Many states have what are called “diversion” programs written into their laws. What these programs do is allow for first-time offenders who have been arrested for a crime to apply to the diversion program and get treatment instead of jail time. Now, California has signed into law a bill that gives this possibility to veterans and active-duty military personnel, as the Moorpark Acorn reports.
Many veterans are already struggling to cope with military-related mental health issues. Like many Americans, sometimes these veterans use alcohol as a way to cope with these issues. Getting a DUI conviction, jail time, probation, and all of the monetary fines can exacerbate these issues.
Democrat State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson introduced SB 725 to the legislature, and it was recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
The bill allows for the court to dismiss first-time DUI charges against an active-duty or veteran who is charged with a misdemeanor offense. This does not mean that every active duty military person or veteran will automatically qualify for the program. The criteria for qualification is very strict.
Those who do qualify will be required to complete the program once enrolled. If they fail to do so, a judge can reinstate criminal proceedings.
The program can include a treatment program lasting anywhere from 12 to 24 weeks, which can include drug treatment, counseling, and random drug or alcohol testing. Their treatment provider must submit progress reports every 90 days to the court.
Judges will be able to deny admittance to the diversion program if there is record of previous DUI arrests and if the DUI-related crash has injured or killed other drivers or passengers.
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