Being charged with a DWI or DUI on a military base in New Jersey, such as the Fort Dix/McGuire Joint Base, or the Lakehurst Naval Station, or in a Federal Park, like Sandy Hook, can have severe consequences. Further, the laws governing DWI or DUI on federal property are a lot different than when it occurs elsewhere in the State.
First, you will not appear in Municipal Court. Rather, the case will be heard before a Federal Magistrate, sitting either at the Fort Dix/McGuire Joint Base Court or at the Federal District Court in Newark. Second, you will not be prosecuted by a part-time Municipal Prosecutor, but either an Assistant United States Attorney or a Judge Advocate General’s office (JAG).
DWI on a Military Base
If you are charged with DWI on a military base, like the Fort Dix/McGuire Joint Base, then you will be charged under the Assimilated Crimes Act with the New Jersey DWI statute, N.J.S. 39:4-50. Under the Assimilated Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 13, the federal courts will use State law, when an offense has not been made punishable by an act of Congress. Thus, will follow the state law regarding the requirements (called elements of the offense) needed to satisfy a conviction. To be convicted of a DWI, under the Assimilated Crimes Act, the Assistant United States Attorney, must prove that you were (1) Operating, (2) a Motor Vehicle, while (3) Under the Influence.
If you are convicted of DWI, on a military base in New Jersey, like Lakehurst Naval Base or the Joint Army/Airforce base at Fort Dix/McGuire, then you will be punished:
- First Offense BAC 0.08 to 0.10, an indefinite license suspension until such time as you install an ignition interlock, which is set at three months. You may also face incarceration of up to 30 days in jail.
- First Offense BAC 0.10 to 0.15, indefinite license suspension until such time as you install an ignition interlock, which is set at four to seven months. You may also face incarceration of up to 30 days in jail.
- First Offense, BAC 0.15 or greater, a license suspension for 4 to 6 Months, plus when you get your license back, the installation of an ignition interlock device for 9 to 15 months. You may also face incarceration of up to 30 days in jail.
- First Offense, Drug DWI: A Seven to 12-month license suspension. You may also face incarceration of up to 30 days in jail.
- Second Offense, Drug or Bac 0.08 or greater, a 1 to 2-year suspension, followed by installation of an ignition interlock device for 2 to 4 years. You also face incarceration of 2 to 90 days in jail.
- Third Offense, Drug or Bac 0.08 or greater, an 8-year driver’s license suspension, followed by installation of an ignition interlock device for 2 to 4 years. You also face incarceration 180 days in jail.
The only jail sentence that is mandatory, is for a third offense conviction. A sentence of jail will usually be served in the Monmouth or Burlington County jails.
Possibility of Probation
Besides these penalties, the Federal magistrate might sentence you to probation. If you are sentenced to Reporting Probation, you will be assigned a Probation Officer and be assigned standard terms of probation. This basically requires the probationer to stay out of any trouble. However, with DWI or DUI, you could be given special terms of probation, which require drug testing, and abstaining from further use of drugs and alcohol while on probation.
Another type of probation is “non-reporting probation.” Under this probation, the probationer is assigned to a probation officer, but will only meet with him or her if they get in trouble. No drug testing or
If you are not a United States citizen and are convicted of a DWI or DUI on a military base, you could be subject to deportation. Under 18 U.S.C. 3563(b)(21), the Magistrate Judge may order you be deported from the United States.” This could also be made a condition of probation. However, if you do not agree to be deported (called stipulation), then you may have a notice and hearing before an Immigration Court. Further, if you are ordered to be deported, you will be held in custody by immigration authorities until the hearing occurs.
Like a DWI or DUI on state grounds, a conviction on a military base can lead to certain employment consequences. If you hold a professional license such as a pilot, nurse, doctor, stockbroker, etc., you must report the arrest and any conviction. If you hold a commercial driver’s license, you face a suspension of one year for a first offense and a lifetime suspension of your commercial license for your second conviction.
Federal Law Applies
If you are charged with DWI on a Lakehurst Naval Base or the Joint Dix/McGuire Base, the court will apply federal Constitution law, procedural law, and the federal rules of evidence. Therefore, the extra protections afforded by the States do not apply. It is important to have a lawyer familiar with these rules before they appear in court to represent you. Most attorneys only practice in State court and are very surprised when they learn that State rules do not control.
Defending Your Military Base DWI or DUI
The federal courts have held the scientific reliability of breath test machines is subject to challenge if they are certified as accurate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This means that your attorney can challenge whether your breath test was reliable, but may not challenge whether a certain make or model is reliable in general. an arrest on a military base for drunk driving or drug driving does have its benefits over state court.
With drunk driving, defense is not available in state court are available in the Federal Magistrate Court. One such defense is retrograde extrapolation, which is the scientific and mathematical process to estimate a person’s BAC at the time of driving. In the context of DUI cases, it is often used to determine whether a driver had a BAC of 0.08 or higher at the actual time of driving based. While this defense is prohibited in New Jersey State Courts it is allowed in the federal courts that hear DWI’s on military bases.
In addition, there is some federal case law that says that Field Sobriety Testing, must be done under National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines. While nor Binding in the federal district courts of New Jersey, it still provides good authority for the court to consider.
Finally, the case law and guidance for the courts on Drug DUI cases are limited. This is a prime opportunity for an experienced Drug DUI attorney to challenge this evidence and convince the court it is not scientifically reliable.
Hire a New Jersey Military Base DWI or DUI Lawyer
If you are facing a charge of DWI or DUI at Lakehurst Naval Base or the Joint Fort Dix/McGuire AFB, the potential consequences can be severe. Having strong legal advocacy, from an experienced expert DWI Defense attorney, is crucial in these circumstances. Attorney Steven W. Hernandez represents people charged with State and federal DWI and DUI charges. Due to the severe consequences, you do not want to take chances with your defense.
You need a lawyer with the experience and skill to protect your rights. Steven W. Hernandez, is a Board Certified DWI/DUI lawyer and has been trained as a Field Sobriety Test Instructor, is a Certified Alcotest Operator (the breathalyzer used on these bases), has been trained in Drug Recognition protocols, and has over 120 hours of Forensic Chemistry training.
Attorney, Steven W. Hernandez will provide you with aggressive representation to beat, mitigate, or possibly eliminate, the penalties associated with your charges. To help ensure your rights, and future are protected, allow a New Jersey Military DWI/DUI lawyer, from our firm, fight for you. To request a free consultation, call us today at 732-286-2700.