Cogdill Nichols Rein Wartelle Andrews (CNRWA)

Contact Us Today


Trusted Legal Counsel In Everett And Beyond

Why a Washington DUI is a concern for military servicemembers

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Military servicemembers, like everyone else in Washington, can end up arrested for seemingly victimless crimes. Driving under the influence (DUI) arrests often occur during traffic stops, which means that they may take place even when someone’s alleged impairment has not caused anyone harm. Therefore, many people have a permissive attitude toward DUI offenses. They think that at least the first DUI that someone faces will likely be a minor issue. People often assume that a judge won’t sentence someone to jail time, although up to 364 days in state custody could be possible after a first DUI charge. Fines could also cost someone thousands, and the state will probably suspend their driver’s license.

There are some servicemembers who assume that they won’t get into very serious trouble as long as a DUI arrest occurs on base rather than on civilian roads. What many servicemembers do not realize is that a Washington DUI could forever alter their military career, regardless of where it happens.

The military has a no-tolerance policy

Someone pulled over while on base won’t just be able to talk someone else out of arresting them or notifying the chain of command about their intoxication at the wheel. While there may be a camaraderie between servicemembers, but does not mean that those tasked with enforcing the rules on base property will ignore their obligations out of a sense of social duty to the person who broke the rules.

An on-base offense could very well lead to someone’s immediate arrest and then court-martial proceedings. A civilian DUI could also result in military consequences. A conviction or guilty plea could trigger discipline within the military, ranging from discharge and incarceration to reduced pay. Although some servicemembers think that they should simply plead guilty to a DUI and then pay their fines, doing so might prove a major setback for their career. There are often ways to defend against DUI charges. Some people challenge the validity of traffic stops, while others raise questions about the accuracy of chemical test results.

Discussing a case with a criminal defense attorney may help someone who is facing a Washington DUI minimize any impact that those charges could possibly have on their military career.