Robert W. Davis, Jr.,
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What you should know about a federal DUI charge

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | Federal Criminal Defense |

In most cases, when someone is arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), it’s a state charge. There are some cases, however, where a person can be charged with a federal DUI. 

It’s important to know what that is if you work on or plan to visit a federal property. It’s also crucial to understand some details about the federal law itself

Where can you be charged with a federal DUI?

 A good thing to keep in mind is that there are millions of acres of land controlled by the federal government across the country. Any time you’re driving or even parked on federal property, you could be subject to a federal charge for operating or “being in actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. 

Federal properties include (but certainly aren’t limited to):

  • Federal courthouses
  • Military bases
  • National forests and parks
  • Historic grounds and monuments

If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is determined to be at least .08%, you’re considered over the legal limit under federal law, just as you would be under Mississippi state law. 

It’s important to note, however, that federal law can be superseded by state law. The law says that “if State law…establishes more restrictive limits of alcohol concentration in the operator’s blood or breath, those limits supersede the limits specified.” For example, minors are subject to far lower limits than adults. 

What are the penalties?

Typically, a first-time DUI on federal property is a misdemeanor charge. Of course, depending on the circumstances and any prior DUIs, the charges can be more serious. Further, if a servicemember is arrested for DUI on a military base, they can face additional charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). 

What if you refuse to take a breath or other test?

“Implied consent” laws apply when drivers are suspected of driving under the influence on federal property. Therefore, if you refuse to take a breath or any type of chemical test, you can face consequences like the suspension of your driving privileges. Further, “proof of refusal may be admissible in any related judicial proceeding.” If you’re facing a federal DUI charge, it’s crucial to get experienced legal guidance to protect your rights and work to mitigate the consequences on your future.


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