How a DUI Can Affect Your Military Career

A DUI conviction can have an impact on a civilian’s life in Florida for decades. Not only must the driver pay fines, suffer a license suspension, attend DUI school, and face possible jail, but they must also live with a permanent public record of conviction.  


That means prospective employers, landlords, loan officers, social groups, and family members can judge the driver based on their worst day. 



How Does the Military View DUI Convictions? 


During periods of active hostilities involving U.S. armed forces, the branches of the armed services needed growing numbers of capable young people to meet the challenges abroad. However, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, the government instituted a program of Reduction in Force (RIF) because the need to maintain a larger fighting force was diminished.  


Budget cuts and shifting priorities meant that the armed services needed fewer soldiers, sailors, air force personnel, and marines. Fewer openings meant that the military could be more selective about who it accepts.  


Can a DUI Conviction Keep You Out of the Military? 


Generally, the United States armed forces try to avoid accepting applicants with addiction or substance dependence issues. Though such a problem is no longer necessarily viewed as evidence of bad conduct, the realization that substance use disorder is an illness that can persist despite the best efforts of the person suffering from it presents a potential for difficulties the military wants to prevent. 


DUI is not synonymous with substance abuse, but a DUI conviction is evidence of poor judgment at a minimum and potential substance dependency in the most serious cases. Beyond the health issues, the military still views DUI as indicative of poor character in the same way the offense carries such a social stigma in civilian life. 


Some of the other reasons military officials consider a history of one or more DUI convictions to be such negative components of a potential enlistee’s application include the following: 


  • A suspended or revoked driver’s license prevents the person from being as versatile as might be needed. A record of driving offenses, including DUI, suggests that the person is not a safe driver, potentially presenting a danger to fellow servicemen and women. 
  • Security Clearance Problems – In a modern military, a much broader population of service people are required to obtain security clearance to perform their duties fully. Intelligence handling, operating cutting-edge technology, and keeping command and control procedures secure are not activities reserved for only a few high-ranking officers. Many enlisted service members and non-commissioned officers must hold a high-level security clearance, even to perform repair and maintenance on military computers.  


If you are interested in or planning to enlist in one of the armed services and you are facing Florida DUI, you need to consult with a highly experienced Florida DUI defense lawyer who can provide you with the most effective defense. Your military career can depend on the choice of counsel you make.  


Whereas a civilian facing a DUI may opt to accept a disposition in which the DUI charge is amended to a “wet reckless,” such a result may not be in the interest of a prospective military candidate. When a prosecutor’s DUI evidence is less than rock solid, or when a defendant has a clear criminal history or other mitigating life circumstances, a negotiated plea is sometimes arranged to allow the driver to avoid a DUI conviction on their permanent record. Reckless driving with adjudication withheld carries some similar penalties but is able to be expunged from the record.  


Military recruiters are not impressed with such amendments.  


Effectively Defending a DUI Charge is Essential for Military Service 


While a candidate’s DUI arrest will be of concern to a military recruiting officer, winning an acquittal is an extremely powerful factor in how the DUI charge will be viewed. 


After many years of representing hundreds of DUI defendants in trials and many hundreds more in cases that were resolved before trial, The Stechschulte Nell DUI Defense Law Office in Tampa can launch a powerful and effective defense against the state’s DUI allegations. 


DUI defense is a specialized strategy that is distinct from other criminal defenses because it is heavily dependent on several technical and scientific principles.  


Some of the important factors that can determine the outcome of a DUI prosecution include these issues: 


  • Analysis of the officer’s grounds for the traffic stop. Did they have “reasonable articulable suspicion?” 
  • Deconstructing the detailed events during the personal interaction between the officer and the driver prior to the officer concluding that a DUI occurred. 
  • Examination of the precise manner in which the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests were administered, including the instruction phase, the driver’s performance, and the scoring phase. Did the officer demonstrate the test properly? Were the instructions correct and clear Were weather, lighting, and surface conditions appropriate? Did the officer ask about the driver’s medical or physical limitations? 
  • Was there probable cause for the arrest? 
  • Were proper warnings given to the driver, Miranda, and pre-breath test advisory? 


Read More > Criminal Defense for Military Members  


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If you hope to join the U.S. armed services, or if you are already serving in the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marines, your DUI charge can derail what would otherwise be a long and rewarding career of service to your country. Don’t let a DUI interfere with your future.  


Contact Tampa’s experienced military DUI defense lawyers Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law. Call 813-280-1244 for a FREE DUI case review today.  

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