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DUI for Active Duty Military

Tampa is the only city in the nation with two major military command posts—U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM or CENTCOM) and the U.S. Special Operations Command Center (USSOCOM or SOCOM). Both are headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base. In addition to the active duty members of the military in Tampa, the city is home to an estimated 22,000 veterans.

The DUI defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent active duty members of the military who are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) and other criminal offenses.

Being charged with a crime as a member of the military or while stationed at MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa, FL, means the stakes are even higher.

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent active duty military on a variety of misdemeanor and felony offenses in the greater Tampa Bay area, including criminal charges for DUI. Although the vast majority of DUI arrests occur off the military base, occasionally, the DUI arrest occurs on the military base or other federally owned property.

For an active duty member of the military, getting accused of driving while intoxicated by alcoholic beverages or impaired by chemical or controlled substances, creates a host of special problems that depend, to some extent, on where the arrest occurred. You need to hire civilian counsel at your own expense if either or both:

  1. the arresting officer issued you a notice of an administrative suspension of your driver’s license for having a BAC over .08 or refusing a breath, blood or urine test (even if you do not have a Florida driver’s license); and/or
  2. your DUI case will be prosecuted in state court; or
  3. your DUI / DWI case will be prosecuted in federal court after an arrest on a military base or on property owned by the federal government.
  4. You are facing a military administrative action resulting in the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license or on-base driving privileges for intoxicated driving.

Your first goal is to hire the best criminal defense attorney for your case based on their experience fighting that type of case in state court. It is also helpful if the attorney has experience with the special issues facing active duty members of the military.

At the Sammis Law Firm, we can handle every aspect of your case during each stage of the process.

DUI Attorney for Active Duty Military in Tampa, FL

You can retain civilian counsel to represent you during:

  • the formal review hearing at the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR) with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV); or
  • the DUI case being prosecuted in state court; or
  • contesting the on-base suspension of your driving privileges.

Contact the Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm, P.A. With offices in downtown Tampa just a few blocks from the courthouse, we represent members of the military charged with a crime while on or off of the military base. A conviction for a criminal offense can be a career-ending event if not handled correctly.

The good news is that DUI defense attorneys in Tampa, FL, provide a free consultation. We are familiar with the different ways these cases can be resolved including a nonjudicial punishment or Article 15.

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent members of the U.S. Air Force and other branches of the military including the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard. Contact the lawyers at Sammis Law Firm, P.A., to discuss your case. We can help you fight to protect your rights.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call (813) 250-0500 today.


DUI Arrest on a Military Base

If you were arrested on a military base (or other property owned by the federal government), your case will be prosecuted in federal court.

The good news is that the incident is not typically reported to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), even if you are ultimately convicted of a federal DUI or a lesser charge such as reckless driving.

Many DUI offenses that occur on base are subject to a Non-Judicial Punishment under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, although the case can be prosecuted in federal court.

A reduction to a less serious offense in federal court or a complete dismissal of the case is typically the goal in these cases. The criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are experienced in representing people charged with DUI in federal court.


DUI Arrest off a Military Base

If you were arrested off base, you need to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney to fight the administrative suspension of your Florida driving privileges with the DHSMV (even if you have an out of state driver’s license).

Act quickly because you only have 10 days to DEMAND a formal review hearing. For this reason, it is best to retain a criminal defense attorney within the first ten (10) days after your arrest.

You also need a criminal defense attorney for the DUI case being prosecuted in state court by a prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office. In these cases, your prosecution follows the same track as anyone else charged with DUI in the state system, although special consideration is often given to active duty members of the military.


An Article 15 (Nonjudicial Punishment Proceeding) for a DUI

In some cases, your commanding officer in the military might request the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office drop the criminal charge so that the military can pursue an Article 15 resolution or court-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Although this outcome is relatively rare for a misdemeanor offense that does not involve injuries, for members of the U.S. Air Force stationed at MacDill Airforce Based, it is possible for the commanding officer to pursue the Article 15 disposition of the case either on an administrative basis or as a Military Offense.

If the military is seeking an Article 15, you will receive a form called the “record of nonjudicial punishment proceedings.” For members of the U.S. Air Force, for example, the current form is entitled “AF3070, 20150409 (EF-V1).” The other branches of the military have similar forms.


Record of Nonjudicial Punishment Proceedings – Form AF3070, 20150409 (EF-V1)

The form offers you notice that a “Nonjudicial Punishment” is being considered by your commanding officer as a punishment for your alleged misconduct under Article 15, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

The form gives you notice that you have the right to consult with a criminal defense lawyer before making any decision and to have a lawyer assist you throughout the proceedings.

The Form AF3070, 20150409 (EF-V1) provides:

“You have an appointment scheduled with the Area Defense Counsel, in bldg _____________, (phone) __________________, at _______________ (time), ________________(date). ADC consultation is not mandatory and if you choose not to consult Defense Counsel, you should cancel the scheduled appointment.”

If you accept nonjudicial punishment proceedings and are found to have committed one or more of the offenses alleged, the maximum punishment the commander taking action may impose on you is listed on Page 3. The form requires you to notify your commander of your decision by a certain time and date unless your commander grants you an extension of time.

You will be asked to waive your right to court-martial in order to accept the nonjudicial punishment proceedings or you can demand trial by court-martial in lieu of nonjudicial punishment. In the vast majority of these cases, a member of the military will request the nonjudicial punishment instead of demanding a trial by court-martial.


Penalties for the Nonjudicial Punishment

If you accept the nonjudicial option, your commander might be the one making the decision about the punishment. Your commander will consider the evidence, including any matters you have presented.

If nonjudicial punishment is not appropriate or you did not commit the offense(s) alleged then your commander will terminate the proceedings.

If you are found to have committed one or more of the offenses alleged, your commanding officer will determine the nonjudicial punishment that is appropriate and impose punishment listed in item 14 on the form which can include any of the following penalties:

  • reductions in grade; or
  • forfeitures in pay.

Suspensions of any punishment are effective immediately. All other punishments take effect when you are notified of the punishment unless otherwise stated.


Appealing the Nonjudicial Punishment

The AF3070, 20150409 (EF-V1) form requires you to acknowledge receipt of the punishment and your right to appeal. You must notify your commander by a certain time and date of whether you will appeal the decision.

You are entitled to the advice of a criminal defense counsel in making this decision.

You must notify your commanding officer your appeal decision and submit any matters you wish considered within the time provided or your right to appeal is waived.

Any documents supporting your appeal must be submitted at the same time you make your appeal decision. Your decision not to appeal is final.


Rights of Members of the U.S. Air Force After a Criminal Accusation

1. You have all the rights specified in Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), in part V of the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) and in Air Force Instruction (AFI) 51-202, Nonjudicial Punishment. These rights are summarized below:

a. You have the right to consult a lawyer before making any decisions, and a lawyer may assist you throughout the proceedings. A military defense counsel is available to advise you, free of charge, or you may retain civilian counsel at your own expense.

b. You have the right:

(1) to accept nonjudicial proceedings under Article 15, UCMJ, in which case your commander (or the commander to whom this action is sent) will decide whether you committed the alleged offense, or

(2) to demand trial by court-martial which requires proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

You have 3 duty days to make this decision unless you request an extension of time and the commander grants the extension. Your acceptance of nonjudicial punishment proceedings is not an admission that you committed the alleged misconduct. The commander will make that decision only after you present your evidence or statement in defense if you choose to do so.

c. If you demand a trial by court-martial, charges could be referred for trial by a special or general court-martial. You have a right to be represented by counsel at a court-martial. You have additional rights at a trial by court-martial which you should ask your lawyer to explain.

d. You have the right to examine the evidence against you before you make any decisions. Your lawyer may assist you in making a statement and/or obtaining evidence in your defense, and for use in extenuation and mitigation.

 e. If you accept nonjudicial punishment proceedings, you have the right (1) to make a full oral and/or written presentation to the commander (or a designee, in some cases) who will decide your punishment, (2) to present witnesses who are reasonably available, and (3) to be accompanied by someone to speak on your behalf. You may request the proceeding be open or closed to the public, but the commander makes the decision.

f. You do not have to make any oral or written statement regarding the offense(s) of which you are accused and any statement made may be used as evidence against you in a later proceeding. See Article 31b, UCMJ.

2. If the commander imposes punishment, you have 5 calendar days to appeal to the next superior commander. You have the right to consult with a lawyer before deciding whether to appeal and to assist you in your appeal. In your appeal, you may present additional written matters.

Note 1: If a personal appearance is made to someone other than the commander who will impose punishment, that person sends, by separate endorsement, a summary of the appearance and copies of all documents presented, to the imposing commander.

Note 2: The date and time in item 1e must be a minimum of 3 duty days (including weekends and holidays if normally scheduled duty days for the member) from the date and time the member is notified in item 2.

Note 3: The initiating commander may direct a subordinate, senior to the member, when practicable, to notify and serve the member. The person serving the member, whether the commander or subordinate, signs and annotates the date and time of service.

Note 4: The date and time in item 4c must be a minimum of 5 calendar days from the date and time the member is notified in item 5.

Note 5: If the imposing commander grants less than the full relief requested, the commander must forward the appeal to the appellate authority through the servicing Staff Judge Advocate. See AFI 51-202, paragraph 4.6, for further guidance.

Note 6: See AFI 36-2907, Unfavorable Information File (UIF) Program, for further guidance.

Note 7: A continuation page may be used if necessary. Identify the information by the item number.


The Maximum Permissible Punishments for the Nonjudicial Proceeding 

1. If the commander imposing punishment is a:

  1. Lieutenant Colonel or above:
    • Forfeiture of one-half month’s pay per month for two months;
    • 60 days restriction;
    • 45 days extra duty
    • 30 days correctional custody, a reprimand, and reduction of one grade;
    • E-4 and below may be reduced to E-1.
  2. Major:
    • Forfeiture of one-half month’s pay per month for two months;
    • 60 days restriction;
    • 45 days extra duty;
    • 30 days correctional custody;
    • a reprimand;
    • reduction of one grade for E-5;
    • E-4 and below may be reduced to E-1.
  3. Lieutenant or Captain:
    • Forfeiture of 7 days pay;
    • 14 days restriction;
    • 14 days extra duty;
    • 7 days correctional custody;
    • a reprimand; and
    • reduction of one grade for E-5 and below only.

2. Restriction and extra duties may be combined to run concurrently, but the combination may not exceed the maximum imposable for extra duties.

Correctional custody may not be imposed in combination with restriction or extra duties. If a reduction is imposed, forfeiture of pay is based on the grade to which the member was reduced, even if the reduction was suspended. See Part V, MCM, for additional guidance.


Recouping Education Assistance, Special Pay or Bonuses

In many of these cases, your commanding officer will require you to acknowledge the following:

  • I understand that the Air Force may be entitled to recoup a portion of education assistance, special pay, or bonus money which I received, if any, if I separate before completing the period of active duty I agreed to serve.
  • I understand this recoupment applies regardless whether I voluntarily separate or I am involuntarily discharged. I further understand:
    • the recoupment in all cases is an amount that bears the same ratio to the total amount or cost provided to me, as the unserved portion of active duty bears to the total period of active duty I agreed to serve; and
    • that if I dispute that I am indebted for educational assistance, a board or other authority will make findings and recommendations concerning the validity of the indebtedness.

This article was last updated by Leslie Sammis on Monday, August 20, 2018.

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