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Drunk Driving Among the Veteran Population is Up 60% Since 2014

Our nation’s veterans have historically experienced hardships upon returning to civilian life. After they return home, it can be difficult for them to reacclimate to the way things were before they were deployed. They may experience PTSD or have physical pains that make day-to-day movements difficult. In the face of this type of adversity, coping mechanisms such as alcohol often begin to find their way into the hands of vets.

According to a recent survey by the American Addiction Centers, the rate of drunk driving incidents among veterans increased from 1.6% in 2014 to 2.5% in 2016—an increase of 56.2% in just two years. While the overall percentage is higher in male vets (increasing from 1.7% to 2.6%), the percentage increase is significantly higher in female vets, measuring in at an alarming 112.5% increase.

The study suggests that depression plays a major role in the incidents of binge drinking (and subsequent DUIs) in our veteran population, with more than a quarter of those studied reporting symptoms of depression in the prior 30 days. 3.5% of the drunk-driving incidents in 2106 were caused by veterans who were experiencing depression.

Military Diversion for California Veterans with PTSD

The State of California recognizes the risks our combat service members and veterans face. As a result, military persons who have been arrested for a DUI are permitted in the court’s discretion to participate in pre-trial diversion programs, which postpone criminal prosecution in order to allow defendants to address underlying issues that may have contributed to their unlawful activities.

In the case of DUIs, pre-trial diversion programs will usually include, at a minimum, substance abuse courses. Once a person completes the course successfully, the military member can often avoid a DUI conviction and all of the penalties associated with such a crime. The court may, however, deem the military member unsuccessful in the program; in this case, he or she will be subject to the same DUI penalties as non-military members.

Your DUI attorney will help you understand the specifics of California’s pre-trial diversion programs for military veterans and help ensure you achieve optimal success as you undergo the process.

How Military Members Can Seek Help

If you’re an active-duty military member, combat veteran, or loved one of someone who’s served, it’s important to know there is help available before situations escalate.

  • Seek mental health counseling. The VA is a great resource for mental health assistance but remember that isn’t not the only option available. There are many private-practice therapists who specialize in helping post-combat veterans cope with their traumas. Some of them have even experienced combat themselves, which makes them a great resource if you only want to talk to someone who truly understands what you’re dealing with and the things you’ve seen. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak; it makes you strong.
  • Seek friendship via social media groups. There are tons of groups on Facebook, Reddit, and other social sites for people who know exactly what you’re going through. Finding friendship with people who understand can mean the difference between a successful day and an evening you’ll regret. These support groups are available 24 hours a day, and they can usually supply you with information on local groups in your area or nationwide hotlines you can call when you need to speak with someone beyond internet chatter.
  • Attend AA meetings. If you’re worried you may have a problem with alcohol, attend AA meetings. You don’t necessarily have to be going through the steps to get something positive out of the experience. More than likely, you’ll meet a person or two who’s been in your shoes, and that alone could save your life.
  • Talk to your loved ones. Don’t leave your spouse in the dark if you’re married or have a partner. Dealing with post-war issues silently can cause problems in your house, even if you think silence is a way of keeping the peace. Your partner cares about your well-being and wants you to be safe and happy. The only way your person can support you is if he or she knows what’s going on.
  • Take care of yourself. Get good sleep, eat well, and exercise regularly. These are important elements for anyone, but they’re especially vital if you’re a vet who’s tempted to look to the bottle as a means of numbing the events that have occurred in your life. If you’ve been prescribed medications, make sure you take them regularly and on schedule, and if they feel like they’re not working, consult your doctor right away. It can often take a few trials and errors to find a combination of meds that does the job it’s supposed to do.

Los Angeles DUI attorney Craig Sturm is devoted to his clients’ wellbeing. He appreciates vets’ service to our country and will do everything he can to fight for them in the courtroom as hard as they fought for us on the battlefield. Lately Craig has been in the forefront of mental health defense for DUI diversion for veterans. He  has been fighting on the front lines with reluctant judges and prosecutors in order to persuade them that his clients who are military veterans should have their DUI dismissed through a program of mental health treatment and therapy.

If you’re a vet who’s been charged with a DUI in California, it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, you really don’t want to go through this process without the assistance of an experienced lawyer like Craig by your side.

Reach out to Craig at (310) 820-1315 or fill out an online form right away.

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