July 6, 2017 By Matthew Wallin

Should DUI punishment be difference for you if you are a veteran? A proposed law could provide veterans with a chance to receive softer punishment for misdemeanor DUI convictions.

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara, Ventura) is proposing Senate Bill 725 to expand existing law that allows veterans to enter pretrial diversion programs for misdemeanor convictions to DUI crimes. The current law does not include diversion as an option for misdemeanor DUI or DUI causing injury, but SB 725 would make those crimes eligible for diversion.

To qualify for this diversion program, the defendant would need to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, sexual trauma or mental health issues related to his or her military service.

SB 725 passed through the Assembly Public Safety Committee recently. It gained unanimous support in the Senate but needs to be voted on by the full Assembly before going to the California Supreme Court. If it passes those stages, it must then be signed into law by the governor.

Do Veterans Deserve Different Treatment for DUI Convictions?

Critics of SB 725 have spoken out about its potential harm to public safety. They argue that allowing veterans who are accused of misdemeanor DUI to enter diversion programs without first being convicted of the crime could lead to an attitude that encourages veterans to commit multiple DUI offenses and divert them.

However, there are provisions that could prevent those fears from becoming reality. The DMV can still revoke the driver’s license or take any other administrative action to reduce driving privileges for those who commit DUI. Judges may also be able to deny persons diversion – DMV records can be a factor when determining whether a defendant is allowed to enter diversion.

California previously adopted a veterans treatment court where veterans and military personnel who were found guilty of certain crimes could have their convictions dismissed if they completed a counseling program. The DUI diversion program is merely another form of that program. Allowing veterans to get treatment as early as possible could be the best way to prevent relapse. Not only can veterans go into treatment programs earlier with the diversion program, they don’t risk losing financial or medical benefits from potential dishonorable discharges.

Contact the DUI Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, you should contact an experienced DUI defense attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, our experienced criminal defense attorneys have been successfully defending clients accused of DUI for more than 35 years. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Los Angeles, West Covina, Torrance and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich DUI attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call our office today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.


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