UCMJ Article 111: Drunken or Reckless Operation of Vehicle, Aircraft or Vessel

A service member of the United States Armed Forces who is found to have recklessly or drunkenly operated or controlled a vehicle, vessel or aircraft may be charged under Article 111 of the UCMJ. Guilty verdicts under Article 111 have a tendency to end military careers if the service member does not take proper precautions. For example:

  • You may be facing felony charges in state court PLUS a court-martial in the military. That could mean twice the punishment and twice the consequences.
  • Your military career could come to an immediate end if you’re found guilty. Your years of service will mean nothing to government prosecutors.
  • Your retirement and healthcare benefits will be taken without a thought to the well-being of you or your family.

Do not gamble your future away with an inexperienced attorney. Fight for that future with the aggressive, experienced legal representation of Bilecki Law Group.

Article 111 Elements

Every article of the UCMJ 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 (with a third added under special circumstances) must be proven for prosecutors to convict a service member of reckless or drunken operation of a vehicle under Article 111 of the UCMJ.

The elements of Article 111 include:
  • That the accused was operating or in physical control of a vehicle, aircraft, or vessel; and
  • That while operating or in physical control of a vehicle, aircraft, or vessel, the accused:
    • Did so in a wanton or reckless manner,
    • Was drunk or impaired, or
    • The alcohol concentration in the accused’s blood or breath equaled or exceeded the applicable limit under subparagraph (b) of paragraph 35a

Should the servicemember injure another person while operating the vehicle, a third element will be added:

  • That the accused thereby caused the vehicle, aircraft, or vessel to injure a person
Summary of the Elements of Article 111: Prosecutors will attempt to prove that a) you were in control of the vehicle, and b) your actions, under the circumstances, were reckless and endangered your life and the lives of others. Of note, prosecutors do not have to prove that you were drunk or impaired to convict you under Article 111. They simply must prove you acted recklessly while in control of the vehicle, aircraft or vessel.

Military Defense Attorney for Article 111 of the UCMJ: Strategies and Tactics

Prosecutors may claim that witnesses are ready to take the stand against you, or evidence through a blood test or breathalyzer proves you were drunk or impaired.

They will not, however, tell you that your case can be won, even if the odds are stacked impossibly high against you.
Bilecki Law Group has fought—and won—these types of cases, and we can fight for you as well. The first step is to consider a number of critical questions regarding your case:
Military jeep
  • Were you on a base, in a foreign country or within the United States? If so, which state? Your location may dictate how aggressively the military charges you, or whether or not you meet the state’s definition of drunken or reckless driving to begin with.
  • Were you pulled over by law enforcement? During the operation of the vehicle, aircraft or vessel, did someone accuse you of drunkenness? Were you truly acting recklessly at the time you gave up control of the vehicle, aircraft or vessel? Were tests completed by law enforcement at the scene? Were there others with you at the time of the alleged reckless driving? We’ll consider the actions of law enforcement, the testimony of firsthand witnesses, and your actions prior to your being relieved of the operation of the vehicle. Any one of these may provide a clue to your innocence in court.
  • What are other circumstances being considered by the prosecution? Have they claimed you acted wantonly or willfully? Did any injuries or damages occur due to the alleged reckless operation? Were you only a danger to yourself, or other military personnel? Many factors may play a role in your ultimate sentencing. Addressing these factors straight out the gate could reduce your final sentencing or secure an acquittal outright.

You’ve worked hard to earn your standing in the military. Do not let one mistake destroy everything you’ve built. Fight back by calling Bilecki Law Group today.

Experienced Military Defense Lawyers for Article 111 Charges

beige military truckmilitary defense attorney experienced in DUI type charges may be your last best hope to save your military career or avoid felony charges. Bilecki Law Group has served countless service members accused of similar offenses and we have the experience and skill to secure the best possible outcome in your case. 

Bilecki Law Group will help you fight back against charges under Article 111: Drunken or Reckless Operation of Vehicle, Aircraft, or Vessel

Maximum Possible Punishment for Article 111

The maximum possible sentence under Article 111 depends on whether or not an injury occurred while the service member was operating the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft. The crime resulted in a personal injury:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 18 months
  • Dishonorable discharge

The crime did not result in a personal injury:

  • Reduction to E-1
  • Forfeiture of all pay and allowances
  • Confinement for 6 months
  • Bad conduct discharge

The Military’s Blood Alcohol Content Limit for Operating a Vehicle, Vessel, or Aircraft

According to the Manual for Court Martial, the blood alcohol content limit for service members who are charged outside the U.S. with respect to alcohol concentration in a person’s blood is 0.10 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or 0.10 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, as shown by chemical analysis. 

Should a service member accused of drunken operation of a vehicle stateside, the laws of a particular state will be taken into account.

Related Articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice

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