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Marin County Military Diversion DUI Program Lawyer

Corte Madiera Military Diversion Program Attorney

San Rafael Drunk Driving Defense Attorney Provides Legal Assistance for Military Members

Being arrested for DUI in Marin County can land you in serious legal trouble. The penalties for a California drunk driving conviction are among the toughest in the nation, and the Marin County DA's office is well-known for its unwillingness to negotiate plea bargains, even with first-time offenders. If you are a military veteran or active member of the U.S. Armed forces and suffer the misfortune of being pulled over for drunk driving in Marin County, there may be a way to avoid the negative consequences of the incident through the military diversion program.

On January 1, 2015, California Penal Code Section 1001.80 took effect. Under this law, a diversion program was created for former and current members of the military who are charged with a misdemeanor DUI. Under the program, veterans and active duty military who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), substance abuse, or other mental conditions may be eligible for a "military diversion", allowing them to complete a treatment program rather than having to go through a criminal trial.

A military diversion is a major benefit for those eligible, because it allows them to remove the stigma of having a criminal record. There is no trial, no guilty plea, and even the arrest record is removed once the treatment program has been completed. In short, once the individual completes the program, it is as if the incident never happened.

Military Diversions and the Courts

Since going into effect, P.C. §1001.80 has been amended to specifically state that qualifying military members charged with misdemeanor DUI are eligible for a military diversion notwithstanding potentially contradictory language in California Vehicle Code Section 23640. Prior to this amendment, the California Court of Appeals had been split on this question.

Since the law has been clarified, some courts are still imposing judicially-created standards for program eligibility. For example, a court might rule the defendant ineligible if he/she has prior convictions or other aggravated circumstances, even though these factors do not make someone ineligible for the program.

The eligibility requirements for military diversion are simple and straightforward:

  • The individual is a current or former member of the U.S. military;
  • The individual is charged with a misdemeanor; and
  • The individual may be suffering from PTSD, TBI, substance abuse, sexual trauma, or mental health problems.

It is important to emphasize the word "may" in assessing eligibility for a military diversion. It is not necessary to show that an individual is definitely suffering from any of the aforementioned conditions, only that they may be.

To obtain court approval for a military diversion, you must show both eligibility and suitability for the program. Demonstrating eligibility is relatively easy, because there are clear statutory requirements. Suitability, on the other hand, is more challenging. Even if an individual is eligible for the military diversion program, it is still left to the discretion of the court to determine whether or not the program should be offered.

Many courts are resistant to offering the program to those who are eligible and must be convinced that the individual is suitable for a military diversion. This is where an in-depth understanding of the qualifying factors is important. You must demonstrate why your history and experiences warrant your participation in the program rather than going to trial for DUI. The motion should be thorough and clearly and coherently state the reasons the court should offer you the diversion.

Once the court has been presented with the facts and evidence regarding important details, such as the individual's combat experience, activities he/she was engaged in while deployed, struggles and challenges he/she has faced since returning home, and other critical factors, judges can often be persuaded to grant the individual entry into the program.

Speak With an Experienced Marin County DUI Defense Lawyer

A military diversion is a great option for veterans and active duty military who are charged with a misdemeanor DUI. To be successful, however, you need a strong advocate in your corner who knows the ins and outs of the program and what arguments need to be made to convince the court to grant program approval. Attorney Paul Burglin has successfully represented hundreds of motorists charged with DUI in Marin County. Attorney Burglin co-authors California Drunk Driving Law, a two-volume legal guide that includes hundreds of authoritative case interpretations, unique decision-based DUI defenses, and answers to countless DUI-related questions. Paul understands the military diversion program, and he knows the best arguments to make to ensure those who are eligible are able to gain program approval from the court.

If you are a current or former military member charged with misdemeanor DUI in Marin County, contact our office today at 415-729-7300 for a discreet and confidential consultation with attorney Paul Burglin. We serve clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Marin County, including San Rafael, Corte Madera, Novato, Sausalito, Lagunitas, Belvedere, Bolinas, Dillon Beach, Fairfax, Forest Knolls, Greenbrae, Ignacio, Inverness, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marshall, Mill Valley, Muir Beach, Nicasio Valley, Olema, Point Reyes Station, Ross, San Anselmo, San Geronimo, Stinson Beach, Tiburon, Tomales, and Woodacre.

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