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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

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The real cost of DUI

By Sgt. Valerie C. Eppler | | September 8, 2014


Monday morning.

Marines stand in formation and collectively sigh as they hear about one of their own who did not heed the warnings. Who failed to properly plan. Who took an unnecessary risk and drove while under the influence.  That Marine made a decision that changed the way he or she is viewed by his or her peers, leadership, family and friends.

Before Marines secure on liberty, leave or holiday time off, almost without fail they are told by their senior leadership, “Do not drink and drive. Always have a plan, and a backup plan.”  It is a speech practically memorized by Marines of all ranks due to its frequent use.  

If a person does not heed the warning of their friends, or military leadership, or even the law, the best thing that can happen for that person who chooses to drink and drive is that they are stopped by a police officer.  The alternative can result in death to themselves or others.

On base citations - PMO

There are numerous vehicular violations that may lead a military police officer to stop a person while driving on base. If a person is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol they will be given a standardized field sobriety test.  If that officer believes the person is under the influence, they will next have them blow into the blood alcohol content tester.

If the BAC is .08 or greater for a person over the age of 21, then he will be taken into custody, given a citation and then released to his command, said Gunnery Sgt. Joseph McManus, assistant operations chief for the Camp Pendleton Police Department.  

Hopefully that person has some good friends and compassionate leadership, because he or she is going to be asking for a lot of rides to and from work. A person will automatically lose their on-base driving privileges for 12 months if cited for a DUI, said McManus.

For a person is under the age of 21, if the BAC is .01 or greater the same consequences apply. To put in laymen’s terms, if you are under age and drink anything with any alcohol in it and get stopped, if you register as anything other than 0.0 on the BAC tester you will be cited with underage drinking. 

The Command

Ultimately, the punishment for someone who receives a DUI on base is up to the discretion of that person’s unit commanding officer.  At a minimum, the person will receive non-judicial punishment, according to Lt. Col. Phillip D. Sanchez, staff judge advocate for Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. 

The consequences vary depending on the rank of the person sent to NJP. The two most common forms of punishment resulting from an NJP are forfeiture of pay and reduction in grade, said  Sanchez.  Additional punitive actions up to and including administrative separation may also be assigned at the unit commander’s discretion.

If a Marine shows a previous pattern of misconduct within the same enlistment, the punishment will likely be more severe.  Instead of going to NJP, that Marine would more likely go to a special court martial where they could face the most severe punishment of a bad-conduct discharge if found guilty said Sanchez.

The person who gets the DUI is not the only one affected.  In fact, almost everyone that person knows is affected in one way or another.  Disappointment, anger and mistrust are just a few feelings that affect the friends, family and coworkers of someone who makes the poor decision to drink, then drive.

Speaking of the families, consider that his or her family may be just getting by with their current paycheck.  Now subtract a rank or half months pay for several months. The chances of promotion and retention have also significantly dropped. The families become victims as quickly as say a victim who gets hit by a drunk driver, just in a different way.  These families may have to explain to their landlords why they cannot pay rent, or the utility companies why they can’t pay their bills.  Don’t forget about that new car that he or she might still be paying on that got crashed due to driving drunk.

Those are real costs of DUI.

The base regulations can be found in MCIWEST-MCB CAMPEN ORDER 5000.2 change 1. Violations of the base regulations will be treated with the same disciplinary actions as violations of UCMJ article 111 – drunken or reckless driving.

The tangible cost of a DUI can cost thousands of dollars and gaining a criminal record.  The intangible cost among others is the loss of respect of those around you and reduced chance for career advancement.

As many leaders say, it’s just not worth it.