What Happens If a Soldier Is Arrested for DUI?

A driving-under-the-influence (DUI) charge can have serious consequences, more so for active duty soldiers. A soldier arrested and charged for drunk driving can face both civilian penalties in accordance with state laws and military punishment.

If a civilian police officer arrests you or your loved one, paying bail on your own or with the help of a bail bond agent can secure the soldier’s release and allow them to prepare a strong defense for the upcoming trial.  Read on to learn more about what happens when a soldier is arrested for drunk driving.

On-Base DUI Arrest

If a military police arrests you on-base, a court martial will likely prosecute your case based on the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Section 911: Art. 111.

According to UCMJ Section 911: Art. 111, the applicable blood alcohol content limit when an officer is operating a vehicle, aircraft, or other such vessel is lower than the blood alcohol content limit under state law, applicable to civilian offenders.

Generally, the blood alcohol content limit for civilians is 0.08 percent. In the army, a military police could arrest you for DUI if your blood alcohol content is lower than the 0.08 percent threshold.

If your case is prosecuted under UCMJ proceedings, the punishment may be judicial or nonjudicial. You may face administrative penalties as well.

Judicial Punishment

Depending on the seriousness of your case, for example, whether you injured or killed someone while driving intoxicated, you may face one or more judicial penalties.

Judicial punishment may include dishonorable discharge, reduction and forfeiture of pay, imprisonment, loss of pension and security clearance, and monetary fines.

Nonjudicial Punishment 

Also known as Article 15 (UCMJ) punishments, nonjudicial penalties are essentially issued at the discretion of the commander. After listening to your case, the commander may dismiss the charges, punish you, or forward the case to a court-martial.

Nonjudicial punishments may include a reprimand, forfeiture of pay, reduction of grade, extra duty, and restriction from certain limits among others.

Administrative Penalties

The commander can levy administrative penalties whether a military or civilian court prosecutes your case.

Common administrative penalties include an official letter of reprimand (which could remain in your file), denial of leave, enrolment in a substance abuse treatment program, and reduction in rank. You may also be barred from reenlisting in the service.

Off-Base DUI Arrest

If a civilian law enforcement officer arrests and charges you for DUI while you are away from the military base, a civilian court will prosecute your case based on the applicable DUI state laws. If convicted, you could face several criminal penalties, depending on the seriousness of your offense.

Possible penalties may include jail time, a suspended sentence, suspension or revocation of driver’s license, vehicle impoundment, and mandatory rehabilitation among others.


If a police officer charges you with an offense, you can access free legal advice and representation in a court martial by an area-defense counsel. You may opt to have a civilian attorney, but you would have to pay for the related expenses out of your pocket.

If you have civilian DUI citation, you can postpone your court appearance if a military assignment cannot allow you to attend court dates. However, you cannot postpone court appearances indefinitely – it is in your best interest to show up in court.

A criminal conviction can have life-changing implications for your military career. If a civilian court will prosecute your case, be sure to speak to a skilled attorney who can help you build a strong defense to avert a conviction. Getting out of jail as soon as you are charged can give you time to prepare for the trial.

If you or your loved are looking for bail bonds in San Antonio, TX, and surrounding areas, AA Best Bail Bonds can help secure your release from jail. Get in touch with us today to make your emergency bail bond arrangements.

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