Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series on the real cost of a driving under the influence charge.
With the holiday season here, more people may attend parties or events where alcohol is present. Making the decision to operate a motor vehicle after drinking could be costly to the driver, fellow Soldiers who participate or innocent victims of auto crashes.
Richard Hearron, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Riley Safety Office director, said even if there isn't damage caused to vehicles or property, a charge of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated can be expensive. With the fine cost, attorney fees and insurances rate increases, a DUI can cost $20,000 or more.
"Then you get into the cost of education, towing and storage, license reissue and awareness," he said.
The costs for a Soldier who gets a DUI are much higher. Master Sgt. Charles Davis, Jr., senior military justice operations non-commissioned officer, Staff Judge Advocate office, said the Soldier is now facing promotional issues.
"At a certain level, when you're being looked at for promotion, it is handled at a Department of the Army level," he said. "Normally, having a DUI filed in your permanent military record is a discriminating factor. That includes just being pulled over, because if you blow over a 0.8, it goes in your file."
Being pulled over off post versus on the installation can bring about different
According to an article on militaryonesource.mil, civilian punishments vary from state to state and are harsh for repeat offenders. They may include any of the following:
• Criminal law penalties -- If arrested for a DUI or DWI, the person may be subject to jail time, fines and community service.
• Suspension or revocation of your license -- If blood alcohol content is above the state limit for intoxication or the person refuses to submit to testing, they may have their driver's license suspended or revoked for a period of time. Additionally, the installation commander may suspend or revoke the Soldier's on-installation driving privileges.
• Mandatory alcohol education and assessment and treatment -- The Soldier may be required to attend a DUI prevention
program and submit to an assessment of potential alcohol dependency problems.
• Vehicle confiscation -- The state may be able to seize the vehicle, either permanently or for a set time period.
• Ignition interlock -- The individual arrested for DUI or DWI can be required to install a vehicle ignition interlock breath-testing device that measures the driver's blood alcohol content and will not let them start their vehicle if more than a minimal amount of alcohol is detected.
The article states that punitive actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice are possible if civilian authorities do not prosecute. Although a Soldier cannot be charged for the same incident on and off the installation, they can still be punished under the code for misconduct and other lesser offenses as a result of the off-installation DUI. Military punitive actions may include:
• Judicial punishment or court-martial -- If stopped on the installation, or the civilian
authorities are not prosecuting, Soldiers can receive a court-martial under Article 111 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Punishments can include loss of pay, reduction in grade, confinement and dismissal from the military.
• Nonjudicial punishment -- Commanding officers can levy nonjudicial punishment for minor disciplinary offenses under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under nonjudicial punishment, commanding officers can punish the Soldier through an official reprimand, extra duty, restriction to limits, forfeiture of pay and reduction of grade.
Regardless of whether the Soldier is being charged by civilian authorities or receiving Uniform Code of Military Justice action, their commanding officer can take administrative actions against them including any of the
• Letter of reprimand -- A letter of reprimand is a formal document that details the wrongful actions and the punishment that can be expected. Although less severe than a court-martial, it can be career-ending, as the letter remains in the Soldier's record.
• Revocation of pass privileges -- The commander can revoke the Soldier's ability to go on leave.
• Mandatory referral to a substance abuse treatment program -- The commander can mandate that the Soldier enrolls in and completes a substance abuse treatment program.
• Corrective training -- The commander may require corrective training if he or she believes the Soldier would benefit from additional
• Administrative reduction in grade -- Depending on the Soldier's situation and rank, the commander can reduce the Soldier's grade.
• Bar to re-enlistment -- A bar to re-enlistment is a procedure that commanders may use to deny the Soldier the opportunity to re-enlist.
For Fort Riley, the commanding general has signed a new policy requiring all Soldiers who have been charged with a DUI to go through a remedial drivers training program before their on-post driving privileges will be
"The program is conducted over a four-day weekend," Hearron said. "It takes time away from the Soldier. When you take a day off away from a Soldier, that is serious business. The policy was just signed last week and the first class is scheduled for 17 January."