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Can You Join The Navy With a DUI?

Alcohol – Behind The Wheel

Published: September 5th, 2008
Updated: June 16, 2014
By: Thomas Goering

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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291 Responses to “Alcohol – Behind The Wheel”


  1. sam:

    how many minor in posession of alcohol will disqualify you from joining the service

  2. NCCM(ret):

    Sam,

    Two would be disqualifying, but you could receive a waiver for up to three.

  3. Bobby:

    I got a DUI last year and the one year mark will be this December; Is there anyway I can go to a recruiter NOW and get a head start on my enlistment to be accepted at the one year mark or should I not even try until the full year is up?

  4. NCCM(ret):

    Bobby,

    The recruiter won’t be able to process you until you are eligible, but yes, you can go and get some of the forms and start filling them out – start gathering all the documentation you would need – ask questions – etc. Also, as I wrote a couple of days ago, Navy Recruiting will be closed from 17 Dec 2011 through 3 Jan. 2012 for holiday break.

  5. Shane:

    I was told today the policy on DUIs has changed and that they will no longer be waivers for them regardless of the whole person concept. Is there any truth to this, because just two months ago it was still a waiverable offense. My recruiters are upset about the change in policy.
    Especially in my case because I had to wait for my divorce to finalize and in that time the policy changed. I only have one from 2002 and nothing else on my record.

  6. NCCM(ret):

    Shane,

    Locally, it could very well be the policy – each commanding officer has it within the prevue to adapt tougher standards than that of the national guidance. I have not heard of a national policy to restrict a single DUI.

  7. Bobby:

    Thanks for the info but forget the DUI for a second, I was talking to a family friend the other day and telling him my decision to join the navy and he said regardless of my DUI or anything that it was terribly hard to join any branch of the military right now. I was curious if you knew anything about this? I know since the recession they have made and or exceeded recruiting requirements but he was saying even the most perfect individual had a slim chance. Any knowledge on this? Should I just blow them away with a genius ASVAB score, or just talk to a local recruiter to figure it out and cut any BS out of what anyone has to say?

  8. NCCM(ret):

    Bobby,

    I recently wrote an article after talking directly with Navy Recruiting Command that discussed the current successes of recruiting and how it has affected qualification policies set by the national headquarters and even further by local commands. The Navy is still recruiting, but they, like all services during this economic downturn, can be very selective.

  9. Shane:

    Thank you NCCM, its kind of what I figured was likely happening. I talked to a few recruiters out of my area and they haven’t heard of the change either. I’m a fighter so I will stick it out and follow the “hurry up and wait” SOP since my packet has already been in for a month & Marine recruiters and they have expressed their eagerness to have me join their branch. They want to send me for ASVAB testing and physical asap, its not my first choice but serving in some aspect is better than not. In the meantime I will continue to take CLEP tests to bring my credits up to 48cdts minimum.
    Thanks for all the info you provide to all of us, it is appreciated.
    V/R,
    Shane

  10. Matt:

    Now,I have a DUI and I know its a one year waiting period and i understand that, but before the DUI i was arrested for a Minor in possession charge, I got it annulled off my record so is that going to effect me at all?

  11. NCCM(ret):

    Matt,

    The minor in possession charge will be a consideration during the waiver for a DUI.

  12. Chelsey:

    I was arrested for a DUI under age. But never convicted I took classes to get everything off my record, was told as of oct 15th I will have a clean record again. do I still need a waiver?

  13. NCCM(ret):

    Chelsey,

    No matter what the courts do, you will always have a DUI in your history, and that DUI will require a waiver for enlistment.

  14. Heather:

    I got a DWI and a ticket for reckless operation in AUG 2011. I had just turned in my security clearance packet to my recruiter the day before the wreck and had an appointment to go to MEPS in New Orleans the following week to take the ASVAB, so needless to say, I screwed up big time! I’ve been through pre-trail and now waiting for the initial trail date in May. If I go ahead and plea out and request Article 894, the DA in my parish said he could possibly work something out with me and have the DWI expunged within 3 months, only having to complete 6 months of probation. Do I still have to wait a year from conviction date if it’s expunged? Or can I go ahead and enlist after probation is complete?

  15. NCCM(ret):

    Heather,

    The mandatory wait of one year starts the day you’re arrested, not the day you go to court.

  16. Zach:

    Sorry if I am being thick, but if I have one DUI over a year ago does that require a waiver as well, or just after the second?

  17. NCCM(ret):

    Zack,

    A single DUI requires a waiver.

  18. Wil:

    Will two DUI’s disqualify someone from enlisting into the Navy?

  19. NCCM(ret):

    Wil,

    Two DUIs require a waiver by the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command; however, currently, there is a moratorium on the processing of waivers that require that level of waiver consideration.

  20. Wil:

    What exactly does that mean?

  21. NCCM(ret):

    Wil,

    It means that by instruction, you are eligible for waiver consideration, but because recruiting is doing so well because of the services draw down and the retention experienced because of the state of the economy, the processing of such waivers are on an indefinite hold.

  22. Wil:

    Is there anything I could possibly do to help my situation in the event the hold is lifted?

  23. NCCM(ret):

    Wil,

    Stay out of trouble, and continue to live life in an honorable way.

  24. vick4navy:

    hi sir,i ve gotten 2 dui s.the second one was in july of 2009.thats that disqualify me from enlisting?because i ve been wanting to enlist but wanted to clear everything up first.do you think i will be considered?thank you

  25. NCCM(ret):

    Vick,

    Having two DUIs would require a waiver by the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command; currently, such waivers are not being considered.

  26. vick4navy:

    Thank you for your prompt reply sir.any idea when such waivers will be considered?if not,this will be a very huge setback for me because I was planning to go see a recruiter on monday but thought doing some research will help.

  27. NCCM(ret):

    Vick,

    My guess would be in maybe two to three years before they may consider those waivers again, but I do suggest that you go see your recruiter and introduce yourself – he should be able to give you a much better idea, and you would then be in his records for when/if it does open back up.

  28. Jorge:

    I have one DUI and was wondering if the DUI would prevent me from enlisting as a navy diver since I read navy divers require a secret security clearance.

  29. NCCM(ret):

    Jorge,

    Having a single DUI, as long as you are an otherwise exceptional candidate, could receive waiver consideration for the Navy Diver rating.

  30. Jorge:

    Great thanks! I have taken the asvab before on short notice and scored an 85
    Besides the DUI I have never been in any kind of trouble.

  31. Krystal:

    I am 32 year old woman and I have one DUI. I was was actually done with all my paper work and had taken the ASVAB already when I got into trouble back in Oct 2010. Is is too late to join the navy? Is my age and DUI going to count against me?

  32. NCCM(ret):

    Krystal,

    Your age won’t matter as long as you are in boot-camp before your 35th birthday. Your DUI would require a waiver.

  33. michael:

    Hello my name is Michael, back in 2009 I was found guilty for a DWAI when I took a plea bargain in Colorado. After clearing that situation, Later I was charged with a DUI in 2011 and found not guilty here in Maryland. I recently have sent out 2 waivers and my recruiter told me things are looking good so far. I was wondering what you thought my eligibility looks like, I have no other charges and uderstand my faults. Any insight on my situation would be appeciated.

  34. NCCM(ret):

    Michael,

    Was the Maryland DUI dropped outright, or was it reduced to a lessor crime? If it was dropped outright, then you only require the waiver for the DWAI (I am assuming alcohol) – if it was not outright dropped, and was reduced to a lessor crime, then you would still require a waiver for it as if it were a DUI, which would require you to be considered by the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, and currently, waivers of that approval level are not being considered.

    So, if your recruiter is continuing your processing, and you have a date scheduled for MEPS, I assume the charge was outright dropped, without conditions, and you would be considered for the single DWAI. Good luck!

  35. michael:

    As far as I know The second DUI was completely dropped in court, All of the offences listed on the courts final decision document were put as NOT GUILTY. However my recruiter still made me File 2 waivers with detail about the first DWAI, and THE second DUI that I was found not guilty for. Will the second incident be overlooked taking into consideration the final determination was not guilty?

  36. NCCM(ret):

    Michael,

    Courts put all kinds of things as dispositions, not guilty usually means, not guilty, but if you had to write a letter of apology, attend a class, pay a fine, spend the night in jail, anything – then the charge is considered to have an adverse adjudication and would require waiver consideration. It all depends on the details of the court’s record, to include the reason for the final disposition.

    Again, if you were found not guilty, without conditions, for the second DUI, then it should not be considered as an offense when determining who the waiver authority is.

  37. michael:

    Thanks for your reply’s, you diffinetly cleared up allot for me, considering the fact that after final disposition the court gave me no extra conditions I believe my questions have been answered thanks again for the help.

  38. Steve:

    I have a DUI about 2 years ago. I wasn’t charged, paid everything. When i go to the recruiter, do i have to sign a waiver still?

  39. NCCM(ret):

    Steve,

    If you paid a fine, you were adversely adjudicated. Yes, you will require a waiver.

  40. Steve:

    Hello my name is Steve, I’m 21 and looking to join the navy. Around 2009 I got a infraction ticket for open container and in 2010 got a DUI. I didn’t have to take classes or spend anytime in jail. I basically paid my fine and was done with it. its been almost 2 years since my DUI, can i still join the navy? would i need a waiver? I learned my lesson and trying to turn my life around. Thank You

  41. Steve:

    Sorry about the repost, the comments were not showing for some reason until after the repost. Thank You for the reply. With the waiver I have to wait a year to enlist? Sorry I’m just confused. And how are my chances with the DUI on getting in. Thanks again in advance.

  42. NCCM(ret):

    Steve,

    You have to wait a year from the date of the DUI arrest, which you have done. (if the open container is considered a BTW – the recruiter can tell you for sure once he reads the documents – then you may not be processed because that level of waiver is not being processed).

    So many things are considered during the waiver process beyond just the charge(s) like ASVAB, education, work history, and more. Call your recruiter.

  43. Steve:

    What if i was a passenger in the car. Not the one behind the wheel? does that still count against me?

  44. NCCM(ret):

    Steve,

    If you were not the one behind the wheel, then you won’t require a waiver for behind the wheel…

  45. Jim:

    Hello, My name is Jim and I am 24 years old, and up until last week I was looking to talk to a recruiter for joining the navy sometime this winter. I did something stupid though, and ended up with a DWI. I know I will have to wait 1 year from the time of the arrest, my question is.

    Here is NJ, a DWI/DUI is not a criminal offense, it is a traffic violation. Actually its one of only 2 states that a DUI is not considered a criminal misdemeanor. That means I will have no criminal record “if” convicted, just a black mark on my driving record. Will the navy consider this a “traffic violation” or a “misconduct”?

    Also the DWI came with a reckless driving ticket, I received a reckless driving ticket also in 2007, and a careless in 2006. Those 2 were just for speeding though. So according to this chart I could end up with 4 total misconducts, even though they were just 2 speeding tickets, and a combo DWI/reckless. The whole thing is confusing, do I have any chance of getting a waiver in the future?

  46. NCCM(ret):

    Jim,

    The DWI will fall under the BTW rules and for waiver consideration be classified as a Misconduct Offense.

    The Reckless driving tickets will have to be looked at, if the fine imposed was over $300, figure it as a Misconduct Offense – same thig with the Careless Driving. If you end up with 3 or more Misconduct Offenses, you must be considered by the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command for a waiver – currently, moral/civil waivers that require that level of consideration are not being forwarded.

  47. Jim:

    Ok so I know that the one careless, and the one reckless did not exceed 300 dollars, one was 85 and other was 200. So that leaves me with 2 misconduct offenses, Where would I stand then.

  48. NCCM(ret):

    Jim,

    If you have two Misconduct Offenses, the local Commanding Officer (CO) is the waiver authority – you would not require the waiver by the Commander, NRC. It would be up to the local CO to allow your processing when eligible.

  49. Jim:

    Thank you for your quick responses, if all goes well I might just have 1 misconduct and a couple traffic violations, from what I read so far I wouldn’t need a CNRC waiver like you said. Coupled with my all the other things taken into consideration for a waiver, I’m sure I’ll do just fine.

  50. Anthony:

    Hello, my name is Anthony and I am interested in joining the Navy. I am graduating from a private university this May with a bachelors degree. I was charged with Driving with Ability Impaired by Drugs (heroin) this past December. I got into an accident and the drugs were found on my passenger seat. I submitted to a blood test and my levels contained only trace amounts of morphine, less than 1/10 of 1%. I am afraid to go to trial because I was told by another attorney that with drugs, the DA only has to prove you had any drug in your system for it to be a DWAI. I have an offer that if I plead guilty to the DWAI (the misdemeanor not the traffic infraction DWAI) all the other charges would be dropped (reckless driving, misdemeanor heroin possession) and my legal aid says I may not get probation either if I continue in treatment for a few months. Right now, I am going to see if I can plead guilty to the Reckless driving charge instead because I was not actually intoxicated I had used the day before more than 16 hours before my accident. I had just feel asleep. Sorry about details

    Basically, if I am convicted of the DWI, do I have the same rights as someone convicted of a DWI from alcohol? Also, does having a college degree an a high GPA (3.7) give me a significant advantage?

  51. NCCM(ret):

    Anthony,

    For waiver purposes, you would have the DWAI and possession of a controlled substance (heroin), and unless they are dropped without conditions (you proved in court you were innocent or the courts dropped the charges because you were innocent), you will require a waiver – but, because the possession charge is considered a Major Misconduct Offense, you would not be processed or considered because of the moratorium on such waivers.

  52. Mitch:

    Hello. Two and half years ago I was charged with a DUI. I was under age and had an incredibly low BAC (.01), and my charges were reduced. I also have minor infractions on my juvenile record, all of which were received at my high school. Pretty ridiculous charges, like littering. No misdemeanors or felonies. I applied for the Navy about 6 months ago and my waivers were not cleared, or even considered. I passed my physical at MEPS, and scored a 95 on my ASVAB. Since I have had no run ins with the law for nearly 3 years, will I have a legitimate shot at a waiver? Will persistence regarding my attempts to join help my case? I am going to try again, I would just like to know if it is even worth my time.

  53. NCCM(ret):

    Mitch,

    All the “ridiculous” charges matter. If you were allowed to go to MEPS to process, then either you were considered for a waiver or once you got there it was determined you had too many charges (perhaps ones that were not initially divulged?) If all of your charges do not add up to be more than what could be considered, then someday, you would have a shot. The waiver matrix

  54. JSilvestre:

    I was charged with a Wet and Reckless DUI back in July of 2009. All fines are paid for and all classes are finished. Will I be able to enlist or will I have no chance of joining because of this offense?

  55. NCCM(Ret):

    J Silvestre,

    If you are otherwise fully qualified, it is possible to receive waiver consideration for a single BTW.

  56. Chelsea:

    Hello,

    I was convicted of a dui on january 23rd 2011, it has been a year that I was arrested and convicted. As of right now I am still in the process of paying off my fines and will have my driving privilages restored august 2012, once they are paid and I have my license back I’d like to enlist in the navy but I wanted to make sure I have all my ducks in a row before I go and see a recruiter.

    Thanks you for the help!

  57. Drew:

    Hi, I went into my NAVY recruiter’s office last week. I have a 4 year old DUI on my record. I have finished all classes, etc. I also have one minor under influence.

    The recruiter has not called me back. How long does it usually take?

  58. NCCM(Ret):

    Drew,

    Each area can be different; call him and ask, he should give you some idea and not leave you hanging.

  59. Mars:

    I have 3 dui arrest one was acquited, the second was dismiss with terms and the third i was convicted of.. This have been 4 years ago. That second Dui dipostion is sealed although im sure it can be obtain by the military. Since then I have been straight i have attended AA classes .. i enrolled in college and has recieve my degree and have also gain several certifications in my area of study. Do you think i have a shot at the navy or any other branch of service?

  60. NCCM(Ret):

    Mars,

    Two DUI would require a waiver by Navy Recruiting Command – such waivers are not currently being considered. When the time comes that those types of waivers can be forwarded again, all three charge’s court documents will need to be submitted for review – if the third DUI was not dropped out-right (reduced to a lessor offense, etc.), then it will count as a third BTW offense and you would not be eligible for a waiver.

  61. Mars:

    Ok thnx NCCM..

    In my state they are thinking about passing a bill that will take DUI’s off your record once it 5 years old. If they do pass it and take it off do you think it might leave a paper trail forA the military to find? Also since my second DUI have no dipostion on it because it been sealed do you think if i can go back and have it show as a clean dismisal, would i be okay to join then?? I would apperciate any input thank you.

  62. NCCM(Ret):

    Mars,

    Once a city, county, or state enters a charge into the database, it will always exist and always show. The state may seal a record, expunge a charge, or whatever, but the fact is, it will always show in the database used for security clearances; always.

  63. Mars:

    Yes NCCM i agree and i already know that the DUI’ s will always exist in some form on my background. What i am saying is the dipostion on that second DUI is sealed it wont show up period on my back ground on the city or state level. It shows the DUI but its shows no outcome its like its floating out there with no verdict. So i was asking if they could release or make a dipostion stating it was a cleared dismissal would it be okay? I ask because even when i do go to court house and ask for my record that second DUI has no outcome no verdict it shows the DUI but no outcome..

    Thank you NCCM for any information

  64. theo:

    I have read the provided charts regarding how the navy views charges and i believe i understand, but would like to clarify, i committed a dui in 2011, it was a single transgression but i received two charges for the dui, one for operation of vehicle while intoxicated and the second for being over the legal limit. From what i read this would be considered a single dui? Thank you in advance for the reply as well as the site and and wealth of information.

  65. NCCM(Ret):

    Theo,

    Correct, you have two charges but only one of which is a BTW (DUI) – if you were 21 or over, then more than likely both charges will be grouped into a single transgression; if you were not of legal drinking age, then the being over the legal limit would more than likely remain a second charge (but still only a single BTW) when compared against the matrix (charts on the moral waiver page).

  66. Russell:

    I’m interested in obtaining a commission as an officer, either through direct comission (I am a licenced medical professional) or through ocs. I received a dui in 2008. Various speeding tickets throughout my life, only arrest ever. Are waivers for this offense available for officer candiates?

  67. NCCM(Ret):

    Russell,

    The waiver matrix is the same for both officer and enlisted applicants; it is possible to get a commission with a previous a DUI, but you may have a hard time entering into medical unless you have a specialty in high demand.

    I highly recommend that you seek out the medical programs officer recruiter in your area.

  68. Mom:

    Hi there,
    My son is considering the Navy but had a DWI over a year ago. He has mandatory classes to complete but is very interested in enlisting. He got a GED but is very smart and technical. I think he would do well in the testing. He also has diagnosed anxiety and depression. Would the last item rule him out? Is this the case for all branches of service?

    Thank you.

  69. NCCM(Ret):

    Mom,

    If his depression/anxiety issues were within the past 3 years, he would not receive consideration. Currently, those with a Tier II education, like a GED, are not receiving consideration especially if they have a criminal record no matter how they may test.

  70. jon:

    What is the chance of a waiver being issued at this time for a juvi possession charge which was adjudicatied and a 1st offence dui that was deferred

  71. NCCM(Ret):

    Jon,

    I am assuming the possession charge is marijuana. The age at which time an offense occurred is irrelevant.

    To answer your question; in the current recruiting environment, not that likely, but I do recommend that you make contact with a recruiter.

  72. Jordan:

    Hi Master Chief,

    I am prior service(QM3) and was arrested for DUI on the 9th. I understand the 1 year wait for possible eligibility. However, after that 1 year is up and all fines,etc. are taken care of would I still be eligible for re-entry? Would I even be looked at for a second for a DUI waiver when I am prior navy and should know better than to commit ridiculous crimes?

  73. NCCM(Ret):

    Jordan,

    In the current recruiting environment, Prior Service applicants are having a difficult time getting back in because of the limited billets available. Having an arrest of any kind after your discharge makes consideration near impossible. I do suggest, when the time has passed and you have completed all the court ordered requirements, that you seek out your local Reserve recruiter. I don’t have a high expectation that affiliation will be possible at that time, but make them tell you, “no.”

  74. David:

    I have two DUI’s on my record. One from 1999 and one in 2008. Can I still join the Navy Reserves?

  75. NCCM(Ret):

    David,

    Currently, there is a moratorium on moral waivers that need approval at the Commander, Navy Recruiting Command level – having two DUIs requires a waiver at that level. I highly recommend that you contact your local recruiter, and introduce yourself because he/she will be the first to know when the moratorium will be lifted so those could be processed again.

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