Kansas City Criminal Defense Lawyers
Is It Possible to be Charged with a Federal DUI?

Is It Possible to be Charged with a Federal DUI?

You might know that you can be charged with a state crime for driving while intoxicated. But did you also know that you can be charged with a federal offense for engaging in such behavior? You can. And that's because the U.S. Government has laws in place that make drunk driving unlawful when a person is on federal property.

If you're found guilty of a federal DUI, the penalties you could face depend on where the offense occurred. Regardless, a conviction can have severe impacts on your life.

When Does a DUI Become a Federal Offense?

In the U.S., there are state crimes, and there are federal ones. State crimes are offenses that occur within the state's borders and violate the state's laws. In most instances, a DUI will fall under this jurisdiction.

Federal crimes are offenses committed on property or land owned by the U.S. Government.

Federal property includes:

  • National parks
  • National forests
  • Military bases
  • Post offices
  • Federal courts
  • Federal buildings

Thus, if you are caught drinking and driving around such areas, you could be charged with a federal DUI.

What Are the Federal DUI Laws?

The specific law that applies when someone is accused of a federal DUI depends on where the alleged offense took place. For drinking and driving that occurred in a national park, forest or conservation area, Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) will apply.

36 C.F.R. § 4.23 provides that a person commits an offense when they operate or are in physical control of a vehicle within a park area while they:

  • Are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and cannot safely drive their car; or
  • Have a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more

The law also provides that if a state has a more restrictive BAC level, that limit will apply.

A conviction for a first-time federal DUI is punishable by:

  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • A federal prison term of up to 6 months
  • A term of probation for up to 5 years

For a DUI that occurs on federal property other than a state park, the Federal Assimilative Crimes Act will apply. This act provides that if the U.S. government doesn't have a specific law prohibiting certain conduct on federal property, it can prosecute the matter under state laws. Thus, if you are on federal land when you are suspected of drinking and driving, Kansas's DUI law will apply.

Similar to the federal DUI law for state parks, Kansas's provides that it's illegal for a person to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher or when they are incapable of driving safely because of alcohol and/or drug intoxication.

The conviction penalties for a DUI under Kansas law include:

  • Driver's license suspension for 30 days
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • A minimum jail term of 48 hours

Federal Implied Consent Law

When a motorist is suspected of driving under the influence, they may be subject to a chemical test to measure the amount of alcohol in their system. Federal law states that when a person operates a vehicle on federal land, they have given implied consent to provide a sample for the chemical test if they've been arrested for DUI and the officer has probable cause to believe they are under the influence. A refusal can result in the loss of driving privileges for 1 year. It can also be used as evidence in the criminal case.

If you've been accused of a federal crime, our Kansas City lawyers are here to guide you through your case. Call Stein Law, LLC at (913) 583-0465 or contact us online today.


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