Drunk and disorderly charges or DUI charges can devastate anyone’s life. If convicted, these charges have large fines and possible jail sentences attached. You may be required to perform community service and attach an ignition interlock device to your car. But, those penalties are only satisfying civilian protocol. Military members have much more at risk especially if found guilty.
There was a case in Pensacola, FL about 10 years ago where naval officer Capt. Jeffrey Linscott, who was second in command at the NATTC, was charged for a DUI after failing a roadside sobriety test. He was a decorated officer who, at the time, had served for 23 years. Suddenly, he found his career was on the line. Access to the actual court proceedings is not available.
It is known, though, that he retired from the Navy a year later and made a public appearance in Athens, Ohio for a riveting speech on Veteran’s Day 2012. In Capt. Linscott’s case, he was still able to maintain his rank and respect. However, all military are not that lucky.
A DUI conviction will change your life and can destroy your military career. What is even worse about this type of scenario is that these charges are often wrong.
The Problems with DUI Arrests
Over the last year there have been several cases brought to state supreme courts about the validity of Breathalyzer testing. The most prominent of these cases is the one that took place in Pennsylvania. Evidence was presented to the court that shows over 40 percent of all Breathalyzer tests have incorrect readings.
These incorrect readings were leading to extensive arrests for people who were clearly innocent. The court found in favor of the defendant and requested that all law enforcement agencies within the state stop using Breathalyzers as a mode for testing for intoxication.
This case discovered that:
• Over 40 percent of the Breathalyzer tests that were given had a false positive result.
• That 60 percent of the police officers giving the test did not follow proper procedures.
• That chain-of-command is often broken in the testing cycle, making any test inadmissible as evidence.
• That dental work, especially if it is recent, can increase a reading on a Breathalyzer test.
In a similar case, the court found in favor of the defendant when it was discovered by expert testimony that anyone suffering with Acid Reflux Disease will test higher on a Breathalyzer than someone who does not have this disorder. In fact, it was discovered that many people who have acid reflux can test positive on a Breathalyzer test, even if they have not consumed any alcohol.
If You Are Arrested For DUI
If you have been arrested for DUI, you will still need to report the incident to your commanding officer. However, it is generally the rule of all branches of the military to overlook this arrest unless there is a conviction. Of course, this is not a guarantee but it is how it normally works out.
After you have informed your CO, you need to contact a DUI defense attorney. A DUI lawyer can work aggressively on your behalf to have the charges reduced or dropped, protecting your military career. While it is possible to represent yourself in this type of matter, it will be more beneficial to have someone who is knowledgeable about all of these recent cases to defend you before the judge.
Military members serve their country without hesitation. They work hard and risk their lives on a daily basis. They are the true American heroes. These heroes do not deserve to have their military careers tarnished or ended due to an inaccurate Breathalyzer test or a case of acid reflux disease – they deserve much better than that.
Finding proper defense can be a challenge. However, Domonique Powell has witnessed how effective strong representation can be during a case that involved her husband, and urges other to support the heroes in their life.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/8683135541/