DUI/DWI on Federal Property
Most people expect certain offenses, such as organized crime, bank robbery, or interstate drug trafficking to fall under the purview of the federal courts. However, few are aware that it is also considered a federal crime to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on federal property. Being charged in federal court has important implications for defendants, who face a potentially severe prison sentence, while a state court conviction might only result in a fine and a brief driver’s license suspension. To ensure that your own case is tried in the proper court, you should consider contacting an experienced federal crime lawyer who can begin working on your defense.
When can a DUI be Charged in Federal Court?
While most DUI offenses are prosecuted in state court, there is an exception for arrests that are made on federal property. In these cases, a defendant can be charged in federal court, although prosecutors will first have to establish that the property on which the defendant committed the offense actually belongs to the government. Federal property can be found all across the U.S., but the most common examples include:
- Military bases;
- National monuments;
- Historic grounds;
- Courthouses and surrounding property;
- National parks;
- Airports; and
- Any federal building or lot.
When operating a vehicle on this type of property, a person can be charged with a federal DUI, but only if:
- He or she was impaired by illegal drugs, alcohol, or prescription drugs; or
- He or she was driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Most first time DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, although the statute under which they are charged will depend on where the arrest actually took place. If, for instance, someone was arrested while driving under the influence of alcohol in a national park, he or she would be charged pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations. If, on the other hand, the offense occurred on another type of federal property, the driver can expect to be tried under the laws of that state through the Assimilative Crimes Act, which is a federal law that allows a defendant to be charged according to the law of the state in which the federal land is located. However, regardless of the severity of the state law, defendants who are convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on federal property face additional penalties, including imprisonment for up to a year. In the event that a minor was present in the car at the time of the offense and was injured as a result, the prison sentence could be increased to five years.
Contact Our Federal Crime Legal Team Today
If you are facing DUI charges after being arrested on federal land, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible about formulating a defense. Please call dedicated Miami federal crime lawyer Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at 305-670-9919 to start working on your own case today.