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At military installations, investigations for driving while intoxicated by alcohol or impaired by a controlled substance are investigated by law enforcement personnel. These officials are identified as military police, security police, civilian guards, or DOD police.
If you are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs at MacDill AFB or any other military installation, then you might receive notice of a preliminary suspension of your driving privileges on the military base. You might also be charged with intoxicated driving or another traffic offense in a DD Form 1408 (Armed Forces Traffic Ticket) or a DD Form 1805 (United States District Court Violation Notice).
Because these cases are relatively rare, few attorneys have much experience defending people accused of driving while intoxicated at a military installation.
Over the years, we've learned a lot about the procedural rules and how they are actually carried on the military base. The first step is understanding all the unique issues that apply to an intoxicated driving incident that occurs at a military installation or involves a member of the military.
The goal in these cases is resolving all aspects of the case on the best possible terms. At the Sammis Law Firm, we have years of experience handling these complex and unique types of cases. The rules and procedures used by the military are very different from the rules and procedures used in most DUI cases in the civilian world.
Our criminal defense attorneys understand the special issues that arise when an allegation of drunk or impaired driving occurs at a military installation including at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL. We also represent members of the military stationed at other military installations who are arrested for DUI while in the Tampa Bay area or throughout Florida.
Act quickly. After a DUI arrest or incident on base, the clock starts ticking. For the administrative suspension pending with the DHSMV, you only have 10 calendar days to demand a formal review hearing. For the on-base immediate suspension, you only have 14 calendar days to properly request the administrative hearing. If you miss one of those important deadlines or don't follow all of the procedural rules when making the request, then you are waving your right to challenge the suspension or get it overturned.
Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.
In addition to the administrative or disciplinary action under current civilian personnel regulations or State laws, the additional consequences to a member of the military after an intoxicated driving incident can include:
According to AFI 31-218(I), an incident of intoxicated driving can include one or more of the following:
The term "driver" used throughout the rules is defined to include any person who drives or is in physical control of a motor vehicle. A driver is in physical control when in position to control the motor vehicle, whether to regulate or restrain its operation or movement.
For example, actual physical control would include sitting in a parked car behind the steering wheel, keeping it in restraint or in a position to control its movement. The word "driver" is interchangeable with the word "operator."
A DUI accusation that occurs outside of a military installation typically comes with two different and distinct proceedings under state law. The first is the administrative suspension with the DHSMV and the second is the criminal accusation resolve in state court. When the drunk or impaired driving accusation occurs on the military installation, two similar types of proceedings are triggered.
To make matters even more complicated, if you were arrested for DUI off base, in addition to fighting the DHSMV administrative suspension and the criminal case in state court, the arrest might also trigger an on-base suspension. An attorney can help during all three processes.
The suspension of driving privileges at the military installation is defined in AFI 31-218(I), as the "temporary withdrawal by an installation commander of a person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle on a military installation for up to 12 months. Privileges normally are automatically restored on the day after the date the suspension ends." This type of suspension is not typically reported on your official state-issued driving record.
This penalty is different from the suspension of a driver's license which is defined in AFI 31-218(I) as the "temporary withdrawal by formal action of State, host nation, or overseas command authority of a person's license or privilege to operate a motor vehicle on the public highways." In Florida, the suspension of a driver's license typically applies under state law when the arresting officer makes an arrest for DUI off the base and it triggers the administrative suspension through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
The rules of the on-base suspension are found in AFI 31-218(I) and the local rules including MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE INSTRUCTION 31-116 (MACDILLAFBI31-116 6 DECEMBER 2017). After you receive notice of the immediate suspension, you should immediately retain a DUI attorney experienced in representing members of the military after an on-base administrative suspension.
If you are not guilty of the intoxicated driving incident or if other problems exist in the case, then you should fight the administrative suspension by demanding an administrative hearing. We can help you spot the issues in your case, understand the long-term consequences of the accusation, and fight the case appropriately.
According to AFI 31-218(I), Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, Chapter 2, Driving Privileges, Section 2–4(a)(3), explains the suspension or revocation of driving or privately owned vehicle registration privileges. The installation commander or designee may for cause, or any lawful reason, administratively suspend driving privileges on the installation.
Immediate suspension of installation or overseas command POV driving privileges pending resolution of an intoxicated driving incident is authorized for active duty military personnel, family members, retired members of the military services, DOD civilian personnel, and others with installation or overseas command driving privileges, regardless of the geographic location of the intoxicated driving incident. Suspension is authorized for non–DOD affiliated civilians only with respect to incidents occurring on the installation or in areas subject to military traffic supervision.
After a review of available information as specified in paragraph 2–6, installation driving privileges will be immediately suspended pending resolution of the intoxicated driving accident in the following circumstances:
Driving privileges are subject to revocation when an individual fails to comply with any of the conditions requisite to the granting privilege. Revocation of military installation driving and registration privileges is authorized for military personnel, family members, DOD civilian employees, contractors, and other individuals with installation driving privileges. For civilian guests, revocation is authorized only with respect to incidents occurring on the installation or in the areas subject to military traffic supervision.
Driving privileges will be revoked for a mandatory period of not less than 1 year in the following circumstances:
When temporary suspensions are followed by revocations, the period of revocation is computed beginning from the date the original suspension was imposed, exclusive of any period during which full driving privileges may have been restored pending resolution of charges.
Consider the following example. Privileges were initially suspended on 1 January 2000 for a charge of intoxicated driving with a BAC of 0.14 percent. A hearing was held, extreme family hardship was substantiated, and privileges were restored on 1 February pending resolution of the charge.
On 1 March 2000, the driver was convicted for intoxicated driving. The mandatory 1–year revocation period will consist of January 2000 plus March 2000 through January 2001, for a total of 12 months with no installation driving privileges.
According to AFI 31-218(I), Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, Chapter 2, Driving Privileges, Section 2–3(a), explains the term "implied consent" for blood, breath, or urine tests." Persons who drive on the military installation shall be deemed to have given their consent to evidential tests for alcohol or other drug content of their blood, breath, or urine when lawfully stopped, apprehended, or cited for any offense allegedly committed while driving or in physical control of a motor vehicle on military installations to determine the influence of intoxicants.
Under AFI 31-218(I), the test may be administered only if the following conditions are met:
The law enforcement official relying on implied consent will warn the person that driving privileges will be revoked if the person fails to voluntarily submit to or complete a requested chemical test. The person does not have the right to have an attorney present before stating whether he or she will submit to a test, or during the actual test. Installation commanders will prescribe the type or types of chemical tests to be used. Testing must follow certain policies and procedures listed in AFI 31-218(I).
The results of chemical tests conducted under the implied consent provisions of this regulation may be used as evidence in courts–martial, nonjudicial proceedings under UCMJ, Art. 15, administrative actions, and civilian courts.
The administrative due process requirements for suspensions and revocations are found in AFI 31-218(I), Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, Chapter 2, Driving Privileges, Section 2–6. Under these rules, Individual Services will promulgate separate regulations establishing administrative due process procedures for suspension or revocation of driving privileges.
For cases at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, a preliminary suspension for intoxicated driving remains in effect until the installation commander makes a final decision. Requested hearings must take place within a reasonable period, which is determined by the installation commander. For offenses other than intoxicated driving, suspension or revocation of the installation driving privilege will not become effective until the installation commander or designee notifies the affected person and offers that person an administrative hearing.
If the revocation or suspension is imposed after the administrative hearing, the person whose driving privilege has been suspended or revoked will have the right to appeal or request reconsideration. Such requests must be forwarded through command channels to the installation commander within 14 calendar days from the date the individual is notified of the suspension or revocation resulting from the administrative hearing. The suspension or revocation will remain in effect pending a final ruling on the request.
For drunk driving or driving under the influence offenses, reliable evidence readily available will be presented promptly to an individual designated by the installation commander for review and authorization for immediate suspension of installation driving privileges.
Reliable evidence includes witness statements, military or civilian police report of apprehension, chemical test results if completed, refusal to consent to complete chemical testing, videotapes, statements by the apprehended individual, field sobriety or preliminary breath tests results, and other pertinent evidence.
The immediate suspension should not be based solely on published lists of arrested persons, statements by parties not witnessing the apprehension, or telephone conversations or other information not supported by documented and reliable evidence.
Reviews normally will be accomplished within the first normal duty day following final assembly of evidence. Installation commanders may authorize the installation law enforcement officer to conduct reviews and authorize suspensions in cases where the designated reviewer is not reasonably available and, in the judgment of the installation law enforcement officer, such immediate action is warranted. Air Force Security Forces personnel act in an advisory capacity to installation commanders. Review by the designated officer will follow as soon as practical in such cases.
When a suspension notice is based on the law enforcement officer’s review, there is no requirement for confirmation notice following subsequent review by the designated officer. For active duty military personnel, final written notice of suspension for intoxicated driving will be provided to the individual’s chain of command for immediate presentation to the individual.
Air Force Security Forces provide a copy of the temporary suspension to the individual at the time of the incident or may provide a copy of the final determination at the time of the incident, as predetermined by the final action authority. For civilian personnel, written notice of suspension for intoxicated driving will normally be provided without delay via certified mail.
Air Force Security Forces personnel provide a copy of the temporary suspension to the individual at the time of the incident or may provide a copy of the final determination at the time of the incident, as predetermined by the final action authority. If the person is employed on the installation, such notice will be forwarded through the military or civilian supervisor. When the notice of suspension is forwarded through the supervisor, the person whose privileges are suspended will be required to provide written acknowledgment of receipt of the suspension notice.
Requirements for the Suspension for Intoxicating Driving Notices of suspension for intoxicated driving will include the following:
For revocation actions for intoxicated driving, the revocation is mandatory on conviction or other findings that confirm the charge. Any plea of nolo contendere are considered equivalent a plea of guilty. Revocations are effective as of the date of conviction or other findings that confirm the charges. Test refusal revocations will be in addition to any other revocation incurred during a hearing.
Hearing authority will determine if revocations for multiple offenses will run consecutively or concurrently taking into consideration, if the offenses occurred on the same occasion or different times, dates. The exception is that test refusal will be one-year automatic revocation in addition to any other suspension.
The notice that revocation is automatic may be placed in the suspension letter. If it does not appear in the suspension letter, a separate letter must be sent and revocation is not effective until receipt of the written notice. Revocations cancel any full or restricted driving privileges that may have been restored during the suspension and the resolution of the charges. Requests for restoration of full driving privileges are not authorized.
The DUI defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, are experienced in representing active duty military personnel in the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Reserve or National Guard.
Even non-DOD affiliated civilians can face a suspension, but only with respect to incidents occurring on the installation or in areas subject to military traffic supervision. Those civilians often include family members, contractors, and other individuals with installation driving privileges.
If you received notice of a preliminary suspension because of a drunk or impaired driving allegation on a military installation, including MacDill Air Force Base, then you need an experienced attorney to help you request an administrative hearing to ask for the suspension to be overturned.
We can also help you understand the process of getting permission to drive on base while the investigation is pending. If a criminal accusation is being filed in the U.S. District Court, then we can help you fight that case with the goal of avoiding a conviction or getting the accusation completely dropped.
Contact the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the facts of your case and the best ways to fight the allegations. Let us put our experience to work for you.
Call 813-250-0500 today.
This article was last updated on Friday, April 6, 2018.
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Jason D. SammisTampa native with 15 years experience. University of Florida College of Law Graduate...Read more
Leslie M. SammisFocused on DUI Defense for more than 15 years. Former Assistant Public Defender...Read more
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