California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation allowing misdemeanor DUI cases to be included in California's military diversion program. Penal Code Section 1001.80 allows a court to postpone prosecution of a misdemeanor criminal case and place the defendant in a pretrial diversion program if the defendant is or was a member of the United States military and if he or she may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, sexual trauma, substance abuse, or mental health problems as a result of his or her military service. The deferred defendant would be referred to an appropriate treatment program rather than criminally prosecuted. If he or she successfully completed the treatment program, and does not pick up any new offenses during the diversion period, the case will get dismissed.
Until Governor Brown signed this legislation, the statute was silent as to whether DUI cases could be included in this program. That left the issue open to the courts to decide. This ambiguity as to whether or not the statute permitted DUI cases to be eligible for military diversion resulted in courts throughout California making their own decision whether to allow it or not. The new legislation, Senate Bill 725, makes the law clear: Misdemeanor DUI cases are eligible for military diversion. Penal Code Section 1001.80 was amended to add subdivision "L" which states as follows:
"Notwithstanding any other law, including Section 23640 of the Vehicle Code, a misdemeanor offense for which a defendant may be placed in a pretrial diversion program in accordance with this section includes a misdemeanor violation of Section 23152 or 23153 of the Vehicle Code. However, this section does not limit the authority of the Department of Motor Vehicles to take administrative action concerning the driving privileges of a person arrested for a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 of the Vehicle Code."
The second sentence of the new law says that although the DUI offense may be diverted from prosecution, and eventually dismissed, the DMV may still take administrative action against the veteran's driver's license. Nevertheless, this is great news for active military and veterans who will be afforded an opportunity to get treatment that they need for substance abuse and other issues, rather than facing criminal prosecution. The treatment that will be required will vary by court and needs to be negotiated between the veteran's DUI lawyer, the prosecutor, and the Judge. If you are active duty U.S. military, or a veteran, and have been arrested for DUI, CONTACT our office today for a free and confidential consultation. If you are eligible for military diversion you will want a good DUI attorney in your corner to help you work out the best treatment plan possible, one that will put you not only in the best position to get your case dismissed but to succeed in life going forward. Berglund Law Office, P.C. specializes in representing persons arrested for DUI. CONTACT our office today.