No Military Immunity

A Pennsylvania National Guardsman recently tried without suc- cess to avoid criminal liability for driving under the influence by claiming that he was immune from arrest.

Pennsylvania law provides that officers and enlisted military service members cannot be arrested “except for treason or felony” while they are “going to, remaining at or returning from” any place of military duty. This immunity has been extended to all military personnel, including members of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The guardsman was arrested for DUI and failure to wear his seatbelt after he was observed swerving his car back and forth across the center yellow line of the road in the early morning hours. He was not in uniform and was on his way home from a local bar. He was, however, on “active duty,” in that he was currently a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The court rejected the guardsman’s claim to immunity from arrest, noting that the immunity granted by Pennsylvania law to military personnel is not a blanket protection for everyone on active duty. Instead, it only immunizes military personnel who are actually going to or from some military obligation.

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