Federal DUI Laws And How They Can Effect You

Federal DUI laws are tough and they are strictly enforced in Federal courts, with serious consequences.

Did you think that only state DUI laws were the only laws on the books?  Think again. President Clinton signed Federal DUI laws into existence in 2000. These laws complement state DUI laws and apply to drunk drivers on all federal lands throughout the United States. These include all military bases, national parks, Federal land where outdoor enthusiasts drive off-road vehicles and much more.

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, these laws pressured states change their DUI laws if necessary to make a blood alcohol content level of .08 the limit for determining driving under the influence. For failing to adopt the suggested limit of .08, states risked losing a part of their Federal highway funds for maintaining highways in their states.

Federal DUI Limits

The current allowable blood alcohol content level when operating a motor vehicle on Federal land is .08, the same level the law pressured states to adopt. This is the equivalent of .08 grams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or 210 liters of breath.

The second type of Federal DUI laws you may want to be aware of are the “zero tolerance” laws for underage drinkers. The current legal drinking age on Federal property is 21. A person under this age who has a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .001 can be arrested and charged with a Federal misdemeanor.

If you think you’re safe on Federal land, even way out on the trails, you might be mistaken. Federal authorities regularly patrol National Parks, Lakeshores, Battle Ground Parks, etc. They may even set up check points during busy summer holiday seasons to identify drunk drivers when drinking and driving is more common.

And agents on ATVs patrol popular off-roading trails throughout Federal land looking for those who are operating motorized vehicle under the influence and over the limit.

Testing for DUI on Federal Land

Similar testing to that used by state and local law enforcement is used when there is a suspicion that Federal DUI laws have been broken.  Possible tests include field sobriety tests (FSTs) that can take many forms. Some of the most common are reciting the alphabet, but contrary to urban myth, you won’t be asked to recite it backward since sober people can find that difficult to do. Other FSTs are the heel to toe walk, standing on one leg, eye-tracking an object, fingertip to tip of nose, counting backward or standing still with your eyes closed and your head back for 30 seconds.

At any point, a breathalyzer test might be requested from a device known as a portable breath tester, or PBT. If a driver refuses a PBT test, then he or she will most likely be arrested and later given an actual blood alcohol test involving a blood draw.

Penalties for Breaking Federal DUI Laws

If you are charged with driving under the influence on Federal land, your case will be handled in Federal court by Federal prosecutors. Penalties are quite stiff for drunk drivers on federal land. For a first or second offense, the penalties typically include fines up to $5,000, the loss of, or serious restrictions on, a driver’s license for 3-6 months and possible jail time. Of course, if the driver is a member of the military or a Federal employee, addition and severe penalties might also be imposed. If there is an injury accident involved, penalties are even tougher, usually including significant jail time.

Hiring an Attorney Familiar with Federal DUI Laws

If you get charged with drunk driving on Federal land, you’ll want an experienced, skilled attorney working for you. This is a serious charge with significant consequences and it simply doesn’t make sense to go it alone.

A competent DUI attorney with experience with cases on Federal land will be able to advise you about your rights and your best strategy for reducing the consequences. They will also know how to have the charges dismissed when the facts warrant dismissal – and they often do.

Most DUI lawyers with a good reputation are familiar with Federal DUI laws and will represent you in this serious matter. Don’t even consider facing Federal penalties without quality legal representation by your side.