Is drunk driving bound to a national or state law?

By | September 26, 2013

DUI refers to operating or being in control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The potential for complexity in DUI cases may sometimes be great as there is a separate set of laws in federal and state cases, and determining which set of laws is applicable may be difficult and confusing for the average person.

Federal DUI
A federal DUI charge is raised when a person is accused of driving under the influence while on land that is owned by the federal government. National parks and military bases are examples. Federal DUI cases are prosecuted in federal court, and potential sentencing typically depends on an additional set of laws which may be applicable to certain situations in which federal DUIs may occur.

Federal DUI Arrests on National Parkland
Federal DUI arrests that are made in relation to national parks are governed by the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR), under which a person can be charged with a federal DUI if he or she is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol to the extent that he or she is incapable of operating a vehicle or if the person has a blood alcohol content of .10 grams per 100 milliliters of blood. A person can also be arrested and charged for federal DUI if he or she has .10 grams or more of alcohol per 200 liters of breath upon submitting to a breath analysis test. If the person is stopped for suspicion of DUI in a state that has stricter alcohol consumption limits than those outlined by the CFR, the state limit may also be applicable in determining whether or not the driver is over the legal limit for receiving a federal charge. Unlike state DUI cases, refusing to submit to alcohol testing may result in stiffer penalties in federal DUI cases.

Federal DUI Offenses on Other Property
According to the Assimilative Crimes Act, federal DUI offenses that occur on property other than national parks are governed by the laws of the state in which the offense occurs. Those who commit a DUI offense on federal property other than a national park may be subjected to both state and federal sentencing. People who are suspected of DUI on federal land that is not a national park are asked to submit to chemical testing upon arrest.

State DUI
With exception of DUI arrests that occur on federal property, each state has the power to set its own DUI laws. In some states, DUI is limited to cases in which the accused is actually operating the vehicle when in others simply being in control of a vehicle while intoxicated is prohibited. Some states have a DWI charge, which is generally the same as DUI, though there may be slight differences between the two terms. Each state has identified a blood or breath alcohol content thresh hold, which is used to determine whether or not a person is considered to be legally under the influence. Defendants are usually charged with two separate crimes, one for being over the alcohol limit and a second for operating a vehicle while impaired. There is typically a presumption of guilt if a defendant’s alcohol level reaches 0.08 percent or greater.

People who find themselves facing arrest for federal or state DUI should immediately consult a DUI drunk driving attorney. DUI attorneys are trained to assess the validity of all drunk driving charges and to help ensure the rights the accused are respected. A DUI attorney may also be able to determine appropriate legal defenses and help the accused argue his or her case in court if necessary.

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