Can You Join The Navy With a DUI?

Alcohol – Behind The Wheel

Adjudicated definition – “The completion of a legal process by which an arbiter or judge reviews evidence and argumentation including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants to come to a decision which determines rights and obligations between the parties involved.” For the purposes of enlistment, if your charges are disposed with ANY condition, it will be considered a guilty finding and will be subject to, if otherwise qualified/required, a waiver by the proper approval authority. Example – a prosecutor tells you your charges will be dropped if you write a “letter of apology,” the condition requirement of having to write the letter is considered an adverse adjudication.

Behind the Wheel (BTW) definition – Alcohol and/or drug incidents while you were BTW of a motorized vehicle such as driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), operating under influence of alcohol (OUIL), driving while alcohol impaired (DWAI), etc. There are even circumstances where being adjudicated for “open container” could be considered a BTW offense. Example – you are under the legal drinking age, you are pulled over and found to have a trace of alcohol, not even close to enough to be guilty of DWI, you could be considered to have a BTW for enlistment purposes.

With the definitions out of the way, here is the meat: If you have a BTW conviction, you must wait a mandatory period of one year from date of original offense (the day you were given a ticket or arrested) before you can be gained as an accession onto active duty or affiliated into the Navy Reserve. The waiting period of one year is NOT waiverable.

Any more than two BTW adjudications (a single BTW is a CO NRD waiver; two BTWs require a waiver from the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command) and you are not eligible for enlistment into the United States Navy, there are no waivers authorized. I suggest to you; if you have more than two that you seek help if you haven’t already. There is no excuse for getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after you have been drinking; you’re putting your life and the lives of others at risk.

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244 Responses to “Alcohol – Behind The Wheel”

  1. Chad says:

    I don’t know if I still fully understand the technical details or not. The prosecution dropped the charges against me before it went before a judge/trial? Is that the same as the case being dismissed or is that ‘charges being dropped? And the part that was expunged was my arrest record

  2. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If the charges were dropped after you had to complete a requirement of the court, then you are guilty of the charge when it comes to waivers. “Pre-trial intervention” is common, and more times than not results in a plea deal of some sort. The court record needs to be reviewed and a determination made; however, an expungement is something that is used for those that were adversely adjudicated of a crime (usually first time offenders) to otherwise hide the proceedings of the case (even though a record of the actual arrest will always be available) — an expungement is not done for charges that are unconditionally dropped; as a matter of fact, if a person was falsely arrested, you would want the entire record to show that for all to see.

  3. Chad says:

    I did not have to complete any requirement to the court as far as I’m aware of- no apology letter, no probation, plea deal, etc. I need to research this further and possibly talk to my attorney who handled my case to see where this falls under

  4. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Just have the recruiter get the court documents — they have to be read anyway.

  5. Chad says:

    Will do, thank you so much for the advice thus far!

  6. Chad says:

    Hi sir, sorry to be a complete pest but I went over to my attorney’s office and spoke with the clerk there to try and get more info. She said that since the case had been expunged there was no way she could see the info for my case. My question is: will a recruiter be able to access my case details from the court and take a look at them even though they’ve been expunged or would I have to go through the process of getting them unexpunged just to show the recruiter and then have them re-expunged? Thanks

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Well, that definitively answers the question of whether or not the case was dropped unconditionally. Because the case was actually expunged, it has in fact been adversely adjudicated, and that is the way it would proceed. You will do a handwritten statement for the recruiter that cover all of the details including the arrest itself and all pertaining events. The recruiter will run an independent local police/court record check, and it is common that the local checks will reveal nothing, or just a log of the arrest with no disposition, during his/her check — again, that is just a cursory check. The detailed background check completed by the agency (not the MEPS, they only do the originating paperwork — fingerprints, etc. — that goes to them to initiate the check) will reveal more information.

    From the Navy’s instruction concerning expungement:

    Expungement. Some states have established procedures for the subsequent “expunging of the record”, “dismissal of charges”, or “pardon” upon evidence of rehabilitation of the offender. Such action has the legal effect of extinguishing the initial “conviction” or “adverse juvenile adjudication” so that, under state law, the applicant has no record of conviction or adverse juvenile adjudication. In spite of this action, the record must be revealed and a waiver of the applicant’s disqualification(s) is required at the proper enlistment decision level.

  8. Chad says:

    So I would have been better off by not having the case expunged from my record?

  9. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I have never heard of a case being expunged before that was dropped; it just isn’t done. So, I guess if it was dropped without condition, license suspension, whatever, then yes, I guess you would have been better off not paying to have a non-event otherwise hidden.

  10. Chad says:

    Morning sir,
    Knowing my situation, what would you say my chances are of obtaining a waiver and being selected in the Draft for an SO rating? Slim to nome even if I crush my PST and ASVAB? Don’t know whether to pursue this further if there’s no possible way for me to get in because I don’t have all the time in the world-about to turn 25, did the whole college thing, graduated with a degree in finance, etc

  11. NCCM(Ret) says:


    A waiver is possible. I suggest you stay with it until you are either selected or become ineligible to apply.

  12. Chad says:

    So it may take 3 years for a waiver to be granted?

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I have no idea whether or not you will ever be selected, but I do know that if you stop trying, it won’t happen.

  14. RJP says:

    I was arrested for a DUI back in 2005, but the charge was later dismissed/Dropped in court. Would that affect the chances of joining any branch of the military?

  15. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The fact that it was later dropped because you completed requirements of the court is irrelevant. You require an enlistment waiver for the BTW offense.

  16. Zane says:

    i want to join the military but i have 2 DUI’s ( 2004, 2005). Since then I have changed my lifestyle and earned a BA degree. Can I join any branch I choose?

  17. NCCM(Ret) says:


    It is possible with the appropriate waiver.

  18. Jasmine says:

    35 yrs old female. 5’5 and 160 lbs. with two DUI(s. One in 2000 and one in 2011. No other convictions. Am I eligible for a waiver?

  19. NCCM(Ret) says:


    For active duty Navy, you have passed the maximum age. Must join before your 35th birthday.

  20. Neal says:

    I am currently in the Army Reserves considering the Navy as an Avenue for Active Duty.
    I have recently came off IRR , I was in the Guard and got out and Now I am Army Reserves.
    On IRR I was convicted of a DUI the only thing on my record since then and the only thing ever. that was September 2012. The Reserves have no intellection of this as my career counselor stated if not asked don’t tell. I had a RE-3 code on my last dd 214 from the guard . I was waivered into the Army Reserves and I believe since then this infraction has disappeared of my record “not 100% on this”
    My question is does this DUI keep me from getting into the NAVY on a Conditional Release form.
    Im not a bad soldier, A lot of recommendations from my previous commanders and chain of command. I wrote an essay explaining why I want to serve again. They said “they as in my current unit ” gave me a second chance and welcomed me with open army, Good group of troops.
    I am just curious if this will affect me. Drinking and driving is so un excusable . I was 7 days older than 21 . I straightened up and haven’t touched a drop. Any advice would be great thanks.

    - CPL “I did not loose rank”

  21. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Whether or not a charge is listed in your personnel record is irrelevant. All charges that you have had since birth must be listed in your application. The DUI (I assume it is the only charge you have had in your life) must receive waiver consideration — there is no way around that. Take your discharge paperwork from the Guard and all other DD-214 paperwork you have to the recruiter; he/she can review it and they can have you fill out the police record check forms so they can review your court records, etc. and he/she can then tell you what your chances are. Your status as either prior service or non-prior service will matter, too (that is why you need to bring all the paperwork you have showing how much active duty time you have).

    Whether or not the reserve will sign the conditional release form is strictly up to them, but you must have it in order to start processing for the Navy (or any service).

  22. Michael says:

    My name is Mike, I recieved a DUI in a June, I am 20 years old and am currently in my Junior year of college. Since then I have really straighten my act up and have gotten involved at my school though community service projects and becoming close with my faith. Ive always wanted to join the military and plan on joining after graduation in may of 2015, are my chances good moving forward getting into the military?

  23. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Once the one year mandatory period passes from your date of arrest, and as long as all of the court’s requirements are completed/paid, and as long as you are otherwise fully qualified, then a waiver is possible.

  24. Timothy says:

    Hi Sir,

    My story is similar to that of Chad’s on the previous page. I was arrested for a DWI charge in the state of Texas three years ago. The case was unconditionally dismissed-no probation, loss of license, hand-written letter, absolutely nothing at all. I later had the arrest expunged from my record. I saw you write back to Chad that an expungement is in fact adverse adjudication but in the state of Texas you can have an arrest expunged if:

    You may be entitled to an expunction if your case was dismissed, if it was no-billed by a grand jury, if you were acquitted at trial (i.e., found “not guilty”), if someone else was arrested using your name without your permission, or if you were convicted but later pardoned.


    Expunction is an option for deferred adjudication only in Class C misdemeanor cases. If you were sentenced to deferred adjudication probation for a Class A or B misdemeanor or any level of felony, you are not eligible for an expunction. However, you may still qualify for an Order of Non-Disclosure, which seals your arrest record from access by the general public.

    “Texas expungement law allows expungement of arrests which did not lead to a finding of guilt, and class C misdemeanors if the defendant received deferred adjudication, and completed community supervision”

    It seems as if there are two different classes of expungement in Texas. (I’m not sure how it is in other states)

    One is if your case is unconditionally dismissed (which mine was) and the other is if there is deferred adjudication involved. I looked at the Navy Eligibility requirements where it states:

    “Some states have established procedures for the subsequent “expunging of the record,” “dismissal of charges,” or “pardon” upon evidence of rehabilitation of the offender. Such action has the legal effect of extinguishing the initial “conviction” or “adverse juvenile adjudication” so that, under state law, the applicant has no record of conviction or adverse juvenile adjudication. In spite of this action, the record must be revealed and a waiver of the applicant’s disqualification(s) is required at the proper enlistment decision level”

    The “conviction” they define as:
    “As a general rule of thumb, any requirements imposed by judicial authorities will be viewed as a
    conviction for enlistment purposes. Pretrial intervention or diversionary programs will be considered a “conviction”. Similarly, requirements imposed by law
    enforcement officials, (i.e., police, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, or state troopers), will be
    viewed as a non-judicial administrative action”

    There were no requirements imposed onto me at all nor did I enter into any pretrial intervention or diversionary programs

    It also states:
    “The key question is, “Was there involvement by judicial authorities?”

    My answer to that is no

    It seems there is a discrepancy from state-to-state about what qualifies for an expunction and how they are defined and carried out. My question to you is: will I still need a moral waiver even though my case was unconditionally dismissed and I received no adverse adjudication. I recall you telling Chad that

    “based on how you describe it, you were in fact adversely adjudicated — you cannot have an unconditionally dropped charge expunged because it just doesn’t work that way.”

    It seems as though in my state that it is possible to have a charge unconditionally dropped and later have an expungement

    Please advise, thank you very much!

  25. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I roger up to everything you wrote, but the fact is COMNAVCRUITCOMINST 1130.8J – VOLUME II, Chapter 2, Section 8, PG. 2, paragraph d. states:

    Expungement. Some states have established procedures for the subsequent “expunging of the record”, “dismissal of charges”, or “pardon” upon evidence of rehabilitation of the offender. Such action has the legal effect of extinguishing the initial “conviction” or “adverse juvenile adjudication” so that, under state law, the applicant has no record of conviction or adverse juvenile adjudication. In spite of this action, the record must be revealed and a waiver of the applicant’s disqualification(s) is required at the proper enlistment decision level.

    When enlisting, you will provide your court records, and if required, the accompanying police arrest records, along with your handwritten statement for the event in question. If the court and police records indicate you have zero involvement, then a waiver may not be required.

  26. Timothy says:

    Thank you very much for the prompt response, sir. My only question is what do you mean by zero involvement? Just show proof that there was no adverse adjudication involved and the case was unconditionally dismissed? Thank you for your time

  27. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If the records show you were not drinking and driving, then you shouldn’t have a problem. The recruiter will have to go get the documents — if they are sealed, then you may have to go with him to ensure he gets them. Remember, per the enlistment manual, with an expungement, you would require a waiver for the charge — to ensure you are not considered adversely adjudicated, the full record would need to be reviewed to ensure the record was not dismissed/dropped/whatever due to a requirement of the court being met — they were dropped because you were not drinking and driving (above the legal limit or underage with any alcohol); a letter from the court stating the charge was expunged won’t accomplish that.

  28. Timothy says:

    I believe the case disposition states: Dismissed-could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt

    On the same page it says something to the effect of “Action taken: None”

    If the case was dropped unconditionally like I believe it was and there was no adverse adjudication handed down to me would I still need the waiver because of the expunction or would the recruiter in my area, who knows the state laws concerning expunctions following unconditional dismissals, make the determination if a waiver is required or not?

  29. NCCM(Ret) says:


    No recruiter determines whether a waiver is required or not; ultimately, the interpretation of the recruiting manual determines whether or not a charge must be waived. The recruiter would forward the documentation to the processor at MEPS, and if they don’t know how to proceed, they would forward it to the Navy Recruiting Command’s legal department. This article may not directly pertain to you, but it might be good information nonetheless –> Myths.

    Adding, to be more clear; the recruiter can determine whether someone is eligible for a waiver, but is not the ultimate authority who determines whether something needs to be waived.

  30. Son dui accident says:

    My son has a dui accident, is it possible for him to apply for a wavier if it is a felony charge?

  31. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Son dui accident,

    As long as all of the requirements of time passage stated above has been met and all of the requirements of the court are completed, then a waiver is possible; however, in today’s recruiting environment, obtaining permission to process with a Major Misconduct Offense is not very likely. If otherwise qualified, I recommend he seek out a recruiter because the recruiter will be able to tell him when/if he can move forward.

  32. 4 dui charges says:

    If you have 4 dui`s can you still join the military?

  33. NCCM(Ret) says:

    4 DUI Charges,

    As it states in the post, any more than two renders the applicant ineligible — no waivers authorized.

  34. Ryan says:

    Sir I have 2 dui convictions and thats all I have on my record how many years after the second conviction must I wait to enlist and what waivers would be required also what is the cut off age for the us navy im 25 years of age and have been training physically and mentally for the military for the last nine months.

  35. Mathematician says:

    Hello Sir,
    I recently graduated with a Bachelors degree in Mathematics. I received a DUI and paid all my fines and expenses. My probation was terminated early; due to the fact, that I convinced the judge to terminate my probation early in order for me to join the armed forces. Problem is it states in my closed case that “Probation was terminated due to attempt to join armed forces/military.” My plan is to go to OCS to try to become an officer; am I automatically incapable of joining straight to OCS because my probation was terminated due to joining the armed forces?

  36. NCCM(Ret) says:


    One year, however, because you have two, you require a waiver at the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command level, and waivers that require that level of consideration are currently very difficult to come by.

  37. NCCM(Ret) says:


    It is not necessarily the automatic disqualification that it used to be; now, you cannot process until the original full term of probation would have terminated, and for a BTW offense, the mandatory one year from date of arrest must also pass.

  38. jwunder91 says:

    Will one DWI (.09 BAC) from when I was 19 (I just turned 23) stop me from joining the Navy? More importantly, I currently work In the field of IT (industry certified CCNA, MCSA). I make pretty decent money but I have a passion to serve my country. I would want to work in Information Technology while in the navy but as I read it requires TS/SCI. The only thing I’ve ever plead or been found guilty of was DWI. I have a few speeding tickets. One contributing to delinquency of a minor (she was my GF, she was 16, I was barely 18 and we had been dating since I was 17) she snuck out to see me.. her parents were crazy and lied to officer and the charges were 100% dismissed in 30 seconds of the parents speaking.

  39. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The DUI (Behind the Wheel Offense) will make it difficult, but not impossible. The totality of your record and self will be considered when determining your security clearance.

  40. jwunder91 says:

    I know what you mean, the totality of a person. I’ve made a few bad choices over the span of one year 18-19. However have been living life without error since. Literally, I would prefer to give up my current job and comfort of my own place by a lake to serve the navy, on a ship, for 36 months lol. However, I don’t want to enlist to get denied working in networking, cyber security to only end up mopping the poop deck for a lack of a better term.

  41. RNmom says:

    In December 2013, I was arrested and charged with Negligent Driving in the state of Washington. I am currently an RN and want to go into the Navy Reserves as a nurse. Would I have to wait 1 year from my arrest date (for the Neg Driving charge), and would this require a waiver? Thanks!

  42. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Yes to the one year if the charge involved alcohol or drugs, and yes, it requires a waiver. With an alcohol or drug abuse charge, it would be unlikely that you would gain a commission into the Navy’s medical field, but do seek out a recruiter to make sure.

  43. Erica says:

    I was just convicted of a wet reckless on May 13,2014. Do I still have a chance to join the Navy? If I’m reading correct I have to wait 1 year to apply or to ask for a waiver? Please let me know if you don’t mind. I really want to join the Navy!
    Thank you

  44. NCCM(Ret) says:


    A waiver is possible once one year passes from the date of the arrest.

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