No branch of the U.S. Armed Forces allows an individual with a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction to join. However, there are ways you can work around this rule if you wish to join the military with a DUI on your record. With assistance from a Scottsdale DUI lawyer, you can take advantage of expungements and loopholes to prevent one mistake from ruining your future.
The military is very selective when choosing its new recruits. To join the military, an individual must go through a process known as a “Moral Character Screening of Credit and Criminal Background.” This screens recruits through the use of a rigorous background check. While a criminal conviction will not automatically prevent someone from joining the military, it can make it much more difficult. If a DUI shows up on an applicant’s record, it is flagged and can prevent the person from enlisting.
The military is strict with DUIs for a few reasons. First, people with criminal convictions on their records often have a harder time obtaining necessary security clearances for the military. A DUI crime in particular can be problematic because it may mean that the applicant does not have a valid license or cannot get one. A DUI could also point to a problem with alcohol abuse, and the military has a long history of excluding people with substance abuse disorders.
It is important to note that a DUI will only count against you when trying to enlist if you were convicted of this crime under state law (Arizona Revised Statutes Section 28-1381). If you were found not guilty of a DUI or a court decision later reversed your conviction, it will not present an obstacle during a military background check.
If the charges were dismissed, the DUI arrest itself could still appear on your permanent record. A DUI will also appear if you were found guilty, pleaded no contest, received a reduced conviction and even if you had your Arizona DUI record expunged. A DUI on your record may not automatically prevent you from joining the military, however. There are ways to work around this issue.
Fortunately, the military recognizes that people make mistakes. It offers something called a Criminal Record Waiver that can be used for certain minor offenses. This will waive your military inadmissibility based on a minor traffic offense, minor nontraffic offense, misdemeanor or juvenile offense.
If you qualify for a waiver for an underage DUI or were reckless, for example, this can reinstate your eligibility to join the military. The branch of the military involved in your application can approve or deny your DUI waiver at its own discretion. Some branches are more lenient with DUI records than others, such as the U.S. Army with first-time offenders. If your application for the waiver is denied, however, there is no way to appeal.
Joining the military with a DUI conviction or arrest on your record is possible. There are simply additional steps that you should take to improve your chances of being enlisted. A lawyer can help you with these steps, such as increasing the chances of receiving a waiver by having your DUI record set aside. This can help you prove your good moral character. A lawyer may also be able to offer advice with steps such as getting letters of recommendation and character witnesses. An attorney will prepare your criminal record for a military background check as much as possible before you apply to boost your odds of success.