Most people are only aware of DUIs as state offenses. However, drivers should realize that it is possible to be arrested, tried and convicted of a federal DUI. This happens when an offense that involves driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs occurs on property that is owned or controlled by the US government. A federal DUI is handled in much the same way as a state offense. One major difference is that the matter will be heard in a federal court. Therefore, a conviction will be recorded on a person's federal criminal record.
Differences in Federal DUIs
Federal DUIs are divided into two categories, which are determined by the location where the offense occurred. When the charge results from an incident on property that is under the authority of the National Park Service, the case is subject to the Code of Federal Regulation. According to the code, a conviction is a class B misdemeanor. A person can be ordered to pay up to $5,000 in fines and sentenced to six months of incarceration. Five years of probation may also be imposed. If the offense occurs on other federal lands, there are no federal laws to directly address it. However, this doesn't mean that the matter is overlooked. The federal court will apply the laws of the state where the arrest occurred.
When a person is suspected of drunk driving, he will be asked to take a test to determine his blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This testing is not optional. If a driver refuses, he will be charged with a crime in addition to the DUI. Substance testing is subject to implied consent law, which states that a person automatically agrees to take a test when asked if he drives in the jurisdiction where the law exists. If the individual is found guilty of violating the implied consent law, he will be convicted of a misdemeanor and subject to penalties such as suspension of driving privileges on federal lands for one year, fines and perhaps a jail sentence.
A federal DUI is not a matter to be taken lightly. Being convicted can have serious effects, such as preventing you from getting a security clearance or certain types of government jobs. Instead of allowing this to happen, you should work with an experienced attorney to develop a strategic defense. When selecting an attorney to represent you, remember that you must choose one who has been admitted to the federal bar.