UCMJ Article 112: Drunk on Duty

Any service member of the United States Armed forces who are found drunk while performing a duty other than acting as lookout or sentinel will be accused of drunkenness on duty under Article 112 of the UCMJ. What may look like a harmless crime on the surface has been known to destroy military careers or at the very least halt the rise of a promising service member. Before you consider pleading guilty or hiring an inexperienced defense attorney, consider this:

  • You could be sentenced to prison for almost a year. For something as simple as getting drunk the night before and performing your duties while still slightly under the influence the next day.
  • You may be forced out of the military with a punitive discharge. You’ll be forced to hide your military history from future employers and acquaintances.
  • Your retirement and healthcare, all of your benefits and all of your pay, will be taken from you. Years of service to your country will be for nothing.

What Is Article 112 of the UCMJ?

Alcohol bottles with american soldier drinking in the backgroundEvery U.C.M.J. punitive article requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a handful of critical assumptions—known as elements—to convict you of a crime. Two such elements must be proven for a service member to be convicted under Article 112 of the UCMJ.

  1. That the accused was on a certain duty; and
  2. That the accused was found drunk while on this duty

Summary of the Elements of Article 112: Prosecutors will attempt to prove that you were in the middle of executing your military duties when you were found drinking or already drunk. Article 112 applies to all military duties with the exception of lookout or sentinel, in which case a service member is tried under Article 113 of the UCMJ.

Subsections of Article 112

Military Defense Attorney for Article 112

On the face of it, such a case looks like a slam dunk for government prosecutors. This couldn’t be further from the truth. An experienced court-martial lawyer can catch the prosecution’s star witness in a lie, attack the government’s forensic evidence by securing expert testimony and undermine the prosecution’s narrative. Your circumstances will play an important role in establishing the strategies and tactics for your case.

We’ll start by asking a few critical questions concerning the events leading up to the alleged offense:

  • When were you found drunk? Was it before you began your duties? Was it after you were relieved? Were you told by a commanding officer that you were on liberty? If you did not enter upon the duty due to your drunkenness, you cannot be found guilty under Article 112. Similarly, a simple miscommunication related to when your duties began and when they ended could have led to an instance where you assumed you were off duty but were not.
  • How did you become intoxicated in the first place? Was it from an accidental overdosage administered for medicinal purposes? Did your superior officer know you were drunk at the time the duty was assigned, and you performed said duty anyway? Both are reasonable defenses under Article 112.
  • What evidence does the government have against you? If they have witness testimony, are there other witnesses that noticed anything strange about your behavior? Having just one or two witnesses vouch for your regular behavior at the time you were accused of drunkenness could be enough to shed doubt on the prosecution’s case.

Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Drunk on Duty Charges

We have been successfully defending members of the armed forces from charges under the UCMJ.  No matter how great the odds or how grim the evidence is against you, we have the experience and the resources needed to secure the best possible outcome in your case.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Article 112: Drunk On Duty

What Is the Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 112?

Should you be found drunk while on duty, your maximum punishment under Article 112 will include:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 9 months
  • Bad-conduct discharge

Can I Drink the Night Before and Be Found Guilty of Drunkenness the Next Day?

Yes. Prosecutors do not need to prove you became drunk while on duty. Drinking prior to going on duty, or drinking the night before even, may be enough for prosecutors to convict you under Article 112.

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