What Happens If I’m Charged with DWI While Serving in the Military in Texas?

Military personnel are held to a higher standard than civilians in Texas. If they commit a crime, they face the same penalties, but they could face disciplinary action ranging from reprimand to a military court-martial.

If you serve in the military on one of the many bases located in Texas and you were recently charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), you might feel anxious, nervous, and scared about what’s to come. In this blog, we’ll offer more insight into what happens if members of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, or Space Force are charged with DWI.

1. Penalties

Military personnel face three separate proceedings that each carry their own punishment. First is the administrative license revocation hearing, where you must argue to keep your driver’s license. The second is the criminal trial for the actual DWI. And the third is the possibility of facing a military court-martial.

Under Texas law, a DWI arrest is made if the offender’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.

A first-time DWI is a Class C B misdemeanor, for which, if convicted, you may spend up to 180 days in county jail and pay up to $2,000 in fines. Second-time DWI arrests are Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.

2. Additional Penalties

a military commander aggressively training a soldier

Military personnel may face additional penalties from their military command, and just one DWI could end your military career. Besides the civilian court punishment, you will face a military court-martial if the DWI charges are severe plus disciplinary measures from your command or unit, which include but are not limited to dishonorable discharge.

Even if you avoid a dishonorable discharge, you may not be allowed to advance to a higher rank. You may also receive a letter of reprimand, which stays on your permanent military record. If you are convicted of DWI, your rank and pay could drop, you may not receive additional duty, and you may lose special clearance statuses that are necessary for your job.

In addition, members of the armed forces charged with DWI face suspension of both civilian and government driving privileges if their BAC is more than 0.05%.

Military personnel face additional punishment if the DWI charge resulted in injury or, worse, death. In addition, the Army will discharge you if you receive two DWI convictions over the course of your career or are involved in two alcohol-related misconduct incidences in a 12-month period.

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3. Reputational Loss

It takes several years to build a solid reputation in the military, but a DWI conviction could shatter it within a matter of seconds. Military personnel who commit petty crimes are often ostracized by their peers because they bring disgrace upon their unit and the base. Offenders struggle to earn the same respect from their seniors, course mates, and even juniors who looked up to them at some point.

4. Build a Strong Defense

If you serve in the military in Texas and are arrested for DWI, you need to save your career by building a strong, aggressive defense. Attorney JL Carpenter can help protect your rights and freedom. She has extensive experience in handling DWI cases for clients who serve in the armed forces.

As an experienced criminal defense attorney in the Greater Houston area, JL fights rigorously for her clients. Take a close look at her case results, and once you’re ready, schedule a consultation.

JL represents clients in Houston, Clear Lake, Friendswood, Webster, and the surrounding neighborhoods. Her practice areas include DWI, boating while intoxicated, domestic violence, family violence, and drug possession, among others.