Don’t Let a Texas DWI Ruin Your Army Career

A driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction can have a long-lasting effect on a military career, whether you are charged and convicted here in Texas or while serving overseas. Drunk driving and the military simply do not mix.

All branches of the military - Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines - maintain a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving. In Texas, the threshold limit for a DWI is 0.08. In the military, you can be charged with drinking and driving if there is any alcohol found in your system. If you're in the military and arrested for DWI in Texas, you may face three separate punishment systems: the administrative license revocation, a criminal trial and sentencing and a military courts martial.

texas administrative license revocation

The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) is in addition to any criminal or military charges you may face related to drinking and driving. If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, you will be given a field sobriety test and asked to submit to chemical testing. If you refuse the chemical test, you are violating Texas' implied consent law and your driver's license can be revoked.

If you fail the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test, your license will be revoked. The arresting officer will confiscate your driver's license and issue a temporary permit. You may request a hearing on the license suspension within 15 days of the date it was suspended, typically 15 days from the date of your arrest.

the texas criminal trial

Not all DWI charges go to trial. Some are dismissed due to lack of evidence and some are plead out to a lesser infraction. Your El Paso DWI defense attorney can help you determine the path most appropriate for your situation.

a military courts martial for a texas dwi

For those serving in the military - stationed in El Paso at Fort Bliss, or at another Army, Air Force or Navy base throughout Texas - the consequences of a DWI conviction don't stop after the criminal side is complete. You may also face a Military Courts Martial for more severe drunk-driving charges or discipline within your unit or command.

A DWI conviction while serving in the military can effectively end your Army career. You may be dishonorably discharged or you may be allowed to remain in the military but never be able to advance or make rank.

There may be more immediate consequences as well. In addition to a Letter of Reprimand in a soldier's permanent record, a DWI conviction can result in a drop in your current rank and pay grade, additional duty, substance abuse training coursework and even a loss of special clearances needed to do your job. A Texas military criminal defense attorney can explain the problems that a single DWI conviction can create for your Army career.

Service members will immediately have their government driving privileges suspended if you are charged with a DWI offense, have a blood alcohol content of over 0.05 percent (even lower than Texas' legal limit) or you refuse to take a chemical test. The maximum punishment depends on whether the intoxication caused personal injury:

  • No personal injury: bad-conduct discharge; forfeit all pay and allowances; six months of confinement
  • Personal injury: dishonorable discharge, forfeit all pay and allowances; 18 months of confinement

In 2009, the Army amended Regulation 600-85 to require initiation for separation if a service person:

  • Received two DWI convictions during their career; or
  • Was involved in two incidences of alcohol-related misconduct in a year

If the formal consequences were not severe enough, DWI offenders often experience ridicule and animosity from colleagues and superiors as the prevailing feeling is that a DWI disgraces that particular military base. Some service members have experienced on-going embarrassment by continually being asked to share their negative experience with would-be DWI offenders.

A DWI conviction can wreak havoc on even the most distinguished of military careers. If you serve in the military and have been charged with a DWI offense, contact an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney to defend you, your rights and your career.