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What You Should Know about Federal Charges for DUI

What You Should Know about Federal Charges for DUI

What You Should Know about Federal Charges for DUIDriving while impaired or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in all 50 states of the union. Each state has its own DUI/DWI laws. However, federal DUI laws and penalties also exist. If you are arrested for driving under the influence on federal property, you may face federal DUI charges. This crime occurs on federal property or property under federal jurisdiction, and is thus treated separately under federal law.

Most commonly, federal DUI occurs on the premises of national parks and military bases. However, this offense can also occur at national monuments, post offices, certain airports, parking lots located on federal land, and government compounds. A federal DUI conviction can leave you with significant legal and social consequences long into the future.

Federal DUI BAC criteria

A person driving on federal land and under impairment by alcohol with a blood-alcohol content of either .08 g of alcohol per 100 mL of blood, or .08 g of alcohol per 200 L of breath can face a federal DUI charge.

The National Park Service defines the commission of a DUI offense as a driver:

  • Who is rendered incapable of safely operating a vehicle
  • With a BAC of .08 percent or greater, or
  • With a BAC that is greater than the limit established by state law, if the state’s DUI limit is more stringent.

Basis of prosecution for federal DUI

The location of a DUI offense determines how a driver is charged and prosecuted. DUIs occurring on National Park Service lands are prosecuted and tried according to the Code of Federal Regulations. DUIs occurring on other federal property are charged and prosecuted according to the DUI laws and penalties of the state of Tennessee (or the state in which the offense occurred) in accordance with the federal Assimilated Crimes Act. One significant difference with a state prosecution is that, under federal law, one accused of a DUI only has the right to a trial by judge.  There is no right to a jury trial in federal DUI cases.

National Park Service laws impose severe penalties for DUI. As a Class B misdemeanor, these penalties include:

  • Maximum of six months in jail
  • Maximum fine of $5000
  • Maximum probation of five years

Arrests that occur on federal land outside of National Park Service land or military bases are prosecuted according to state statutes.

Refusing a chemical test under federal law

People who drive on federal lands are automatically included under implied consent law. This means you must submit to a blood, breath, or urine test for the determination of your blood-alcohol content if arrested or under suspicion of DUI. Refusing to submit to a chemical test after a lawful DUI arrest is a misdemeanor under federal law. Conviction will result in possibly six months in federal prison and a steep fine. As well, you may lose your driving privileges on federal lands for one year from the date of arrest.

Members of the military who are arrested for DUI on a military base are prosecuted in federal court. Military personnel face additional consequences beyond standard criminal penalties. Some of these consequences may include a letter of reprimand, a rank demotion, or dismissal from the service.

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, military members are prohibited from being in physical control of, or operating any vehicle, vessel, or aircraft when their BAC equals or exceeds the limit according to the Code. The Code also prohibits military personnel from being in control over or operating vehicles, vessels, or aircraft while under impairment by a controlled substance.

Facing a federal DUI charge is a serious matter. Your freedom and future opportunities in life regarding education and certain careers are also at stake. If you are in legal jeopardy due to a federal DUI charge, our experienced attorneys at Delius & McKenzie, PLLC can mount an intelligent and strong defense on your behalf. We are ready to serve your legal needs in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, or Seymour. To set up a free consultation appointment, call us today at 865-428-8780 or send us an email through our contact form.

Related DUI Resources

DUI Checkpoints in Tennessee: What’s Legal, and What’s Not

Big Changes in Tennessee’s Implied Consent Law Just Took Effect

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