Who Has Jurisdiction Over the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base DUI?
Jurisdiction over DUI charges at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base may be military, civilian or both. When both entities file charges, they often coordinate to determine which will prosecute the offense criminally. Because he or she is always subject to the UCMJ, an offender cannot be tried twice criminally. But because he or she is always subject to the UCMJ, they may face both civilian and military administrative punishment.
The place of arrest and the authorities involved typically dictate jurisdiction. An active-duty serviceperson arrested on-base and charged with DUI faces one or more of three potential proceedings. Firstly, a military nonjudicial punishment (NJP). Secondly, a non-military federal prosecution. Lastly, the service member may face a military court-martial.
NJP is administrative punishment for lesser crimes and will not result in a recorded conviction. An on-base DUI may be resolved via NJP alone, or in combination with federal prosecution in which the offender is tried according to concurrent Ohio and federal jurisdiction.
YOUR STATUS MATTERS
For active-duty personnel charged with a Wright-Patterson Air Force Base DUI, disposition via only NJP is particularly agreeable because the lack of a conviction means there is no trigger of state enhancement laws or license suspensions. Should that serviceman incur any subsequent off-base offenses, the prosecuting attorney may be unable to enhance a charge because of the original offense. Off-base driver’s license suspensions are not an option under NJP, but if found guilty the serviceman’s on-base privileges may be suspended for 1 year. Federal regulations dictate that a serviceman’s state driver’s license agency should be notified of a DUI regardless of the prosecution method (32 C.F.R. § 634.8(c) (2012)). However, Major Aaron Lykling (an author who served as a special assistant U.S. attorney at Fort Bliss, Texas) suggests this is rarely done or acted upon because of the administrative burden. (Id. at 10).
WHAT LAW APPLIES?
The majority of on-base arrests for a Wright-Patterson Air Force Base DUI are prosecuted by the local United States Attorney’s Office (USAO). Cases proceed under authority of the Assimilative Crimes Act (ACA). The ACA provides that when a person commits a crime on a federal enclave, such as a federal military base, and the crime is not a violation of any federal law, but it is a violation of the laws of the state in which the federal enclave is located. The service person may be prosecuted in federal court and subjected to similar state punishment.
How will you be notified? You will know that you are being prosecuted because you will receive a summons to appear at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The court is located in downtown Dayton across the street from the Montgomery County Courts Building. You can seek a local attorney (like DaytonDUI) to help you avoid having a DUI (in Ohio called an OVI) on your record. Do not just go into court and think that the NJP will be taken into account by the federal judge or magistrate; it won’t.
Besides a local attorney concentrating in DUI law, you should speak to your Area Defense Counsel. They are uniquely qualified to tell you how your Commander has treated past cases. They will often have insight that your civilian attorney may not be able to provide. Although I do not know the legal basis for this statement, anecdotal evidence leads me to believe that they may even be able to steer a potential prosecution into an NJP. Be sure to ask them because this might be wrong in your circumstance.
WHY HIRE DAYTON DUI?
I have been representing civilian and non-civilian service members for over twenty years. In addition, I have testified on-base as an expert witness. It is a source of pride that I have worked with military counsel and area defense counsel. I have a unique skill set that can help you win. In addition, I dedicate my practice to drunk driving defense. I have been a city prosecutor, an arbitration judge, lecturer and teacher. If you want someone with a depth of experience, please call. Nothing is more important that a face-to-face meeting. We offer free consultations. You can also ask about our discounts for service members.