Protecting the Rights of Military Personnel

While DUI charges for civilians are severe, the penalties for receiving a DUI in the military can have even more significant impacts on your life. Military personnel may be required to appear in civilian court, military court, or both. You could also face Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP), Captain’s Mast, and other administrative actions. Your rank and responsibilities could be affected, as well as your ability to continue working in your position.

If you have been charged with a military DUI in California, hiring an experienced criminal defense team is the best way to protect yourself and your freedom. Our attorneys at the DUI Defense Group only handle cases involving DUI arrests, so we are confident we can assist you. To reduce or remove the penalties you are facing with help from our knowledgeable team, contact us today by calling 866-927-3295.

What is a DUI in California?

In California, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.08% is illegal. If you are under the age of 21, you can be charged with a DUI in California if you have a BAC of 0.01% or higher. California has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving, hence the harsh penalties for underage drivers.

Commercial vehicle drivers can be arrested and charged with a DUI if their BAC is higher than 0.04%. They could also face a license suspension or revocation.

Below are the potential penalties that anyone could face for a DUI in California:

  • Suspension or revocation of a driver’s license for a minimum of four months
  • Community service
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • Six months in county jail
  • Confiscation of a motor vehicle
  • Probation
  • Substance abuse treatment

What is a Military DUI?

A military DUI describes when any active duty military member is arrested for driving under the influence. Military personnel can incur civilian criminal charges plus military punitive measures for the same crime.

There are two kinds of military DUIs that you could face:

Military DUI on Base

An on-base DUI happens when military police arrest a military member for driving under the influence while on base. Military members will be charged under Article 111 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The code states that active duty military members can be punished with administrative action and a court martial. Military members arrested on base will not incur civilian criminal charges. However, they could face administrative penalties from the DMV.

Military DUI off Base

An off-base military DUI happens when civilian authorities arrest a military member for driving under the influence of alcohol. Military members will be charged under California Vehicle Code section 23152(b). The law states that any person operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or more can be charged with a DUI. In most cases, off-base DUIs lead to a trial in civilian court. However, your commanding officer may choose to take further military action.

What Are the Potential Penalties of a Military DUI?

If you are an active duty military member, you will likely face military consequences even if you are arrested by civilian authorities. It is highly likely that your chain of command will find out about your charges once you are booked. Your commanding officers will make their own inquiries about your charges and determine whether they want to take further action.
Below are the potential penalties of a military DUI:

Adverse Administrative Action

Administrative action results in non-judicial punishment. You could be required to complete a mandatory substance abuse treatment, and you may also be assigned to work extra hours during the week or work over the weekend. Your leave privileges will likely be revoked, meaning you will be restricted to the barracks on weekends. Your chain of command will send you a formal letter of reprimand detailing your punishment, which will stay on your military record.


Judicial punishment can be imposed on any active duty military members. This could include loss of rank, reduction in pay grade, military separation proceedings, forfeiture of pay, or being sentenced to the brigs. If you are facing a court-martial and need legal representation, reach out to our team immediately.

What Are the Most Common Defenses Against a Military DUI?

There are many potential defenses for a DUI that will depend on the specific nature of your charges. However, there are some common defense strategies that may be relevant to you.

Below are the most common defenses against a military DUI:

  • Lack of probable cause. Officers must have reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence. Without that probable cause, the entire case against you could be invalid.
  • Violation of Miranda Rights. You have rights under the law, even if you are arrested or detained. If officers question you without reading your rights or offering access to a lawyer, the charges you are facing may be dropped.
  • Inaccurate test results. Breath and blood tests are used to test blood alcohol content, but they can be faulty.

How Can a Defense Lawyer Help Me?

Whether you are charged on base or off base, you have the right to seek legal counsel as an active duty military member. Our team will review the facts of your case and can represent you in both civilian court and before your commanding officers. At the DUI Defense Group, we only represent clients who have been charged with DUIs, so we are confident we can assist you. To speak to an experienced member of our team and receive a free consultation, contact us today by calling 866-927-3295.