Navy and Marine DUI’s On Base – What to Expect ? Command says NJP or Civilian Court

Navy and Marine DUI’s On Base – What to Expect ?  Command says NJP or Civilian Court

When a Sailor or Marine is arrested for a DUI while on base, there are different ways a command may handle your case after your arrest on base. You may have fumbled around looking for your ID to get back on base or simply don’t have it.  Generally, the Military Police (MP’s) will complete an Incident Report and turn it in to your Command.  The MP’s often have little experience and incomplete training on how to investigate DUI’s, do field sobriety tests and what is required with blood and breath tests. The most recent client that comes to mind had TWO DUI’s in about 30 days.

At San Diego Defenders, attorneys Dan Smith and Jon Pettis believe there is a story behind every case where a sailor that knows he cannot drive on the base while intoxicated aka drunk driving. The reason this sailor was in such a mess was because of a messy divorce situation. Nobody wants to catch their husband or wife in bed with a stranger. Enough said.

We all know if your command likes you, you may negotiate an NJP or non-judicial punishment where you are kicked down a pay grade for a few months and have to do a program and stay out of trouble. Your command can always refer the case to Civilian Court and say things like, “let’s see how you do and then we will decide whether you need NJP, but everyone knows if it’s going all the way to Captain’s Mast pretty early on. Either way, you should have outside legal counsel beside just the JAG that is in the tough position of playing prosecutor and defense attorney depending on the time of day! Get a civilian lawyer, if for no other reason than to know your rights and protect your driving privileges or, as was the case with out client, his command did not give him his civilian court notice to appear until after the date - the DMV was already notified that he did not show up to court and his licensed was suspended until he hired us to go to court.

Civilian Court – United States District Court

DUI’s that occur on U.S. property, like a military base, can be prosecuted in Civilian Court at the closest United States District Court.  Here in San Diego that happens at the Federal Courthouse Downtown.

If this is going to happen, you will receive a letter in the mail which is quite unsettling.


Which will also include the following across the top of the letter:

Violation Number, Location Code ( Base code), Date Violation Notice Issued, Amount Due.

There will also be reference to a Court Location which, at any base in San Diego usually states:





When you receive a letter like that, stop and pickup the phone and call us, San Diego Defenders, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week at (619) 258-8888. The operator will try to get you directly to Attorney Dan Smith, to talk to you directly. If not, he will call you back at the number you leave within 30 minutes. Other firms will have you talk to a salesman, with us, you talk to the lawyer. We will set up an appointment and Dan Smith will talk to you, we have payment plans through the office that never show on a credit report. It is low key, casual atmosphere and Serious Defense Team of Dan Smith and Jon Pettis on EVERY CASE. Let’s get back to what happens.

 We go to court with you. The Central Violations Bureau (CVB) really runs the show and Maria Marabella has been there for the 27 years Dan Smith has been defending federal cases like this.  The CVB sets up your court date is and where you are to appear. But as stated above, it will be at that address. San Diego Defenders’ Lawyers Dan Smith and Jon Pettis will ask you to meet them at the United States District Court, lately in court room 3A on the third floor.

It is critical to have an attorney who understands the process in Federal Court.  The cases are handled in a special Department.  Attorneys meet with JAG officers to negotiate a deal or a deferred entry of judgment because our goal is for a dismissal, every time. The JAG officers are good lawyers, but they know very little about DUI science, field sobriety test procedures and how blood and breath testing works.  A solid lawyer can often get very good deals for lesser charges or dismissals.  That can be critical in getting any Non Judicial Punishment (NJP) reduced or rescinded. It is important to work with your “civilian lawyer” to get what you need depending on if you are applying for your next rank or anticipate being deployed. It all matters.

The lawyers at San Diego Defenders have a great deal of experience dealing with Navy Sailors and Marines clients facing DUI charges in Federal Court.  Dan Smith worked for years as a Federal Defender representing clients in Federal Court. Although Dan Smith graduated high school the year Vietnam war ended, his father Ralph G. Smith, Jr. was Navy and later a judge for 20 years and grandfather was Army in WWII.  Jon Pettis has represented thousands of Navy and Marine as well as civilian clients in State and Federal DUI cases over his 21 years of experience. Combined, Dan Smith and Jon Pettis have 48 years of experience fighting DUI and criminal cases as of 2017. You are in good hands and we make it affordable with a flat fee and payment plans. No surprises, just the best DUI Defense Team in town located with lots of free parking in at 585 3rd Ave. Chula Vista, CA 91910. (TAKE A TOUR HERE).

Military Justice

Sometimes DUI’s on Navy or Marine bases are handled on base without referral to Federal Court.  There is a range of what can occur from you agreeing to NJP terms and certain punishments to Captain’s Mast which may be the alternative to Court Martial.  Common punishments include reduction in rank, loss of pay, confinement to base, extra duty and referral to the Substance Abuse Counseling Center (SACC) for assessment and a program.  In fact, if you are married and live off base, you can be required to move into the barracks for your period of restriction. Most of you know someone who has had a DUI. It is important NOT to share your recent arrest with anyone and we mean nobody needs to know unless we tell you.

Career Implications

If you are making application to move up in rank, a DUI can be a major problem.  For example, it can result in a bad review making it difficult or impossible to make grade within the required time.  Often there can be a reduction in rank.  For Officers, it is even more serious, potentially leading to separation.  Often, if cases can be pleaded down to a lesser charge or dismissed, the impact to your career can be reduced or eliminated. That is always our goal.

Call San Diego Defenders 24 hrs a day 7 days a week at (619) 258-8888 to talk to lawyer Dan Smith and set an appointment at the easy to find and park office at 585 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910