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Military members: Seek legal help with a DUI charge

Drunk driving is a serious charge. If you're a member of the military, though, the repercussions could be even more serious.

Military members who are accused of DUI on a military base could face a court martial or an Article 15, which means a commander can enforce discipline without a court-martial hearing. If you're charged with DUI off post, you also can face punishment. Whether an on-base or off-base arrest, a commander could require you to complete an alcohol treatment program or receive extra duty. Or, you even could have a reduction in grade or be barred from reenlisting.

The same case can be charged in both military and civilian courts, and the two systems will coordinate on the prosecution. Still, you can be charged in both jurisdictions, depending on where the alleged offense occurred, and even if the charges are dropped or you're found not guilty in a civilian court, the military court can proceed with charges.

If the arrest occurs on a military base, you won't be charged criminally in civilian court. Still, the state can impose penalties such as a license suspension or an interlock device requirement.

If a military member is arrested on DUI charges outside the boundaries of a military installation, the civilian court will take jurisdiction. But that doesn't mean the military won't get involved. A commanding officer can take administrative actions, such as revoking certain privileges or requiring substance abuse treatment. Or, the military still can file DUI charges in that system once the civilian case is over.

And what if you're a civilian, such as a post employee or a military spouse, who is stopped for an alleged DUI on a military installation? You'll be charged in a federal court, which will follow the DUI laws of the state.

If you are a military member charged in a civilian DUI case in Georgia, you'll want to consult with a civilian attorney to help you with your legal issues. There's a lot at stake.

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