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Can You Join The Navy With a DUI?

Alcohol – Behind The Wheel

Updated: June 18, 2017

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 if you are also considered to be under the influence. 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 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.

407 Responses to “Alcohol – Behind The Wheel”

  1. Sailer Bob says:

    Submit all paperwork to your recruiter for a waiver. Ensure all probation, fines are paid for as well. Be prepared to write a lengthy, neat, convincing written statement to your recruiting district commander. Oh and stop effing up.

  2. Joseph [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    I was recently convicted of a DWAI or in other cases BTW. The only question I wanted to ask was if I am still able to sign up and try to become a Navy seal? I understand to join the Navy I must complete the courts requirements that they put upon me. I just want to know if its still possible for me to become a Navy Seal and what else I have to do?

  3. Doc says:

    Hi, I had a DUI in November 2016; can it be waived for a commission in MSC-IPP or does the 1 year time period still apply? There was no NJP/Mast.

  4. NCCM(Ret) says:


    A program waiver for a single Behind the Wheel offense is possible for the Special Warfare Operator rating. Once your court requirements are completed, contact your local Navy recruiter.

  5. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The one year waiting period applies to those entering the military via a recruiting command; I do not know if it applies to those applying to a program while on active duty. However, you may want to look up the MILPERSMAN reference; I seem to recall that civilian criminal adverse adjudications meet the same restrictions/spirit as Mast would — that would be a question for a Fleet NC; I was of the CRF variety.

  6. itdoc says:

    I have 2 DUIs from 2000/2001 at a time of break in service. I currently have secret Clearance in the Navy. Would I be able to obtain a TS/SCI? I have read that over 10 years old they will not count as a serious offense as if they were within 10 years. When I obtained my Secret I put the info on my SF-86 and was contacted by an SS agent to sign some paperwork but still received it.

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The BTW rules in the article are for enlistment purposes. How prior offenses are considered by security managers when determining whether eligible for a certain clearance is a separate process altogether.

  8. Alan says:

    Hello, I am currently 28, 55 OAR score, 3.5+gpa in college; but…I had a DUI in 2010 and was arrested again in 2012 for allegedly selling alcohol to a minor and then resisting arrest without violence (because I was unaware why I was being arrested). Again all foolish mistakes on my behalf but I was guilty of the DUI, and the other charges were dropped in the 2012 incidence since I didn’t do it but I did have to write an apology letter which I am now realizing is damaging my chances of joining as an officer. Any advice or input on the situation? I appreciate your time and for all the information you have posted. PS – would I still be eligible for enlisting if I cannot direct commission?

  9. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Best advice is to be completely honest and open about the mistakes. Be able to articulate what you have learned. If not accepted to an officer program, yes, you could seek enlistment.

  10. Brian says:

    Hello, I’m currently 21 years old. This past St. Patty’s day I was driving home after drinking and got pulled over for speeding 20mph over the limit. When the officer pulled me over he smelled my breath, long story short I blew a .09 and got a DWI (BTW conviction). I have yet to go to court so there is still a small chance I could get the charges dropped. I know that either way I have to wait a minimum of 1yr and complete all my court stuff. But my question is that am I eligible for joining as a Corpsman, either as enlisted or officer? I also need a waiver for ADHD medication I took when I was younger (stopped taking it in 2011)

  11. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Any adversely adjudicated alcohol related offense renders you ineligible for the HM rating — no program waivers are authorized.

  12. Brian says:


    I would appreciate your advice/opinion. I am former enlisted (HM3). After i got out in 2001, I started going to school for my degree/s. I Got a DUI in 2005, which I was about to pay to have expunged, if necessary? I have nothing else since, not even a parking ticket (ok, maybe one). I recently completed my PhD and am in the process (next 12/18 months) of submitting a direct commission packet for the Navy. Any advice? is this even a possibility? Thanks! B.

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Having a charged expunged would change nothing, so save your money.

    Whether or not a waiver would be considered would depend on many factors life which designator you are applying to, etc. For that information, you need to sit down and talk to a recruiter.

  14. Brian says:

    Thank you, i appreciate the help!


  15. JESSE [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    I just got my third OVI in January 2017, and I am looking to better myself by joining the Navy. Is that still possible?

    Age 30

  16. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Waivers for more than two drug or alcohol related driving offenses are not authorized.

  17. Julius says:

    If I am being charged with a DUI, and plead guilty to a drunk in public misdemeanor, will I be ineligible for OCS and BUDS?

  18. NCCM(Ret) says:


    A waiver is possible for both programs. You require the same waiver for the drunk in public as you would had the charge remained a DUI, and the minimum one year from date of arrest is also mandatory. All alcohol related offenses are actually referred to as a BTW offense as it states in the article.

  19. Jonathan says:

    I have always dreamed of being an aviator in the Navy, however in 2010 when I was 17 I received a shoplifting charge which was deferred (I know the Navy will see this). Then in 2012 I received a minor DUI (under .08 was pulled over for the light around license plate, then officer smelled alcohol I only had 2 beers in me from an hour before). Then I received an MIP for alcohol in 2013. I have been clear of everything since, and only gotten a ticket for not having a drivers license on my person last year, and have a bachelor of finance with 3.0 gpa. Is being an aviator possible with this history?

  20. Jonathan says:

    Also probably doesnt matter but the minor dui became a negligent driving

  21. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Waivers are possible, but officer programs are very competitive. I recommend seeking out an officer recruiter so that he or she can better access your circumstance.

    The reduction of a DUI to a lesser crime will still be treated as a BTW offense for waiver purposes.

  22. Joseph [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    I was recently convicted of a DWAI or in other cases BTW. I have also had a speeding ticket that was dropped down to a defected tail light. As well as received a speeding ticket by going five over the speed Limit. The only question I wanted to ask was if I am still able to sign up and try to become a Navy seal?

  23. NCCM(Ret) says:


    It is possible to enlist into the Special Warfare Operator rating (SEAL) with a single BTW offense.

  24. Ted says:

    A good friend of mine signed his contract and swore into the DEP only to get a DUI a few weeks later. His recruiter told him he needed to get his legal issues resolved ASAP and to keep his mouth shut about the DUI and ship when he was told to. He took a plea deal to get unsupervised probation and had his last court date. He’s now gone off to bootcamp six months after the arrest. What are the chances he could be discharged while being processed for security clearance?

  25. NCCM(Ret) says:


    During his background check, his arrest will come to light; it is very likely that he will be discharged due to his fraudulent enlistment — especially if in a Navy job that requires any sort of clearance.

  26. Ted says:

    Thank you for your insight. I was quite surprised that he was allowed to ship in the first place. Perhaps because he had already passed the initial background check at MEPS when entering the DEP. Is it possible for there to have be an exception to the 12-month waiting period since he had already processed and signed a contract?

  27. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The one year from the date of incident waiting period is not waiverable — no matter what.

  28. joe says:

    I have a DWI conviction, which occurred when I was 18 or 19, I’m 27 right now and work full time, soon to have my BSc in Information Security… would I be able to get into OCS / have a chance of being selected / commissioned? I have 6 years of civilian experience and 1 year of fed contractor work with a passion to serve. Please let me know if its possible, or if I should just continue down the beaten path. Thanks.

  29. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Yes, a waiver is possible. I recommend that you contact your local Navy officer recruiter and inquire about the cyber warfare engineer and similar designators.

  30. Sylvester says:

    I have two DUIs from 2012—and then went to rehab. I know have a MA in Mental Health counseling, focusing on drug/alcohol addiction (my current field). Would I have a shot at waivers for these offenses, do you think? If so, it sounds as if I would not be able to work in my field. Is that correct?
    Many thanks for your reply.

  31. NCCM(Ret) says:


    A waiver for officer programs would be unlikely, and difficult for enlisted programs. You would not be able to work in the medical field.

  32. Sylvester says:

    Thank you for the reply. I assumed the DUIs would be prohibitive. Not the drinking and rehab as it’s almost impossible to get a job in my field—recovery—without lived experience. Addiction counselors are usually former addicts.

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