In California not all DUI charges are created equal. The charges you will receive and the penalties you may face will depend on your age, type of driver’s license, prior criminal history, where the arrest took place and whether or not you are currently serving in the armed forces.
What is a DUI in California?
Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol with the following blood alcohol concentration levels (BAC) is illegal in California:
Under Age 21
What if you are under the legal drinking age of twenty-one? California has a “zero tolerance policy.” This means that if you are arrested for driving under influence of alcohol with a BAC level of 0.01% or higher you will be charged.
Over Age 21
Anyone over the age of twenty-one driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher.
Anyone driving a commercial vehicle under the influence of alcohol with a BAC level of 0.04% or higher.
Anyone who is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol could face the following penalties:
- Administrative suspension or revocation of driver’s license by DMV for a minimum of four months;
- Confiscation of motor vehicle;
- A maximum sentence of six months in county jail;
- Court fines of up to $1,000;
- Informal probation;
- Community service;
- Court ordered substance abuse treatment
What is a Federal DUI?
If you are a civilian working on base, visiting someone on base, or living with the military member on base, it is crucial that you understand the implications of a DUI on base. When a civilian is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol on a military installation, the case will be filed in federal court. The state does not have jurisdiction over DUI arrests that occur on a military base.
What is a Military DUI?
A military DUI is when an active duty military member is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or while intoxicated. When this occurs, the service member may incur civilian criminal charges and face military punitive measures for the same offense.
Military DUI on Base
If the service member is arrested by military police for driving under the influence of alcohol on base, he or she will be charged under Article 111 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Under this law, “a military member on active duty could be subject to administrative action and a court martial for driving under the influence on a military installation”. It is important to note that under these specific circumstances, you would not incur civilian criminal charges but will still be subject to the state administrative penalties imposed by DMV.
Military DUI off Base
If the service member is arrested by civilian authorities for driving under the influence of alcohol on base, he or she will be charged under California Vehicle Code section 23152(b). Under this law, “it is unlawful for any person who has 0.08% or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.” It is important to note that under these general circumstances, you will likely only be charged for the DUI as a civilian in criminal court. However, your command may decide to take other concurrent actions against you.
It is important that you understand that if you are an active duty member of the armed forces there will be military consequences for driving under the influence. Your chain of command can and most likely will find out when you are booked and they run your background check. As soon as your command finds out you have been arrested for a DUI, they will inquire into the specifics of the case and make their own determination on punishment. You do not want to face them alone! You want to have an experienced military DUI defense attorney who understands military procedures and can explain the criminal proceedings in order to mitigate the situation and avoid military judicial punishment.
Adverse Administrative Action
Administrative action will result in an NJP, non-judicial punishment.
- Mandatory Substance Abuse Treatment
You may be required to complete a substance abuse treatment program and receive counseling.
- Extra Duty Assigned
You may be assigned to work longer hours during the week, work over the weekend, or be given remedial tasks to complete as a sanction.
- Restriction Limits on Base
Your leave privileges will be revoked and you may be restricted to the barracks on the weekends.
- Formal Letter of Reprimand
The letter will consist of the details of your offense and the punishment you received. This will go on your military record and can prevent you from receiving a promotion or getting your contract renewed.
Under court martial, the following judicial punishment may be imposed to active duty military members for driving under the influence of alcohol:
- Loss of Rank
- Reduction in Pay Grade
- Forfeiture of Pay
- Sentenced to the Brigs
- Military Separation Proceedings
It is important that you realize that even if the DUI criminal proceedings against you are dismissed, there can still be military consequences. Pursuant to Article 115 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, an active duty military member may be court martialed for driving under the influence even if the criminal proceedings against you are dismissed. Under this law, any person who operates or physically controls a vehicle, aircraft or vessel in a reckless or wanton manner or while impaired shall be court martialed. This means that even if your DUI charges are dismissed or you are acquitted in civilian court, your command can choose to take punitive actions against you at the conclusion of your civilian criminal proceeding. You cannot afford to wait you must take control of your case early on. Contact Military DUI Criminal Defense Attorney Vik Monder now, so he can begin strategizing the best defense for both your DUI charges and any military consequences.
Contact San Diego Military DUI Defense Attorney Vik Monder for a FREE consultation today at: 619-405-0063