California is known for being quite groundbreaking in its legislation and laws, often passing bills or regulations that are the first of their kind in the legal world. One such bill recently proposed by a California state senator has been passed and signed into law by California governor, Jerry Brown. This bill aims at ensuring that disabled veterans arrested for a first-time DUI receive treatment instead of probation or jail time. For disabled vets now accused of DUI, this could be welcome news.
For the average first time DUI offender, they could be facing a variety of potential consequences and punishments associated with a conviction. However, this new bill would offer reprieve for injured vets who are accused of first time DUI by proposing treatment rather than jail time. Keep in mind, it applies only to cases of misdemeanor DUIs, not felony DUIs, which are the minority of cases. Looking to the bill's language, we can see what may constitute a veteran's disability status.
Truth be told, a disability could be mental, physical or emotional. The military diversion program allows a court to dismiss first-time DUI/DWI charges against an active military member or veteran "accused of a misdemeanor offense . . . who may be suffering from sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems as a result of his or her military service." The exact language of the bill shows that a veteran's disability could be a range of mental, physical or emotional issues. However, true disability can only be diagnosed by a medical professional.
If you are a disabled vet who is accused of a 1st time DUI, it's crucial to know how this bill could affect the criminal charges against you. California is one of the only states to pass a bill of this nature. DUI can carry a range of consequences. If a disabled vet can receive the help they may need, it could be a great solution.
Source: mpacorn.com, "State senator's bill gives vets reprieve in first-offense DUI arrest," Hector Gonzalez, August 18, 2017