If you’re looking to enlist in the military or join the armed forces as an officer, there are some things you should know about reckless driving and how it may impact your future serving our great nation. The last thing you want after months of preparing your application and getting your life ready for the next step is to be told you cannot join the military because of poor moral character. Since reckless driving is a criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia, this won’t just show up as a traffic violation if you’re convicted – it will show up on your permanent criminal record.
Reckless Driving and the Military: Seeking to Enlist?
Air Force: If you’re looking to join the Air Force, the Air Force Recruiting Service lists reckless driving as a Category 4 moral offense. A conviction for a Category 4 offense along with five Category 5 offenses within a 365-day period disqualifies you for the Air Force. Category 5 offenses include failing to display an inspection sticker, failure to signal, seatbelt violation, license plates improperly displayed, or leaving the key in the ignition. You are also disqualified if you have two or more Category 4 offenses within the last three years. Category 4 offenses include not just reckless driving but also curfew violation, disorderly conduct, bar fights, unlawful possession of alcohol or tobacco, and violation of fireworks laws. It is possible to get a disqualification waived but it requires approval by a recruiting squadron commander.
Navy and Marine Corps: The Marines view reckless driving as a serious offense regardless of whether it’s charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor reckless driving convictions can be waived at the district level, but felony reckless driving convictions are unlikely to be waived unless a regional headquarters office grants it. This typically only occurs when recruiting rates are lower than anticipated. Two or more serious offense convictions require a waiver, and serious offenses include DUI, failure to stop after an accident, failure to pay child support, adultery, and joyriding. Another thing to know is that you can be required to obtain a waiver for moral disqualification even if you haven’t been convicted. If you volunteer the information or if a recruiter finds out that you have been arrested or charged with reckless driving, this can require a waiver. Providing false information or withholding is a federal offense, and if charged you face federal, civilian, or military court.
Army: Applicants seeking to enlist in the U.S. Army will need to obtain a waiver for two or more misdemeanor charges, with reckless driving falling under this category. Waivers are not authorized for people with four or more misdemeanor convictions. Vehicular homicide is considered a serious offense by the U.S. Army and will require a waiver no matter what.
Currently in the Military?
If you are currently an active member of the U.S. military and you’ve been charged by civilian law enforcement for reckless driving, you will likely need to report this to your command. You may face additional penalties that are specific to the branch you serve.