Can you afford the true cost of a DUI ?

  • Published
  • By Capt. September Foy and Tech. Sgt. Crystal Harris
As the office of the Area Defense Counsel here at Robins, it's our honor and privilege to defend our Airmen. 

During our time at Robins, we've seen a rise in the number of Airmen getting charged with Driving Under the Influence. Airmen don't often understand the true consequences that can flow from a DUI conviction, and the consequences can be career-ending.   

The first concern when an Airman is in a DUI situation is safety. 

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to a serious accident, or even death. A common theme we encounter, however, is an Airman who was out at a restaurant, bar or friend's house and had a few drinks but felt OK to drive. 

Each person's body metabolizes alcohol differently, so there's no set formula for when a person is OK to drive after drinking. Even if someone feels OK, their blood alcohol content can still be over the limit. A person can also feel drunk with a low BAC. The best thing to do is to just not drink and drive. Period.  Don't even have one drink. It's not worth the risk.  

If you find yourself facing off-base DUI charges, the first thing that will happen is that the Air Force will request jurisdiction, or legal authority, over your case. 

Usually the Air Force doesn't get jurisdiction, and the Airman faces not only a lengthy and expensive court hearing downtown, but also adverse actions from the Air Force. If you're facing a DUI off-base, it's always a good idea to consult with a civilian attorney, as we're only authorized to deal with Air Force matters. 

If you're convicted of a DUI off-base, your car insurance could go up, you'll have court fees and possibly court-mandated classes to attend. 

The DUI would be on your driving record for years. On the Air Force side, the Airman could receive a Letter of Reprimand, an administrative demotion, an Unfavorable Information File, a Control Roster, loss of on-base driving privileges for one year, and most-likely a referral EPR. 

If you're receiving tuition assistance, you would not be eligible for that. A deployment could be cancelled. If you have a line number to sew-on the next higher grade, that stripe would most-likely be red-lined.  

But, the most severe consequence is losing a stripe. Depending on when in your career you lose the stripe, it could put you in danger of reaching High Year Tenure. For officers, getting a DUI means probably receiving a LOR, which triggers a mandatory UIF and probably a referral OPR. It will be almost impossible to make rank with a referral OPR. 

If the Air Force gets jurisdiction, then the Airman could receive an Article 15, UIF, Control Roster and a referral EPR/OPR.  

It truly isn't worth the risk. It's better to fork over the money for a cab than to risk the safety of everyone in your vehicle and others on the road, the thousands of dollars getting a DUI costs, and possibly risking your entire career.  

If you do find yourself in need of assistance, the Robins Area Defense Counsel office is here to help. Communications are covered by attorney-client privilege, and remember you have the right to remain silent when being questioned by law enforcement. For more information, call DSN 468-5852 or 478-926-5852.