You may be allowed to join the military after a DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction. Whether you are accepted depends on the strength of the rest of your qualifications and the severity and frequency of your misconduct (i.e., whether you have multiple offenses on your record). You may be able to obtain a waiver, depending on the offense.
Since 2008, the Department of Defense (DOD) has set the standards for how all branches of the military treat conduct waivers for previous arrests and convictions. In the case of DWI, the DOD classifies it as a “misconduct offense.”
Understanding Waivers for Misconduct Offenses
The best thing you can do if you want to join the military but have a DWI on your record is to have a frank discussion about your history with a recruiter. Under the Department of Defense rules, a single DWI conviction may be overlooked based on your recruiting officer’s eligibility determination.
Your criminal record is just one factor considered for your eligibility. Some of the other things the recruiter will consider include:
- Your level of education obtained
- Your Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score
- References from employers, community leaders, and the judge in your case
- Community activities and involvement
To enlist with two or more DWIs — or other misconduct offenses — on your record, you will require a conduct waiver to enlist. These are difficult but not impossible to obtain, and your first step will be talking to a recruiter.
They will issue waivers for up to four other misconduct offenses as long as there are not five or more. However, it is not likely that most branches will accept you with multiple convictions. Once accepted on a waiver, you will then need to meet all the remaining standards and eligibility qualifications for your job.
It is important to note that, while all branches of the Armed Services use the same rules for issuing waivers, some use them much more frequently than others. In August 2018, the Associated Press reported the Army was much more likely to give a recruit a conduct waiver than any other military branch.
What It Takes to Enlist With a DWI on Your Record
Before any recruiter will consider allowing you to join the military, you must complete your sentence including your driver’s license suspension, paying all fines and fees, and serving probation. Still, this does not guarantee they will approve you for enlistment.
Another important thought about making the cut after one DWI is that the recruiting officer will likely consider how you handled yourself throughout the criminal justice process. They will look at the circumstances of your arrest and whether you took responsibility for your actions.
If you were respectful during court proceedings and took care of your court-ordered obligations in a diligent manner, you may be more likely to get approval than someone who did not seem ready to take responsibility for their mistake.
Avoiding a Conviction Is the Best Option
If possible, the best way to ensure your enlistment goes smoothly is to avoid having a misconduct offense on your record. If you can fight the drunk driving charges and avoid a DWI conviction, it will make the military recruitment process go more smoothly. It may even make it possible to join the branch of your choice instead of considering who will most likely accept you.
At Eddington Worley, our Texas DWI attorneys will help you develop a strong defense strategy and fight the charges. Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to:
- Convince the District Attorney not to file charges
- Negotiate a plea bargain for lesser charges and penalties (e.g., negotiate down to a reckless driving charge)
- Present a strong case for acquittal in court
- Negotiate a sentence you can stipulations you can complete faster, so you can attempt to enlist sooner
Talk to a Texas DWI Defense Lawyer About Your Case Today
If you or a loved one has been arrested or is facing drunk driving charges in Texas and worry about how this may affect enlisting in the military, reach out to the drunk driving defense attorneys from Eddington Worley today. We can offer advice and support and build the strong defense you need to get a more favorable outcome in your case.
A member of our team is standing by to take your call. We want to protect your future and right to defend our country. Call our office today at 855-600-6695 to get started on your DWI defense.