Will a DUI Stop Me From Joining the Military?

By Jonathan Blecher on June 22, 2016

Let’s say you were convicted of driving under the influence in Florida in 2012. At the time, you were just 19-years-old. It was a simple first-time DUI, nobody else was involved, there was no accident and no one was hurt.

Your driver’s license was suspended for one year, and you have since proven that you are a law-abiding citizen and a productive member of society. You graduated from college, and now you want to join the Navy.

But, your DUI is in the back of your mind. Now you’re wondering, “Is there anything I can do to get the DUI off my record?” You also want to know if the DUI conviction will bar you from joining the U.S. Armed Forces. These are good questions indeed.

No Expungements for Adjudications of Guilt

Unfortunately, a DUI defendant cannot get their record sealed or expunged if the courts found the individual guilty. In the case of a DUI conviction, the defendant’s only hope would be a governor’s pardon, and the chances of that happening are slim to none.

Why no leniency? Under Florida law, a DUI conviction makes it so a person is ineligible to have their records sealed or an expungement. On the other hand, if you pled to a lesser offense, such as reckless involving alcohol and you received a withhold of adjudication, you may be eligible for an expungement.

If an expungement is not an option, you may want to consider a Motion to Vacate Judgement and Conviction, though you may have surpassed the time limit to file this motion.

One approach may be to see if an attorney can sit down with the head of the State Attorney’s Office DUI division and see if something can be “worked out.” That is one avenue to explore.

Can I join the military with a DUI?

When you apply for the military, you will undergo an intensive background check. Once the arresting officer inputs the incident report in the computer, it is housed in a database. The military will see the DUI arrest, whether it resulted in a conviction or not.

I have seen soldiers get into the military with a DUI on their record; the Army is known for requiring a waiver, assuming the applicant’s DUI was a misdemeanor. If it was a felony DUI, then it’s a no-go.

The waiver process is arduous, but most applicants survive it and they will usually attest that it was worth the wait!

If you have further questions about joining the military with a DUI, or if you wish to contest your charges, don’t hesitate to give me a call!

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