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Vista Military DUI Defense Lawyers


Standing Up for Members of the Military

The state of California takes a strong stance against DUI offenses, seeking harsh penalties on both a criminal and an administrative level. For members of the military, these charges can affect both career and future. No matter the findings of a civilian criminal court, a military court can impose pay reductions, imprisonment, rank reductions, and even dishonorable discharge. Given the proximity to Camp Pendleton, Vista law enforcement officers have experience dealing with U.S. Marines who drive while intoxicated and will not take any excuses when deciding to arrest you. But a conviction is not set in stone, especially when you work with an experienced legal defense team.

If you are a member of the military and have been arrested for DUI in Vista, reach out to jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys. Our lead attorney can use his knowledge as a Criminal Law Specialist to defend you at an administrative, criminal, and military level. Our team has handled thousands of DUI cases successfully. Call our office today at (760) 630-2000 to get a free initial consultation.

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Criminal vs. Military Charges

Under California’s DUI laws, anyone who drives with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher can be charged with driving under the influence – make that any amount of alcohol if you are under 21 years old. For civilians, this can result in a DMV hearing, the loss of a driver’s license, and criminal penalties. But for members of the military, the charges are significantly worse, especially if you were caught on a military base like Camp Pendleton or another facility in North County.

First, you will face all the same administrative and criminal penalties as a civilian, including:

  • Between two days and six months in jail;
  • Up to $1,000 in fines;
  • A license suspension for between four months to one year;
  • DUI school;
  • An ignition interlock device; and/or
  • Vehicle impoundment.

An active service member can also face punishments from a military court. This will depend on the nature of your arrest and who has jurisdiction over your case. An arrest at a military base almost always leads to military penalties, but the base may have limited authority in other parts of North County. Even if the military court does not have jurisdiction, a commanding officer may pursue administrative punishments against you according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which include:

  • Rank reduction
  • Pay reduction
  • Fines
  • Loss of security clearance
  • Imprisonment
  • Dishonorable discharge

No matter what, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced DUI lawyer. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, our legal team has served clients throughout North County for more than 30 years and thoroughly understands the intricacies of local courts – including court-martials at Camp Pendleton. You can trust your case is in good hands when you let us handle your defense.

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Defenses Against a DUI Conviction

Beating a DUI conviction will come down to the nature of your arrest. There are many factors to consider, including the experience of the officer who arrested you, how your sobriety test was handled, whether the officer followed proper procedures, and how accurate any chemical tests were. We can employ several strategies on your behalf, including:

  • Showing that the field sobriety test was mishandled.
  • Proving that the chemical test showed a false positive.
  • Showing that the arresting officer performed an illegal stop.
  • Arguing that the arresting officer did not impose a 15-minute observation period.
  • Proving that you only showed the objective signs of intoxication.

It may also be possible for you to enter a diversion program instead of being convicted.

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How to Enter a Military DUI Diversion Program

San Diego County courts allow military defendants to enter diversion programs in certain cases where their criminal charges are directly related to certain medical or psychological conditions. According to Penal Code 1001.80, a member of the military may enter a diversion program in lieu of jail time when he or she is charged with a misdemeanor. If your lawyer files a Request for Military Diversion, the court may pause your trial until you complete an education and rehabilitation program. Upon completion, your charges will be dropped and case dismissed, allowing you to avoid the harsh penalties of a civilian conviction.

To enter a military diversion program for a DUI, you must:

  • Be a current or former member of the military;
  • Have been charged with a misdemeanor;
  • As a result of your military service, be suffering from sexual trauma, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, or a mental illness;
  • Agree to enter a military diversion program; and
  • Have not entered a military diversion program before.

This program may include rehabilitation and treatment for alcohol or drug use, as well as random drug tests, counseling, and evaluation reports. If this is your first time being charged with a DUI, it is important that you discuss this option with your lawyer. It may be your best shot at avoiding a conviction.

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Arrested for a DUI? Call jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we believe that every defendant, no matter the nature of their arrest, deserves a fair trial and proper treatment by the courts. Oftentimes, getting this comes down to the experience and skill of your attorney, not the mercy of the court. If you are on active duty, a DUI arrest can change your life. We understand you may be confused, lost, and angry about the situation, and we want to give you the best defense possible.

If you or someone you love is an active or former member of the military and has been arrested for a DUI, do not hesitate to contact a Vista criminal defense lawyer at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys. We can get started on your defense immediately and we offer special rates for first-time offenders. Call us today at (760) 630-2000 to get a free consultation.

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James N. Dicks

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