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When Can You Face Federal DUI Charges?

November 30, 2022 – David W. Foley – Sex Crimes

Most drunk driving charges are state charges. Each state has their own laws for driving under the influence. However, most people don’t realize that there are times when a driver can face a federal DUI charge.

While most federal crimes can occur anywhere, to be charged with a DUI as a federal crime, you must have been driving on land owned by the federal government or anywhere that is federal property.

Some examples of federal property

There are millions of acres of federally owned property in the U.S. Your first thought may be of national parks and forests. Those are examples. There are many other types of federal property, including:

  • Military bases
  • National monuments
  • Historic grounds (for example, Rim Rock Drive here in Colorado)
  • Federal courthouses

A DUI on a road or in a parking lot at any of these locations or on any other property owned by the U.S. Government would likely be a federal DUI.

What kind of federal property you’re on makes a difference

The laws under which a person charged with a federal DUI is tried depend on the location where the alleged offense occurred. A person arrested for DUI in a national park is charged under the federal code. If they’re arrested on any other type of federal property, they’re charged according to the laws of the state where the arrest occurred.

Just as in every state, you can be charged with a federal DUI if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above. Of course, there are times when you may not even need to test that high to face DUI charges. Further, those driving on federal property are subject to “implied consent” laws, which means they can face penalties for refusing any kind of chemical test, like a Breathalyzer-type test.

This is just a brief outline of when you might face a federal DUI charge. There’s a lot more to know if you’re facing one. It’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance to protect your rights.

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