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When can a DUI result in a federal charge?

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | DUI and DWAI Charges |

Most people who are arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) deal with their charge in state court and state DUI laws apply accordingly. If your arrest was on federal land or property, however, you can be charged with a federal DUI.

There are a number of places where people may visit for recreation or need to go where federal law applies – particularly here in Colorado.

Where can you get a federal DUI?

The federal government controls millions of acres of land throughout the U.S. If you drive or park anywhere on this land and are arrested for suspicion of drunk or drugged driving, you can be charged under federal law. Colorado is home to numerous national parks, forests and monuments that are on federal land. It’s also home to military bases. Federal courthouses are also on federal land. These are just some examples of places where you could potentially be cited for a federal DUI.

What should you know about federal DUI law?

Just as under Colorado law, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at least .08%, you’re over the legal limit under federal law. The law also 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.” Minors, for example, have much lower limits than adults under Colorado law.

What criminal consequences could you face for a federal DUI?

Generally, a first-time DUI is charged as a misdemeanor. Depending on the circumstances, it can potentially be a harsher charge. Additionally, military servicemembers arrested for DUI on a military base can face additional penalties under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Another important thing to know is that “implied consent” laws apply on federal property. That means that someone who refuses to take a breath or chemical test post-arrest can face consequences like the suspension of driving privileges whether they were under the influence or not.

If you’re facing a federal DUI charge, it’s understandable that it’s daunting to have to deal with the federal justice system. That’s why getting experienced legal guidance is a solid first step forward.