Two months before losing command of Virginia Beach-based Naval Special Warfare Group Eight, fired Navy SEAL Capt. Richard Zaszewski was accused of driving under the influence, according to court records.

Naval Special Warfare Command announced March 20 that Zaszewski was relieved of duty due to a “loss of confidence in his ability to command.” Court records show Zaszewski faces a misdemeanor in Virginia Beach General District Court for a first-offense driving while intoxicated charge stemming from a Jan. 19 arrest.

Zaszewski is a 26-year career sailor. He entered the military in May 1997 and was promoted to captain in August 2019. At the time of his arrest, Zaszewski was the commanding officer of the Virginia Beach-based SEAL unit at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek.

Virginia Beach police stopped Zaszewski around 2 a.m. Jan. 19 for weaving in and out of lanes, according to the arrest report. The sailor failed a field sobriety test and his blood alcohol level was logged at 0.18%, or more than twice the state’s legal limit, according to the report filed in court.

While Navy officials have declined to comment on whether the criminal traffic charge is related to the firing, Hampton Roads-based law firm JAG Defense said the Navy has had a consistent zero-tolerance policy regarding the misconduct of leaders for decades.

“Any commanding officer charged with an offense like a DUI is going to be removed from command. The Navy cannot — and does not — tolerate misconduct from its senior leaders,” said Grover Baxley, founding attorney of JAG Defense and a former active-duty judge advocate in the Air Force.

Navy leaders are held to a high standard of personal and professional conduct, the service said in a March news release when announcing Zaszewski’s firing.

“They are expected to uphold the highest standards of responsibility, reliability, and leadership, and the Navy holds them accountable when they fall short of those standards,” the service said.

Lt. Cmdr. Chelsea Irish, spokesperson for Naval Special Warfare Command added, “The decision was made with careful consideration of the facts and the imperative to uphold the high standards of Navy leadership.”

When asked if Zaszewski’s arrest was related to his firing, Irish declined to provide additional information.

Zaszewski is among six commanding officers to be fired by the Navy this year, according to reports from multiple defense media outlets. He declined to comment at this time through his defense attorney, Robert Morecock.

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