While no one sets out to get a DUI, tens of thousands of people each and every year find themselves with court dates to explain what exactly happened that night on the road. If you are a member of the military, it can be even more difficult to beat the rap on a DUI. Here are a few things you will need to know to get through your military DUI allegation in one piece.
Finding a lawyer who understands the differences between the way a civilian court tries a DUI and the way a military court tries a DUI is absolutely vital. Everything from the way a DUI is judged to the way it is tried is different in military court. It is important that you understand the rules and the differences ahead of time so that you can quiz your lawyer about the differences in style. Here are just a few of the main differences:
Most military courts will use their state’s blood alcohol level guidelines to judge if you were, in fact, drunk at the time you were pulled over, or at the time of your accident, but they don’t have to. A military court has the legal right to simply “guess’ that you were impaired by alcohol even if your blood alcohol level wasn’t over that magical, illegal line. It is frustrating, but that’s the way the system works so you need to understand this going in.
While a DUI charge can take months to move through the antiquated civilian court system, it can seemingly fly through the military court system at an incredible rate. That is why it is so vitally important that you find a lawyer as soon as your DUI happens. Don’t wait a week or even a day, start trying to find one the next morning.
A military DUI can essentially put the breaks on an otherwise promising career. Depending on the branch of the military you are in and the response from your commanding officer, you may end up being completely cleared of all charges, and still face severe penalties that could include being frozen at your current rank for the rest of your career. There have been recorded cases of a DUI being tried in civilian court and such penalties being levied by a soldier’s commanding officer. These penalties may sound outrageous and absurdly unfair but they are a fact of life if you get arrested for DUI while a member of the military.
Finally, the sentencing aspect of a military DUI court case is also completely different than that of a civilian court. For most crimes, a military court has no limit on the sentencing they can hand out if you are convicted. This is an important aspect that everyone who goes before a military court needs to keep in mind.
As you can see, having a lawyer who understands the difference between civilian courts and military courts is extremely important to the success of your case.