The Governor has just signed SB 725

The Governor has just signed SB 725-Jackson; pre-trial diversion.  SB 725; authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and supported by broad coalition of veterans’ groups, legal organizations, and behavioral health groups; was one of our top veterans priorities this year.

This new law, which will take effect immediately, clarifies that active duty military (and veterans) who suffer from military related traumatic mental health conditions and are before the court charged with violations of Vehicle Code sections 23152 and 23153 dealing with DUIs, are and have always been eligible for military diversion under Penal Code section 1001.80.  This legislation is to correct an oversight in the statutory language to avoid a prolonged period of confusion while differing opinions of Court of Appeal divisions work through the appeals process to the California Supreme Court, which could take approximately 18 months. Currently, courts around the state are experiencing requests for military diversion from veterans charged with misdemeanor violations of Vehicle Code sections 23152 and 23153 in significantly high numbers.

SB 725 will:

1.) Provide that a trial court can grant diversion on a misdemeanor charge of DUI or of DUI causing injury, to a veteran or current member of the military who is 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.

2) State that participation in the military diversion program does not limit the Department of Motor Vehicles’ ability to take administrative sanctions against the person’s driver’s license.

The analysis from the State Senate is attached.

This case will have an immediate effect on the over 30 pending court cases in San Diego alone.

This new law was made possible by Senator Jackson and her dedicated staff; Judith Litzenberger, Executive Director of the California Veterans Legal Task Force (http://www.cvltf.org/about-ushtml) and AMVETS-Department of California who were co-sponsors of the bill.  This bill was very complicated and involved many, many hours of work and negotiation as well as the involvement of many others behind the scenes who lent their expertise and experience.

Special thanks to Bethany Renfree of Senator Jackson’s staff, Lorna Griess-Military Officers Association of America, Lorraine Plass-AMVETS, Don Harper-American Legion, and Fred Romero-American GI Forum.

This legislation was supported by most major veterans organizations:

-American G.I. Forum of California

-American Legion-Department of California

-California Association of County Veterans Service Officers

-California State Commanders Veterans Council

-Disabled American Veterans

-Military Officers Association of America-California Council of Chapters

-National Guard Association of California

-Association of the U.S. Army, SGM Jon R. Cavaiani Chapter

-Jewish War Veterans of the United States, Department of California

-Military Officers Association of America, Department of California

-Reserve Officers Association of America, Chapter of the Golden West