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What is a federal DUI and where can you get one?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | DUI/DWI

A lot of people don’t realize that a DUI charge can be a federal rather than a state one. There are many places here in New Jersey and throughout the country where if you’re suspected of being under the influence while behind the wheel, you could be charged with a federal offense.

New Jersey has a number of national parks and other federal lands that are popular with tourists and locals. A DUI on in any of these places is a federal charge. The same is true in any of the national parks, forests and trails belonging to the National Park Service throughout the country. The same is true for the land around national monuments and historic grounds.

You can get be charged with a federal DUI if you’re suspected of drunk or drugged driving on federal properties (including roads), such as:

  • Federal courthouses
  • Military bases and installations
  • Post offices
  • Some airports

It’s important to note that all federal properties follow the “implied consent” doctrine. That means if you refuse to take a breath or chemical test post-arrest, your driver’s license could be suspended whether you were under the influence or not.

How does federal DUI law differ from state law?

There’s really not much difference between most state and federal DUI charges. Under federal law, you can be charged with DUI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at least .08%, which is the same as nearly every state. Federal law, however, 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.” That would apply if a minor were arrested since they have zero or near-zero limits under state law throughout the country.

Typically, a first-time federal DUI is treated as a misdemeanor, unless there are special circumstances like having children in the vehicle. Further, if you’re charged with a federal DUI, you have to deal with federal court and potentially federal prison.

If you’re facing a federal DUI charge, don’t try to deal with the federal justice system on your own. It’s important to get experienced legal guidance as soon as possible due to all that is at stake and the complexities of the situation itself.