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Nicholas W.
Christoph

William R.
Christoph

40 Years

DUI in the military: What it can mean for you

If you are in the military at one of San Diego’s many military bases, you probably feel fortunate to be stationed in one of the nation’s most desirable locations. Whether you’re stationed at Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Naval Base Coronado, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Naval Base 32nd Street or another base in the San Diego area, you and your military status can be greatly affected by a DUI arrest.

Facing civilian DUI charges

If you’ve been pulled over by San Diego Police, San Diego County Sheriffs or by California Highway Patrol and charged with DUI while you are off base, not only do you face criminal charges in civilian court, but possible actions by your command.

Usually military personnel face administrative actions on base like non-judicial punishment by the command that can include reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, restriction to base, extra military duty and alcohol assessment/program as well as a base driver’s license suspension. A DUI may affect your career by impacting pro and con marks, fitness reports, re-enlistment, job assignments and security clearances.

Double jeopardy ban

NJP, non-judicial punishment, is an administrative action, not a prosecution involving a court of law, and is therefore not double jeopardy. The double jeopardy clause of the U.S. Constitution’s fifth amendment protects people from being prosecuted twice for the same crime.

Presently, if you’re charged with driving under the influence while you’re on a military base, you usually face both administrative actions, NJP, and possible prosecution in Federal Court in downtown San Diego.

Military diversion

If you are charged with a misdemeanor in state Court, (even a DUI) and are a former or current member of the U.S. Military, you may be eligible for MILITARY DIVERSION and get your charges dismissed. To be eligible for diversion and dismissal, you must be suffering from sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or other mental health problems as a result of your military service and complete a treatment program recommended by an appropriate professional and approved by the Court.

Civilian court punishments

If you’re convicted of a first-offense DUI in a civilian court in San Diego County, you’ll be confronted by a wide variety of possible punishments, including:

  • Up to a six-month driver’s license suspension
  • Probation for three to five years
  • Fine of up to $1,000 – (Total due is greatly increased by assessments added to the fine).
  • Installation at your expense of an ignition interlock device
  • Up to six months jail (or Alternatives)
  • Mandatory completion of a three or nine month DUI program. (Depending on Blood Alcohol level)

The presence of certain aggravating factors in your case, like an accident or high blood alcohol level, could result in harsher enhanced penalties imposed by the civilian court.

Screening former or active duty military personnel for military diversion eligibility is an important option available to those who qualify. Details of your contact, detention and arrest, along with the alcohol testing should be discussed with an attorney to evaluate any defenses. Additionally, military service, deployments, awards, and general individual background information can reveal mitigating factors to be considered to help get the best possible resolution.

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