How to Join the Marines With a DWI

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You're at least 17 years old but not yet 30, a high school graduate (or working toward it) and you're sure you can handle whatever the boot camp drill instructors throw at you. You've got everything you need to become a United States Marine. You've also got one thing nobody needs: a conviction for driving while intoxicated. Have you forfeited your chance to become a Marine? The short answer is "no." The military gives some people a second chance. It even gives "second chances" more than once, but the situation's less clear-cut then and it does have limits.

Things You'll Need

  • Certificate of disposition
  • High school diploma or transcript
  • Talk with a Marine recruiter and be candid about the driving while intoxicated conviction in your past. Trying to conceal it is fruitless because it will come up in a government background check, even if the conviction was sealed or expunged.

  • For a one-time offense, bring a certificate of disposition showing you have met the court's requirements for remedial training, community service, fines or whatever else the judge demanded when the case was adjudicated. You will also need proof of high school graduation or a transcript showing you are close to attaining it.

  • Even with two or more DWI convictions, the Marine Corps will not bar you automatically. Enlistment will come only with a waiver, however, meaning there's reason to believe you will become a successful Marine. Waiting for a waiver might also mean you'll face a delay in getting to boot camp on Parris Island or in San Diego.

  • If you have six or more DWI convictions, forget about a waiver. You have not only zero chance of enlisting in the corps (or any other U.S. military service) but also an excellent chance of causing serious harm to yourself and others.

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