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All About DUI on Federal Property in DC

Explore the intricacies of facing a DUI on Federal Property in DC, and learn how our seasoned DC-DUI Lawyer can provide the legal aid you require in such complex scenarios.

What if You Get a Federal DUI Charge in DC

Oftentimes, people get charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) at the state level. However, under certain circumstances, you can be charged with a DUI at the federal level. DUI becomes a federal crime when it happens on a property under federal jurisdiction or owned by the federal government. Getting a federal DUI conviction in DC can result in more severe consequences.

This article will provide more information on the legal implications of federal DUI laws and their impact on you.

Understanding DUI on Federal Property in DC

Certain areas in DC are federal property and, therefore, have federal protection. If you are arrested for DUI in these areas, you may face charges in federal court. Some examples of federal land or property in DC include:

  • Airports and airfields, such as Washington Reagan National Airport
  • Cemeteries, such as Arlington National Cemetery
  • Federal courts and surrounding areas
  • Historical and national monuments
  • Military bases
  • National parks and forests
  • Parking lots and driveways

Although there are no specific federal DUI statutes in the U.S., the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs) and the Assimilative Crimes Act cover DUI on federal property. The Assimilative Crimes Act makes DC DUI laws applicable to crimes committed on all federal property except national parks. For DUI committed in national parks, the National Park Service laws, specifically 36 CFR 4.23, apply.

According to 36 CFR 4.23, you may be charged with a federal DUI offense if:

  • You drive your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a level that makes you incapable of safely operating it.
  • The alcohol concentration in your blood is .08% or more or 250μg/L breath or more.
  • The alcohol concentration in your blood or breath supersedes the limit established by state laws.

Under the implied consent law, You can also be charged with a federal DUI if you refuse to submit a blood alcohol content (BAC) test after being stopped by law enforcement on federal property.

The DC Code is strict when it comes to DUI. It prohibits you from driving a car while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your BAC is .08% or higher, you are presumed to be driving while intoxicated. It does not matter if you are still able to safely operate the vehicle after getting intoxicated.

DC has a zero-tolerance alcohol policy for underage drivers (persons under twenty-one). Many people see underage drinking on college campuses as having fun. However, getting behind the wheel after drinking may result in an arrest.

Penalties and Consequences for Federal DUI

The penalties for a federal DUI conviction may vary depending on the circumstances of your case, the location of the offense, and your previous DUI history. 

For a federal DUI violation under 36 CFR 4.23, the following penalties may be imposed:

  • Fines: Upon conviction, the federal court may order that you pay a fine of up to $5,000, depending on the severity of your offense.

  • Imprisonment: For a first offense, a federal DUI conviction may result in a six-month jail sentence. However, repeat offenders may face a longer sentence.

  • Ignition interlock device (IID): In certain cases, the federal court may require you to install an IID on your vehicle. This device will measure your breath alcohol and prevent your vehicle from starting if it exceeds the limit.

  • License suspension: A federal DUI conviction may result in the revocation or suspension of your license.

  • Probation: The federal court may place you on probation, and may be required to complete regular check-ins with a probation officer.

For a federal DUI violation prosecuted under DC laws, you can expect a maximum jail time of 180 days, up to $1,000 in fines, or both. Exceeding a BAC limit of .2% will lead to mandatory jail time minimums.

Impact on Personal and Professional Life

Federal DUI convictions can wreak havoc on your financial, personal, and professional life. A conviction for a DUI will stay on your criminal record permanently, as DUI is among the few misdemeanors not eligible for expungement in DC. With a criminal record, you will surely have trouble finding or keeping a job or obtaining loans.

If your license is suspended, it could affect your day-to-day activities, including your work commutes or taking your children to school. Additionally, if your job involves using vehicles (e.g., commercial drivers), a license suspension could mean the loss of your job. Commercial drivers in DC are held to a higher standard of care. Therefore, commercial DUI penalties may result in additional consequences.

Most auto insurance companies will check the points on your license before issuing or renewing your insurance policy. They may increase your insurance premiums after discovering your federal DUI conviction.

Legal Procedures Post-DUI Offense Arrest

Booking and First Court Appearance

If you are caught driving under the influence on federal property, you may be arrested by a local or federal law enforcement officer or park ranger. A federal DUI is considered a criminal offense, and the officer will most likely book you and bring you before a local or federal judge for an initial hearing. At this hearing, you will be informed about your charges and your legal rights.

Court Procedures

An arraignment marks the beginning of criminal prosecution for your federal DUI offense. At this hearing, you must enter a guilty or not guilty plea. If you plead guilty, the case will proceed to sentencing, but if you plead not guilty, it will proceed to trial. Before the trial, both parties (the local or federal prosecutor and your attorney) may file pretrial motions or attempt to reach a plea agreement.

Where no plea agreement is reached, the case will proceed to trial. The federal or local judge will determine your guilt based on the evidence provided by both parties. If they find you guilty, they will issue an appropriate sentence for your DUI offense.

Contact Scrofano Law for Experienced Representation

Facing a federal DUI in DC charge can be confusing, but with the help of an experienced DC DUI lawyer, you can improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case. Our legal team at Scrofano Law, PC, has handled several federal DUI cases and has what it takes to get you the results you anticipate.

We are familiar with local federal criminal laws and regulations and can provide the necessary representation to fight your charges. Our attorneys have been defending DC residents for decades, so rest assured that your case is in safe hands.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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