Driving under the influence is a serious charge for any individual, especially in Alaska. The state has some of the harshest penalties in the United States for DUIs. However, for a military servicemember, a DUI conviction can be even more life-altering, as these individuals can face penalties from both civilian and military courts.
Potential fall-out from the military
Depending on whether you were arrested on or off base, the military court and civilian court can charge you separately. Worse, even if you are acquitted civilly, you may still face punishment from a military court. The military has even stricter rules than Alaska with regards to DUIs. Driving with any blood alcohol content, even if it is below the legal limit, can carry penalties. These consequences can range from administrative punishments at the discretion of your commanding officer to disciplinary action to a court martial and, possibly, dishonorable discharge.
Potential civil consequences
As previously mentioned, Alaska has some of the toughest DUI laws in the nation. A first-time DUI conviction in civil court results in a minimum fine of $1,500, mandatory jail time of at least 72 hours, a 90-day driver’s license suspension, 12-months ignition interlock upon reinstatement of your license, a mandatory drug or alcohol evaluation and possibly court-ordered treatment. The penalties in terms of fines and jail time increase with each subsequent offense.
It is likely that, as a servicemember, you have access to free legal counsel for military court. However, you will have to pay for representation in civil court. It is essential that the attorney you hire understands the severity of a DUI for an active servicemember. If you find yourself in a position to need representation for a DUI, choose your counsel wisely. Your future depends on it.