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Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers > Blog > DUI > Can You Be Charged with Federal DUI?

Can You Be Charged with Federal DUI?


Driving under the influence (DUI) is normally prosecuted as a state crime. Here in Georgia, absent certain aggravating factors, a first-time DUI is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. Upon conviction, a driver faces a maximum penalty of between 10 days and 12 months in jail, a fine of between $300 and $1,000, at least 20 hours of community service, and a 12-month license suspension.

Drunk Driving in National Parks

But can you be prosecuted for DUI as a federal crime? Yes. While it is less common than state DUI prosecutions, there are certain laws and regulations with respect to drunk driving that can lead to federal criminal prosecution.

Basically, if you are arrested for drunk driving on any property owned by the federal government–such as a national park or a military installation–then federal DUI laws may apply. For example, a DUI in a national park is governed by 36 CFR § 4.23. Like Georgia DUI laws, the regulation states it is a crime to operate or be in physical control of any motor vehicle while “[u]nder the influence of alcohol, or a drug, or drugs, or any combination thereof, to a degree that renders the operator incapable of safe operation.” And in keeping with most state laws, the regulation also defines a “per se” DUI offense if a driver has a measured blood-alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent.

The U.S. Park Police, which oversee law enforcement for the national parks, also have the same right as Georgia law enforcement officers to ask a driver to submit to BAC testing if they have “probable cause” to make a DUI arrest. If the driver refuses to submit to such testing, that refusal may be cited as evidence in a Georgia administrative proceeding to suspend the driver’s license under the state’s “implied consent” law. At the same time, the Park Police cannot force a driver to submit to testing absent a search warrant or certain exigent (emergency) circumstances.

Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers Today

Outside of the national parks, most DUI cases on federal land are subject to 18 USC § 13. This statute “assimilates” state DUI laws for purposes of federal jurisdiction. In other words, if you are arrested on federal land in Georgia, the federal government may prosecute you under the same rules as Georgia’s DUI statutes. The statute does, however, provide for prison time “in addition to” whatever is required by state DUI laws. For a simple DUI, the law permits a federal judge to sentence the defendant to up to 1 additional year in prison.

So if you have been arrested or charged with DUI on federal property, it is important that you seek out qualified legal representation. Our experienced DeKalb County DUI lawyers are here to help. Contact Hawkins Spizman Trial Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Georgia including Atlanta, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Cobb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs.



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