If you have been convicted of DWI in New York, you might be wondering how your conviction will affect you if you want to enlist in the military. If you have a DWI conviction you should be aware that the military has increased the number of waivers granted to recruits who otherwise would not have met weight, medical or moral requirements for military service. In the past several years, the number of convicted offenders who enlisted in the U.S. military almost doubled, and more than 125,000 people with criminal records have joined the military.
The power to prescribe the requisite qualifications for enlisting in the military rests with the Secretary of Defense, who establishes physical, mental, moral, professional, and age requirements for enlistment. Under 10 U.S.C. Section 504, those with felony convictions, including DWI felonies, are generally prohibited from entering the military. This disqualification is based on moral character and usually applies to those individuals with significant criminal records.
However, the Secretary of Defense is authorized to make exceptions in meritorious cases. These exceptions are known as “moral waivers.” The military’s ban on ex-offenders is part of a large legal and policy framework that particularly discourages criminal behavior among service members. The purpose of the military’s moral character requirements is to screen out individuals who are likely to become disciplinary cases or security risks or who disrupt good order, morale, and discipline. At the beginning of the recruitment process, an applicant is asked to disclose all arrests or convictions regardless of when the incident occurred and, in the case of arrests, regardless of whether the applicant was found guilty. Once it is found that a waiver is needed for someone’s military enlistment process to go forward, Department of Defense policy requires collection of all possible information about the offense at issue, as well as letters of recommendation from responsible community leaders in order to consider granting the waiver.
Waiver of Moral Conduct
A waiver of moral conduct is required for any military applicant who has received a conviction for a serious criminal offense. All branches of the military employ the waiver system, though what offenses require waiver and how frequently waivers are granted varies between the branches. Moral waivers allow the military to admit those with criminal histories – from traffic violations to felony convictions- and overcome prior criminal misconduct. In considering whether to admit someone, such as a DWI offender, into the military, officials give consideration to the circumstances surrounding the criminal offense, the age of the offender, and personal interviews with the applicant and others, as well as the applicant’s other aptitudes, experiences, and characteristics. The Department of Defense uses a common set of waiver codes where they classify offenses as felonies (e.g., kidnapping, murder), serious misdemeanors (e.g., assault, petty larceny), minor misdemeanors (e.g., discharging a firearm within city limits, removing public property), minor non-traffic offenses (e.g., disorderly conduct, vandalism), serious traffic offenses (e.g., driving with a revoked license), and minor traffic offenses (e.g., speeding).
The severity of the criminal offense is the most important factor determining whether a waiver request will be granted.
The following is a list of the types of waivers granted by each branch of the military:
Army (Felony) 1 waiver, (Serious Misdemeanor) 2 waivers; no waiver allowed for 5 or more such offenses, (Minor Misdemeanor) *Army does not use this category, (Minor Non-Traffic) 3 or more waivers allowed; 3 convictions for a combination of misdemeanors and minor non-traffic offenses, (Serious Traffic) *Army does not use this category, (Minor Traffic); 6 or more waivers granted for offenses with fines exceeded 100 per offense.
Navy (Felony) 1 or more waivers granted, (Serious Misdemeanor) 1 or 2; no waiver allowed for 3 or more such offenses, (Minor Misdemeanor) 3 to 5; no waiver allowed for 6 or more such offenses, (Minor Non-Traffic) 3 to 5; no waiver allowed for 6 or more such offenses, (Serious Traffic) *Navy does not use this category, (Minor Traffic) Within three years prior to enlistment, 6 or more in any twelve-month period or 10 or more in total.
Marines (Felony) 1; no waiver allowed for more than 1 such offense, (Serious Misdemeanor) 1 to 5; no waiver allowed for 6 or more offenses, (Minor Misdemeanor) *Marines does not use this category, (Minor Non-Traffic) 2 to 9; no waiver allowed for 10 or more, (Serious Traffic) 2 or more; no waiver for 6 or more, (Minor Traffic) 5 or more.
Air Force (Felony) 1 0r more offenses, (Serious Misdemeanor) 1 or more offenses, (Minor Misdemeanor) 1 or more offenses, (minor Non-Traffic) Depending on seriousness of offense: 1 or more; 2 in the last three years; or 3 or more in a lifetime, (Serious Traffic) *Air Force does not use this category, (Minor Traffic) Depending on seriousness of offense: 2 in last three years, or 3 or more in a lifetime; 6 or more minor traffic or five minor traffic and one minor non-traffic offenses in any one-year period within the last three years.
The attorneys at the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are experienced in handling DWI cases. If you need a Rochester DWI lawyer who can help you obtain the best possible outcome in your DWI case, call the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys.
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