CAN YOU JOIN THE MILITARY WITH A DUI? WHAT IF YOU GET A DUI WHILE SERVING?
By Olivia Rigby
Alcohol is one of the most universal drinks there is. Every country has its own “specialty” drink, and for many people, drinking signifies a time for enjoyment and unwinding. Even though driving while drunk is extremely dangerous, many people still do it – and many people get caught doing it. So what about getting caught up with a DUI in military service? For those with a DUI, military service eligibility can be negatively impacted. So what are the consequences of a DUI? What does a DUI on your record affect? Many might also be wondering, “Can I join the military with a DUI?” Well, the answer isn’t a solid “yes” or “no.” Keep reading to learn more about what a DUI does to someone’s military service eligibility.
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Got a DUI? Military Service Impacts for Driving DrunkSo, can you join the military with a DUI? How does the military find out about DUI? With a preexisting DUI, military enlistment is not impossible, but it’s also not easy. When a person tries to enlist in the military, the military will run a background check; fingerprints are also taken and run through an FBI database. Fingerprints are also taken when someone faces a DUI charge, so the military will learn about a DUI through their background check. Some branches of the military will still allow you to join with a DUI, though. Below is a breakdown of each branch and what their policies are on a DUI while enlisting.
Joining the Army with a DUIWith the Army being one of the more lenient branches of the military, you can join with a DUI on your record. However, a waiver is required. The waiver is more likely to be approved if there’s only one DUI offense and no other convictions related to a DUI. Military enlistment, however, is not likely if you have more than one DUI on your record. The Army might also ask you to have an interview with the recruiter to judge your character and determine if you’re fit for military service.
Joining the Navy with a DUIThe Navy also requires a waiver for a DUI, and if you have more than one DUI on your record, you are absolutely not eligible to join the Navy. Additionally, for the Navy, you have to wait for a year after your DUI offense before you can even obtain a waiver, and all terms of your sentence (community service, alcohol abuse classes, etc.) have to be completed before you can request a waiver.
Joining the Air Force or Space Force with a DUIJoining the Air Force or Space Force with a DUI is basically a no. The Air Force strongly considers a DUI as a red flag for manning all types of transportation, from driving to flying. Driving under the influence puts everyone at risk; if you can’t be trusted behind the wheel of a car, can you be trusted behind the wheel of an aircraft? However, there is still some hope for those wanting to join the Air Force or Space Force. Waivers can sometimes be granted, but you have to wait five years after the initial conviction to be considered for a waiver. Additionally, if you’re allowed a waiver, that waiver must pass through many hands along the chain of command. For these reasons, it’s basically impossible to join the Air Force or Space Force with a DUI.
Joining the Marine Corps with a DUIThe Marines pride themselves in choosing recruits with high moral standards and qualifications. With that being said, they only choose a small number of recruits every year, but you can still apply for a waiver as long as you’ve not been under any sort of judicial restraint within the past year. Because of the Marines’ enlistment rates and selectivity, it’s highly improbable that someone with a DUI will be accepted into the Marines.
Joining the Coast Guard with a DUIThe Coast Guard is actually extremely hard to get into with a DUI. Military enlistment with the Coast Guard is incredibly strict and competitive. Recruiters conduct thorough background checks, and applicants with DUIs must remain sober for at least five years before they can apply for a waiver. Overall, if you’re looking to join the military with a DUI, you may be able to join some branches, like the Army of Navy, relatively easily. However, if your heart was set on a branch like the Air Force or the Coast Guard, you’re gonna be out of luck.
What Happens If You Get a DUI In the Military?If you’re wondering what happens to those who get a DUI in the military, the answer is not good. Military DUIs are a lot more severe while in service compared to civilian DUIs. Cases involving DUIs can go to military court; the military considers any amount of alcohol that impairs driving to be a DUI. It doesn’t matter how much alcohol was consumed if someone’s ability to operate a vehicle is less than optimal. The consequences of this can range from dishonorable discharge to pay reductions and fines to demotions and even imprisonment because of a military DUI. On any military base, alcohol is limited, so the chances of getting drunk to the point of a DUI are low, but be careful not to drink and drive when you leave the base and return. Driving under the influence is not funny or cool. Thousands of lives have been lost due to drunk driving. Even if someone doesn’t die from drunk driving, lives can still be ruined and permanently negatively impacted. Not above the impact on those you could hurt, this act could also ruin your own life if convicted of a DUI. Military enlistment and service are even more seriously negatively impacted by a DUI. Thankfully, for those looking to enlist, some branches of the military will still consider you for enlistment. But for those already serving in the military, the consequences will be severe. For all the alcohol enjoyers out there who are interested in the military or currently serving, be mindful of your alcohol consumption.
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