A get-tough policy on drunken drivers at the Quantico Marine Corps base backfired, and a federal judge has tossed out five DWI cases against Marines after ruling that their constitutional rights were violated, The Associated Press reported.
At any other military installation, a servicemember charged with drunken driving would be prosecuted through either a civilian court or through the military justice system, not through both. However, Quantico pursued a unique "dual prosecution" where Marines were asked to waive their right to a court-martial and accept nonjudicial punishment instead so that they could be prosecuted in a federal court without double jeopardy occurring.
A Quantico spokesman told AP the system was designed to ensure that Marines and civilians faced equivalent consequences for driving drunk on the installation and that DWIs incurred on the base would show up on the Marines' civilian driving records.
But the judge said the Marines were not provided adequate legal advice about the consequences of accepting an NJP, accorrding to the AP. As a result, the compound punishments were much harsher than what a civilian or other servicemembers would receive.
The base is changing its policy as a result of the judge's decision, AP said.