Punitive Articles of the UCMJ

Article 111 UCM; Drunken or reckless operation of vehicle, aircraft, or vessel

fighter pilot
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Note: The requirements of this offense were changed by President George Bush, by Executive Order 12473, on October 14, 2005. Specifically, the blood-alcohol limits were changed from 0.10 to the levels shown in subsection b, below.

Text.

“Any person subject to this chapter who—

(1) operates or physically controls any vehicle, aircraft, or vessel in a reckless or wanton manner or while impaired by a substance described in section 912a(b) of this title ( Article 112a(b)), or

(2) operates or is in actual physical control of any vehicle, aircraft, or vessel while drunk or when the alcohol concentration in the person's blood or breath is equal to or exceeds the level prohibited under subsection (b), as shown by chemical analysis, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Subsection b

(1) For purposes of subsection (a), the applicable level of the alcohol concentration in a person's blood or breath is as follows:

(A) In the case of the operation or control of a vehicle, aircraft, or vessel in the United States, the level is the blood alcohol concentration prohibited under the law of the State in which the conduct occurred, except as may be provided under paragraph (b)(2) for conduct on a military installation that is in more than one State, or the prohibited alcohol concentration level specified in paragraph (b)(3).

(B) In the case of the operation or control of a vehicle, aircraft, or vessel outside the United States, the level is the blood alcohol concentration specified in paragraph (b)(3) or such lower level as the Secretary of Defense may by regulation prescribe.

    (2) In the case of a military installation that is in more than one State, if those States have different levels for defining their prohibited blood alcohol concentrations under their respective State laws, the Secretary concerned for the installation may select one such level to apply uniformly on that installation.

    (3) For purposes of paragraph (b)(1), the level of alcohol concentration prohibited in a person's blood is 0.10 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood and with respect to alcohol concentration in a person's breath is 0.10 grams or more of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, as shown by chemical analysis."

    (4) In this subsection, the term "United States" includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, and the term "State" includes each of those jurisdictions."

    Elements

    (1) That the accused was operating or in physical control of a vehicle, aircraft, or vessel; and

    (2) That while operating or in physical control of a vehicle, aircraft, or vessel, the accused:

    (a) did so in a wanton or reckless manner, or

    (b) was drunk or impaired, or

    (c) the alcohol concentration level in the accused's blood or breath, as shown by chemical analysis, was equal to or exceeded the applicable level provided in subsection b above.

      (3) That the accused thereby caused the vehicle, aircraft, or vessel to injure a person.

      Explanation

      (1) Vehicle. See - 1 U.S.C. § 4.

      (2) Vessel. See- 1 U.S.C. § 3.

      (3) Aircraft. Any contrivance used or designed for transportation in the air.

      (4) Operates. Operating a vehicle, aircraft, or vessel includes not only driving or guiding a vehicle, aircraft or vessel while it is in motion, either in person or through the agency of another, but also setting of its motive power in action or the manipulation of its controls so as to cause the particular vehicle, aircraft or vessel to move.

      (5) Physical control and actual physical control. These terms as used in the statute are synonymous. They describe the present capability and power to dominate, direct or regulate the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft, either in person or through the agency of another, regardless of whether such vehicle, aircraft, or vessel is operated. For example, the intoxicated person seated behind the steering wheel of a vehicle with the keys of the vehicle in or near the ignition but with the engine not turned on could be deemed in actual physical control of that vehicle.

      However, the person asleep in the back seat with the keys in his or her pocket would not be deemed in actual physical control. Physical control necessarily encompasses operation.

      (6) Drunk or impaired. “Drunk” and “impaired” mean any intoxication which is sufficient to impair the rational and full exercise of the mental or physical faculties. The term drunk is used in relation to intoxication by alcohol. The term impaired is used in relation to intoxication by a substance described in - Article 112(a), Uniform Code of Military Justice.

      (7) Reckless. The operation or physical control of a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft is “reckless” when it exhibits a culpable disregard of foreseeable consequences to others from the act or omission involved. Recklessness is not determined solely by reason of the happening of an injury, or the invasion of the rights of another, nor by proof alone of excessive speed or erratic operation, but all these factors may be admissible and relevant as bearing upon the ultimate question: whether, under all the circumstances, the accused’s manner of operation or physical control of the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft was of that heedless nature which made it actually or imminently dangerous to the occupants, or to the rights or safety of others. It is operating or physically controlling a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft with such a high degree of negligence that if death were caused, the accused would have committed involuntary manslaughter, at least. The nature of the conditions in which the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft is operated or controlled, the time of day or night, the proximity and number of other vehicles, vessels, or aircraft and the condition of the vehicle, vessel, or aircraft, are often matters of importance in the proof of an offense charged under this article and, where they are of importance, may properly be alleged.

      (8) Wanton. “Wanton” includes “reckless”, but in describing the operation or physical control of a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft “wanton” may, in a proper case, connote willfulness, or a disregard of probable consequences, and thus describe a more aggravated offense.

      (9) Causation. The accused’s drunken or reckless driving must be a proximate cause of injury for the accused to be guilty of drunken or reckless driving resulting in personal injury. To be proximate, the accused’s actions need not be the sole cause of the injury, nor must they be the immediate cause of the injury, that is, the latest in time and space preceding the injury. A contributing cause is deemed proximate only if it plays a material role in the victim’s injury.

      (10) Separate offenses. While the same course of conduct may constitute violations of both subsections (1) and (2) of the Article, e.g., both drunken and reckless operation or physical control, this article proscribes the conduct described in both subsections as separate offenses, which may be charged separately. However, as recklessness is a relative matter, evidence of all the surrounding circumstances that made the operation dangerous, whether alleged or not, may be admissible. Thus, on a charge of reckless driving, for example, evidence of drunkenness might be admissible as establishing one aspect of the recklessness, and evidence that the vehicle exceeded a safe speed, at a relevant prior point and time, might be admissible as corroborating other evidence of the specific recklessness charged. Similarly, on a charge of drunken driving, relevant evidence of recklessness might have probative value as corroborating other proof of drunkenness.

      Lesser included offense

      (1) Reckless or wanton or impaired operation or physical control of a vessel. Article 110—improper hazarding of a vessel.

      (2) Drunken operation of a vehicle, vessel, or aircraft while drunk or with a blood or breath alcohol concentration in violation of the described per se standard.

      (a) Article 110—improper hazarding of a vessel

      (b) Article 112—drunk on duty

      (c) Article 134—drunk on station

        Maximum punishment

        (1) Resulting in personal injury. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 18 months.

        (2) No personal injury involved. Bad-conduct discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months.

        Above Information from Manual for Court Martial, 2002, Chapter 4, Paragraph 35

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