I am a soldier currently stationed on Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I have been in the army for a little over a year with no disciplinary problems. This weekend I received a DWI in the town outside of base. I was at a bar with some members of my company and made the stupid decision to attempt to drive home. I was pulled over in the city of Fayteville. Upon getting pulled over the officer asked me a few questions such as where i came from and where i was going. Due to my speech and the smell of alcohol she pulled me out of the car and arrested me on the spot without a field sobriety test or breathalyzer. She let my other two intoxicated friends in the car go. Upon getting to the station i was given a breathalyzer, i blew a .16 i was then instructed i had to blow again. on my second attempt the blowing did not register and the officer instructed me that if i blew a false reading again he would put me down as a refusal. I than proceeded to blow another false blowing and the officer put me down as a test refusal. I was booked and then turned over to the MP's. I have a court date in april. I was then informered by my chain of command that I will receive a field grade article fifteen and due to a new no tolerance policy an administrative seperation. My question being, is there such a thing as double jeapordy in this type of situation? Will my unit have to wait till after my civilian court date to start my punishment? Is there anyway to push up my civilian court date? Is it worth hiring a lawyer to defend me in the civilian court or is the refusal reading an automatic plea of guilty?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Military punishment in addition to civilian is not double jeapordy. However, you should consult with an experienced DWI attorney immeaditely and by immediately I mean this coming Tuesday or sooner if you can find an attorney's office that is open - it is most definately worth it. Most DWI cases are complex and the possible punishments are sever enough that even if you plan to plead guilty, it is still a good idea to have an attorney represent you to at least make sure you receive the minimun / appropriate punishment level. Some aspects of a DWI case are time sensitive for example, if done timely you can request a hearing regarding the refusal (because your description sounds like there may be some room to find that you did not willfully refuse). Also, a refusal is not an automatic finding of guilty - the constitution of the United States, which you have pledged to defend, grants you a right to due proess (a trial). Also, depending on the particular circumstances of your case, an experienced DWI attorney can advise you regarding resolving your case prior to the April court date (generally this will be a bad idea). If there is anything that can be done from a legal stand point that would help you avoid a conviction of DWI, your command may have a second thought about the administrative separation. Of course a lot of that rests on how good a soldier you are. If your command is itching to get you out, even being found not guilty in a civilian court may not help.
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