Military diversion for DUI cases was ruled on by 2 different appellate courts in California, each with a different opinion. The issue has been whether or not military diversion per California Penal Code (PC) 1001.80 applies to DUI cases in California. PC 1001.80 was enacted by the legislature, took effect in January 1, 2015 and authorized individuals who are currently or had been in the US military a diversion for a misdemeanor resulting in dismissal rather than a criminal conviction.
Military diversion for DUI cases allows a Court to allow treatment in lieu of prosecution if the military or former military member is suffering from sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or other mental health probelems as a result of military service. A 30 year old law VC 23640 prohibits diversion in DUI cases. However, this new military diversion law did not exclude diversion for DUI cases. Many of the problems veterans are facing involve alcohol abuse from military service and the purpose of the law was to help veterans get treatment and avoid the negative effects of a conviction on their future. A San Diego Appellate Court ruled that the exclusion does apply and Military Diversion cannot include DUIs, however the Appellate Court in Los Angeles ruled that it does cover DUI cases and appears to have intended to include them.
With 2 different Appellate Courts having completely different findings, it is unclear what the Courts will do. This situation usually calls for the California Supreme Court to address and settle the issue. That can take time, meanwhile the status of military DUI diversion remains unclear in local Courts. Defense attorneys, prosecutors and Judges will be addressing this issue in the coming weeks perhaps in different ways until there is clarity. It is important you contact an experienced DUI attorney familiar with military issues if you are in this situation. Christoph Law Offices include a former USMC Captain and his son with over 30 years criminal and DUI experience across from Vista Courts, call 760-941-5720 for a free consultation.