Helping Members of the U.S. Armed Forces Fight Back Drunk Driving Charges
A DUI conviction can generate endless headaches for anyone, as it could potentially lead to a loss of driving privileges and even a criminal record. However, for members of the U.S. Military, a DUI conviction can truly threaten the continuity of their career. The attorneys at The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, explain how military DUIs work in Virginia, the possible penalties, and the ways an attorney can help you if you are facing charges. Don’t let a DUI ruin your military career – call The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, at 703-688-9236.
What Happens if You Get a DUI Off Base in Virginia?
If you are in the military and are charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be facing the same civil and criminal consequences as a civilian. In Virginia, a DUI is usually considered a misdemeanor, which may result in temporary license suspension and loss of driving privileges, fines, mandatory community service, and, in some cases, jail time. If you injure or kill someone while intoxicated, the DUI offense may be charged as a felony and result in harsher penalties, including higher fines and prison time.
However, as a member of the military, you may still face additional consequences, as the standard of double jeopardy (being tried twice for the same offense) does not apply to the military because the civilian and military justice systems are considered to be separate. Depending on the severity of your DUI, you may face military penalties and have your case end up in court-martial. If that doesn’t happen, you may still be dealing with the consequences of losing your driving privileges, such as being unable to complete the duties of your position if they require you to operate vehicles or do any sort of transportation.
What Happens if You Get a DUI Driving a Military Vehicle on Base?
While ingesting excessive amounts of alcohol is frowned upon in the civilian world, ingesting any alcohol while on duty in a military base can have serious consequences. If you are arrested for a DUI while on base, you could be facing penalties as prescribed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), even if you have already been charged as a civilian.
In practical terms, that means you may end up dealing with adverse administrative actions or a court-martial, depending on what your commanding officer decides to do. The adverse administrative consequences you may be subject to include receiving a GOMOR (General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand), undergoing corrective training, being referred to an alcohol and substance abuse program or having your pass privileges revoked.
In addition, you may also need to appear for an Article 15 hearing or court-martial. Your on-post driving privileges and security clearance status may be removed, and you could be demoted or suffer a reduction in pay. Depending on the severity of the offense, you could be disqualified from future promotions and barred from reenlistment. If you commit a second DUI offense within less than a year, you could be subject to separation proceedings that often result in a less-than-honorable discharge or even a dishonorable discharge.
How Can You Defend Yourself Against DUI Charges?
If you are a member of the military facing DUI charges for an incident on base or even off base, getting the right legal representation is crucial. Even if you are provided with uniformed counsel, it is impossible to know whether you will get an experienced attorney or someone who has only been practicing for a couple of years. In addition, it is not uncommon for a court-martial to have lower evidentiary standards than a civilian court, which means they can obtain a conviction for a military member well before they are convicted for a DUI in a civilian court.
A skilled DUI defense attorney can devise a variety of effective defense strategies to help de-escalate your charges or get them to be dropped altogether. For example, your attorney can question the accuracy of the breathalyzer results or the manner in which the blood test was conducted, claiming that it may have yielded inaccurate results or that the defendant’s BAC was within the legal limits at the time of the arrest, but may have risen above the legal limit as time went by and more alcohol was processed by their body, causing a difference in readings due to the delay in testing their blood alcohol content. Each case is unique, but by acting quickly and getting the right legal help, you will have better chances of avoiding the maximum consequences for your DUI case.
Can a Military DUI Case Be Dismissed?
Much like a civilian case, a military DUI case could likely be dismissed if your defense attorney is able to convince the court that some or all the evidence against you should be deemed inadmissible, for example. If your DUI was a result of an illegal search and seizure, any evidence obtained during the search may be considered inadmissible in court because it violates your constitutional rights. In addition, your attorney could also argue that someone else was driving the vehicle or that you were forced to drive while intoxicated because someone else pressured you or even threatened you.
The attorneys at The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, can investigate your case and come up with an effective defense strategy to help you avoid civil and military consequences for a DUI. Contact our office in Fairfax, VA at 703-688-9236 to learn more.