying pay scale and wage reductions
- Confinement or diminished rations
- A Letter of Reprimand
- Non-Judicial Punishment/Article 15/Captain’s Mast
- Suspended deployment or PCS orders
- A court martial or a suspension board
For punitive actions imposed by the military, the burden of proof is a lot less stringent than for a civilian case, and any sufficient impairment is enough to evoke disciplinary actions for DUI. In fact, you may be subject to punitive action by the military long before being found guilty in your civil case.
For these reasons, if you are in any branch of the military and have been arrested for a DUI, hiring an experienced and qualified DUI attorney is the best course of action you can take on your own behalf to minimize the impact that your arrest can have on your career, your financial stability, and your freedom.
Contact An Experienced DUI Defense Attorney Today
If you are a member of the military stationed at Fort Carson or living in Colorado Springs and have been charged with DUI or DWAI, call the law office of Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. at (719) 577-9700 to discuss your rights. You can also contact us online for a free initial consultation.