Written by attorney James Nelson Dicks

American Servicemen and Military DUI

A conviction for DUI is a serious matter for a civilian. However, the implications can be far more severe for a member of the armed forces.

It is against the law for an adult to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration at or above .08% in the state of California. That number goes down to just .01% for drivers under the age of 21 under California’s zero tolerance law for underage drinkers. The San Diego area is home to a vast number of service men and women, many of which are below the age of 21.

For civilians, a first time DUI conviction typically involves up to six months in jail, up to $1000 in fines, driver’s license suspension, probation and a permanent criminal record. In the presence of “aggravating circumstances" the prosecution can elect to charge the offender with a felony. Aggravating circumstances include: having a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle, reckless driving, speeding, having a BAC at or above 0.15%, having a prior DUI conviction within the past 10 years, causing property damage, causing bodily injury, or causing death to another person.

In the presence of aggravating circumstances, the prosecutor will generally ask the judge for more penalties on behalf of the alleged drunk driver. These penalties may include jail time, higher fines, cleaning freeways, longer license suspension and more.

Getting a DUI in San Diego is already bad enough; however, if you get a DUI and you are a member of the U.S. Military, then you face far more severe penalties that can affect your military career. If you are ultimately convicted of a military DUI you could be facing the following: dishonorable discharge, pay deduction, rank reduction, monetary fines, imprisonment, and loss of security clearance.

A conviction for DUI can ruin all of your hard work and put an end to your service in the military. In fact, a dishonorable discharge is a highly likely probability, and one that you want to avoid at all costs. For many individuals, the military is either a gateway to a promising career, or a solid college education or both. Either way, if you were arrested for DUI, you can’t afford to take any more risks than you've already taken. Hiring a highly experienced attorney will be absolutely critical to protecting your legal rights and your distinguished reputation in the military.

There is no room for error if you are in the military and facing DUI charges. The sooner you get a criminal defense attorney involved, the greater your chances for obtaining a favorable outcome in you DUI case. It would be a shame to let your career and reputation to be damaged by a momentary lapse in judgment.

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