DUI for Military service members
DUI for Military service members
A DUI for military service members requires special handling. Our firm has experience handling DUIs where someone with current, or former, military experience, is facing DUI charges. The law provides options for those that are, or have been, in the military, and can allow you to avoid punishment for certain offenses, or guarantee you treatment. Veterans are recognized as the largest group committing DUI, as the above chart shows. For misdemeanors, assault and drug charges are also a problem. The court system recognizes that there is a problem unique to military veterans, and has created a system that can help.
Drinking and Driving or DUI Cases on a Military Base
If there was a DUI case on a military base, the military treats that especially harshly under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is part of Federal Law (through the U.S. Code), no matter what state the military base is located in.
Military police receive the same training as state and local police regarding DUI offenses, and have training in field sobriety testing, blood tests, and breath testing, and normally have breath testing equipment available on MP patrol vehicles on base.
You can be charged by the military under authority of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Section 911: Art. 111 and subject to both a court martial and adverse administrative actions.
The military has a “zero tolerance” policy on DUI on base, and will typically require a treatment program, restrict all privileges on base, and require service members to do labor on base for a specified period of time. All driving privileges are suspended for one year on base, immediately, and that can only be reversed if the entire case is dismissed. (This is different than the zero tolerance policy California has for underage DUI offenders).
You may be subject to demotions, and may be ineligible for advancement in rank, preferred assignments, or promotions, while you are participating in your non-judicial punishment (NJP) in the military. The NJP is a “diversion” that avoids the more formal court martial proceedings.
For on base cases, even for civilians, the military will give a public defender, or allow you to have an outside attorney represent you throughout the proceedings. The military system also gives you a right to a trial, although the entire system favors negotiations and a plea bargain wherever possible.
DUI Cases Off Base for Current ServiceMen and ServiceWomen
Any DUI cases off base subject you to three different proceedings:
- The DUI criminal prosecution in the State Court or County Court for your DUI charges;
- The DMV drivers license hearing for your driving privileges; and
- The US Military non judicial punishment or court martial process, which you are subject to, under your contract with the military.
The military doesn’t have jurisdiction for events that took place off base (with the exception of desertion charges), but they can punish you for conduct while you are off base or when you are off duty, and are especially interested in punishing drug or alcohol problems, under their zero tolerance policy.
For DUI cases off base, the Orange County Superior Court considers that you are eligible to participate in the Veterans Court program, described below.
However, while the program states that it is created for active or former military, but the Orange County Superior Court has not yet worked out the process for active military, since they are subject to being deployed at any time.
Active Duty Military: At this time, the Orange County Superior Court has not determined the resources available for assessing the eligibility of active duty military personnel. Defendants or their counsel may wish to contact the defendant’s commanding officer for guidance.
Reserve: At this time, the Orange County Superior Court has not determined the resources available for assessing the eligibility of defendants in the Reserves. Defendants or their counsel may wish to contact the defendant’s commanding officer for guidance.
Orange County DUI Cases for Former Military
The Orange County court system, through their collaborative courts program, can help present or former members of the military.
This program is part of a series of programs, that are experimental in many states, (the image above is from Henderson, Nevada), and in many courts, that are trying various approaches to reduce the crime statistics regarding veterans.
Eligibility for Veterans Court for DUI for Military service members
The eligibility requirements of Veterans Court require participants to:
- be serving, or have served in the military,
- plead guilty in a criminal case,
- and be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), substance abuse, or other diagnosed mental health disorders,
- agree to participate in a 15 – 18-month program.
Advantages of Veterans Court in a DUI for Military service members
Under the court rules, “if a defendant successfully completes the diversion program, “the arrest upon which the diversion was based shall be deemed never to have occurred.” (Subd. (i).)” . This is better than a criminal conviction and then a DUI expungement, which does not clear an arrest from your record.
Also, unlike other options, the Veteran’s court can end up dismissing the DUI case entirely, although that will take 18 months to two years (but not longer than 2 years) and involve closely following the treatment in the program, which can be intense
As the Orange County Superior Court rules state:
If the court places the defendant in a pretrial diversion program, and he or she performs satisfactorily during the period of diversion, the criminal charges will be dismissed. (Subd. (c).) The period of diversion “shall be no longer than two years.” (Subd. (h).) During the period of diversion, the service provider must provide reports to the court and parties “not less than every six months.” If the defendant is performing “unsatisfactorily” or “is not benefitting from the treatment and services provided,” the court shall hold a hearing and determine if diversion should end and criminal proceedings resumed. (Subd. (c).)
As you can see, the idea is that the criminal case is placed on hold, treatment is offered, and if treatment is successful, the case is dismissed. If it is not successful, then the case proceeds under the normal criminal system.
How can an Orange County DUI Attorney help in a DUI for Military service members?
Our law firm of Orange County DUI Lawyers can help you by getting you pre-approved for a treatment program that takes into account your unique and particular issues. We can then appear for you, and with you, throughout the court process, and help you all the way through to the complete dismissal of your DUI case upon completion.
Contact our law firm now for help with your DUI if you are former military. We can help and can start today.