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Understanding Federal DUI Charges


Driving under the influence is an offense that is taken quite seriously in the United States of America. This is because driving under the influence causes numerous accidents that result in injuries and death. To reduce the number of drunk driving-related accidents injuring people and claiming people’s lives, state governments and the federal government have enacted strict DUI laws. Although, the offense of driving under the influence is usually charged at the state level, it can also be charged at the federal level. And, if convicted of a federal DUI, you risk facing much harsher consequences than someone convicted of a state DUI.

Understanding Federal DUI Charges

The federal DUI law makes it illegal for a driver to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more. However, suppose the state law that applies to operating a vehicle while under the influence establishes more restrictive limits of alcohol concentration in the driver’s blood. In that case, those limits supersede the federal limits. Also, driving a vehicle under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs is against federal law.

The first difference between a state DUI and a federal DUI is the land a driver was driving on at the time. A state DUI charge arises when a motorist is found driving a vehicle under the influence on state land. In contrast, a federal DUI charge arises when a motorist is found driving a vehicle under the influence on land that belongs to the federal government. Examples of federal land include places such as national parks and military bases. Also, an individual may face a federal DUI charge if the offense involves other federal property.

Another difference between a state DUI charge and a federal DUI charge is the court that handles the charges. Your case will be heard in a state criminal court if charged with a state DUI. On the other hand, if charged with a federal DUI, your case will be heard in a federal criminal court. Military members charged with a DUI on the federal level are also tried in federal court.

Federal DUI cases involve a procedure that is quite similar to that involved in a state DUI case. However, to defend yourself against a federal DUI, you might need stronger evidence than you would in state court. If convicted of a federal DUI, the court might impose penalties based on state law or case law, but when these penalties don’t apply, the law considers a DUI a Class B misdemeanor. Therefore, this means that if you are found guilty of a federal DUI, you risk spending up to 6 months in federal jail and paying a monetary fine of $5,000.

Most DUI charges are tried at the state level. Typically, states have more jurisdiction over traffic and moving offenses than the federal government. However, after getting arrested for DUI, you might be shocked to learn that you’re facing federal DUI charges. If charged with a DUI at the federal level, ensure you reach out to a skilled federal criminal defense attorney for help.

Contact an NYC-based Criminal Attorney

Our skilled and dedicated NYC criminal defense attorney, Mark I. Cohen, can help you if you are facing state or federal DUI charges. Contact us at 212-732-0002 to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.



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