The Connection Between DUIs and Veterans

January 10, 2019

The study shows an increase from 1.6 to 2.5%.

The Connection Between DUIs and Veterans

Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is something that is not limited to any specific type of person. People of all races, religions, classes, and occupations are charged with drinking and driving. As an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney, I have seen the gamut of people walk into my office after being charged with a California DUI. Yet a recent study shows that one group of people seems to be suffering from an increased rate of alcohol-related issues, including driving under the influence.

According to a study from American Addiction Centers, drunk driving among veterans in the United States has risen from 1.6% to 2.5% since 2014. This represents a nearly 60% increase in the time span of the study. California leads the way as the worst state for drunk driving among veterans, at 9.1%. THe next closest state was Kentucky at 4.1%, followed by Washington, D.C. (4.0%), Illinois (3.7%), Connecticut (3.6%), Hawaii (3.3%), Wisconsin (3.2%), Mississippi (3.1%), Massachusetts (3.1%) and Michigan (2.8%). Virginia had the lowest percentage of veterans who drove drunk, at just .5%.

Despite having some of the strictest DUI laws in the country, California has far and away the most veterans who engage in drunk driving. This demonstrates that there might be other issues at play — and that strict laws alone won’t stop drunk driving from occurring.

The study’s authors drew a connection between depression among veterans and binge drinking. According to the study, more than 25% of “American veterans who self-identified as depressed” engaged in binge drinking. Veterans who suffer from depression “are more than twice as likely to be linked with drunk driving” than veterans who do not suffer from depression and other mental health issues.

Recognizing that drunk driving behaviors with veterans may be linked to depression and other mental health problems, the California legislature recently changed the law to allow military members to participate in a pre-trial diversion program to avoid a DUI conviction. Through this program, the court will postpone criminal prosecution to allow a defendant to engage in a program to address the root causes of the conduct, such as driving under the influence. If the program is successfully completed, then the case is dismissed. Generally, pre-trial diversion programs do not include DUI offenses. However, for some military members, pre-trial diversion for DUIs is available.

As an Orange County DUI defense attorney can explain, veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, sexual trauma or any other mental health issues as a result of having served in the military are eligible to participate in pre-trial diversion. If eligible, they will be required to participate (at a minimum) in a substance abuse course. Importantly, as an Orange County DUI defense attorney can explain, if a veteran fails to complete the terms of the program, he or she will be subject to the same penalties as anyone else who has been charged with a DUI.

If you have been charged with a DUI, the Chambers Law Firm can help. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled Orange County DUI defense attorney.



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