Photo Information

These cautionary signs are everywhere throughout the Combat Center, promoting safe and sober arrival to the base.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Regina N. Ortiz

Combat Center sets new costly, broader punishments for drunk drivers

10 Mar 2006 | Lance Cpl. Regina N. Ortiz

Ladies and gentlemen of the Combat Center, beware: the Provost Marshal’s Office is buckling down on traffic violators.

No longer will traffic law violators aboard the base be protected by the gates. There will be a new Combat Center Order in effect Wednesday that will open communication wires between the California Department of Motor Vehicles and PMO, said Staff Sgt. Michael J. Stahl, Combat Center’s accident investigation chief.

With 158 drunk driving violations committed by Combat Center personnel in 2005, PMO felt it was time to make heavier consequences, said Stahl.

With the new order becoming effective, violators of not only drunk driving, but a few other traffic offenses, will face base and state penalties.

A tow truck will be called to take possession of a vehicle driven by a person who is drunk driving, reckless driving, driving with a base or state suspension, or anyone who is wanted for a hit-and-run accident, explained Stahl.

The tow companies in Twentynine Palms charge $150 to take vehicles out of the impound lot, $30 per day while the vehicle is in the lot and a $75 gate fee to get vehicles after hours. The tow companies are closed on weekends.

If apprehended on base, the military police will report driving under the influence violations to the California DMV, where they are required to report the incident to the violator’s insurance company. Insurance can be raised 400 percent, if the violator is even able to keep insurance. The offense will affect insurance premiums for three years after the incident, said Capt. James P. Dollard, deputy provost marshal.

First time DUI offenders will face penalties from the county court and the DMV.
In court, the offender is charged a $1,200 fine, three years probation, three to five days community service, three to six months in first-time offenders’ school and a 90-day license restriction following the DMV’s license suspension for the offense.

The DMV will suspend the license while the violator is awaiting court hearings. After the drunk driver is convicted, the DMV suspends the license for four months, and then restricts the license for five months following the suspension. A restricted license only allows the driver to drive to and from work.

For more on the California DUI law, log on to

Current penalties from PMO are also still in effect. A one-year suspension of driving privileges is incurred, as well as punishment under the service member’s command’s discretion, said Dollard.

“This new order will make DUIs a more costly and negative effect on one’s record,” said Stahl. “Our intent is to eliminate drunk driving on and off base.”

In the past, any traffic offense made on base was kept on base, not having any effect on a military member’s civilian driver’s license or insurance policy. This will not be true after Wednesday.

“We hope to deter any Combat Center personnel from even considering driving after consuming alcohol,” said Dollard.

“They used to say ‘when you’re on base, you’re safe,’” he continued. “Meaning the punishment for drunk drivers wasn’t too effective. But now, no drunk driver is safe.”
Headquarters Marine Corps