Military Diversion: One Extra Option Available to Some Veterans Charged with DUI in California

If you’ve just been charged with misdemeanor drunk driving, you may think that this type of charge doesn’t really require you to retain legal counsel. After all, it’s just a misdemeanor, so it won’t affect your life that much, right? Furthermore, you might think that you can “get out of it” without an attorney, or will end up being convicted even with an attorney, so why spend the money? The reality is that even misdemeanor DUI convictions can have substantial effects on your life. However, with the aid of a skilled San Francisco DUI defense attorney, you may have more options than you think, including having the charge never appear on your record, even if you actually were driving drunk at the time.

Imagine it:  the police pulled you over. The officer conducts a breathalyzer test, and your result is above a .08. There was nothing wrong with the test, and there was nothing wrong with your consent to it. Your case has no hope, right? Wrong. There may be many various methods through which a skilled defense attorney can assist you and reduce or eliminate the impact of this arrest.

For some veterans, they may have an extra option:  military diversion. California has a statute, Penal Code Section 1001.80, that recognizes that there are often mitigating circumstances when it comes to veterans and violations of the law. This diversion program may, in the end, leave you with a result that’s as if the arrest never happened at all.

Who is eligible to participate in military diversion? The law says that you must be someone who was charged with a misdemeanor crime, must be a current or former member of the military, and must suffer from “sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems” connected to your military service.

How does the process work? After you are arrested, you will be arraigned. After your arraignment but before trial, your counsel asks the court to accept you into the diversion program. The court must conclude that you are both eligible for the program and suitable for the program. Proving eligibility is often comparatively straightforward. Persuading the judge on suitability often requires counsel with an in-depth knowledge of the law and detailed experience with the legal procedure of diversion cases.

You do not have to have been a combat veteran or have received an honorable discharge from the military to qualify for the program.

Once accepted, your criminal case is suspended. You will be required to complete a treatment program. After successful completion of your treatment, the court will remove your arrest from your record, making it as if you were never arrested. The California legislature has amended this law to make it clear that the military diversion program is available for all misdemeanors, including DUI.

All DUI charges, whether they are misdemeanors or felonies, are potentially serious matters that can have significant negative effects on your life. Regardless of the exact charges and regardless of the facts, your case deserves a diligent defense that explores all of the options the law gives you. The San Francisco DUI defense lawyers at Uthman Law Office have been offering thoughtful solutions and providing effective representation to our DUI defense clients for many years. Attorney David Uthman has over 20 years of experience as a litigation attorney and almost a decade of experience as a police officer. Put our knowledge of the law and the system to work for you. Call us today at (415) 556-9200 to schedule your FREE initial consultation to get the help you need.

More blog posts:

When Blood Evidence Collected Without a Warrant Should Be Excluded in a California DUI Trial, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, May 30, 2018

How the Fourth Amendment May Help You Keep a Warrantless Blood Test’s Results out of Your California DUI Case, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, March 6, 2018

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