When Does a DUI Become a Federal Crime?

Posted on in DUI

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe offense of driving under the influence is typically a state charge, meaning a person will be tried in state court and if convicted, possibly have to serve time in state prison. There are times when these offenses are charged and tried at the federal level. The penalties associated with a conviction of any federal offense are typically much harsher than sentences in state court. It is for this reason that it is particularly important that anyone facing federal DUI charges speaks to a federal criminal defense lawyer that can help.

What Is a Federal DUI Charge?

According to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, a federal DUI offense occurs when a motorist drives a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood. The federal statute also dictates that if the offense occurs within a state that has more restrictive laws, state law will supersede federal law.

A DUI charge is considered a federal offense when a motorist is found driving under the influence on federal land. Federal land can include places such as national parks, national monuments, post offices, airports, and military bases. The most common locations for federal DUI charges are national parks and military bases.

Special Considerations for Federal DUI Charges

State and federal DUI charges have many similarities, however, anyone facing federal charges will be tried in the U.S. Federal District Court of the state in which they allegedly drove drunk. Members of the military charged with a federal DUI are also tried in federal court.

The process of a federal DUI trial is very similar to a state trial. The defendant will appear at an arraignment and is given the opportunity to raise their defenses to the charges. A trial is held, during which witnesses and possibly the accused are questioned and both sides may submit evidence. After all arguments are heard, a jury will determine whether or not the defendant is guilty.

Penalties for a Federal DUI Conviction

There is one other main difference between state and federal DUI charges. In some instances, the penalties for a conviction will defer to case law and state law, meaning those penalties may apply. However, when those penalties do not apply, the U.S. Code categorizes a DUI as a Class B misdemeanor. As such, many convicted of a DUI at the federal level will face up to six months in federal prison, an additional five years of federal probation, and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Facing Charges? Call Our Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Many people that are arrested for a DUI are later shocked to hear that they are facing federal charges, which can make the entire situation even more frightening. If you have been charged with a federal DUI, our skilled Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can help. Attorney Garfinkel understands the defenses to raise to give you the best chance of having your charges dropped or reduced. Call us today at 312-629-0669 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.


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