Officially, you are not allowed to join the military if you have any kind of DUI conviction on your record. This is true for all branches of the United States Armed Forces. However, there are circumstances where you may be able to join anyway.
There are several reasons why the military does not take (most) recruits with DUIs:
- The U.S. military has a long tradition of excluding individuals with substance abuse problems. Although DUI does not necessarily imply an addiction, the two are commonly associated and are seen in a similar light by military officials.
- Individuals with DUIs on their records may have a suspended license or have difficulty obtaining a license, which can affect suitability for military service.
- Individuals with criminal records may have difficulty obtaining security clearances.
Because of this, there are longstanding rules that the military cannot hire any recruit with a DUI unless they receive a waiver.
What counts as a DUI for military service?
The military is more strict than other employers. Your DUI will count against you if:
- You were found guilty
- You pleaded No Contest to receive a reduced sentence
- You received a wet reckless conviction instead of DUI
- You were convicted but you’ve had the DUI expunged
On the other hand, a DUI will not count against you if:
- You were found Not Guilty, or
- Your conviction was later completely reversed by another court decision (on appeal)
If your case was dismissed, it could still be held against you but it may not be. You should speak to your recruiter.
How do I get a waiver for my DUI?
In the past, it was very common for recruits with DUIs to get approved for waivers. In the recent past, this was especially true during the Gulf War of the 1990s and the buildup of troops for our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. While the need for troops does not guarantee that a DUI will be waived, it does make the military much more flexible in who they accept.
Today, unfortunately, that situation has reversed. “Reduction in Force” programs (RIF) have gone into effect to help the military meet budget targets now that we have largely exited from Afghanistan and Iraq. In other words, the military has less need for troops and has rejected many waivers.
You are most likely to get your DUI waived if:
- You have completed all aspects of your sentence and probation
- Your DUI is not a felony
- No one was hurt in your DUI
There is no hard and fast rule, however. The best thing you can do is talk to your recruiter about your DUI and ask them what they recommend. In some cases a recruiter will take up your case and help you get your waiver approved. Remember, what you tell your recruiter about your DUI is confidential and they cannot share it. They are your best avenue to get your DUI waived.
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.