It can. The most common way in which a DUI in Washington can result in a federal offense is if you were driving under the influence on federal property (for example, a U.S. military installation). A DUI under federal law is most often charged as a misdemeanor and can result in time in federal prison. If you or a loved one is facing federal charges of DUI/DWI, please contact an experienced federal attorney/DUI lawyer now for assistance.
Is a DUI Ever Charged Under Federal Law?
Yes. You can face federal DUI charges if you were caught driving under the influence on federal property. “Federal property” is essentially property under the jurisdiction of the federal government or a federal agency. Note that the definition of “driving under the influence” under federal law is largely the same as that found under Washington DUI laws.
36 CFR 4.23 is the federal statute that sets forth the main federal law on driving under the influence. According to this state, you are guilty of DUI if you operate or are in control of a motor vehicle and either:
- Are under the influence of alcohol, or a drug, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, or
- Have a BAC of 0.08% or greater.
Note that you are generally “under the influence” if you can no longer operate a vehicle in the same manner as a sober and cautious person under the same circumstances.
What are the Penalties?
In some cases, a federal court may impose a sentence based on a particular state’s DUI laws. If not, then federal law will apply. Under federal law, a DUI is generally a Class B misdemeanor punishable by:
- Custody in federal prison for up to six months,
- Federal probation, and/or
- A maximum fine of $5,000.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Yes. You have the right to challenge a federal DUI charge by raising a legal defense. A few common defenses include a defense attorney showing that:
- You were not driving on federal property,
- You were not “under the influence,” and
- You were not driving the car or in control of it.
You can also try and construct a defense based on some sort of action or inaction of a police officer. For example, a defense lawyer can show that the police:
- Arrested you without probable cause,
- Made an error in administering or interpreting field sobriety tests, and
- Administered a breath test erroneously.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a federal DUI charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on federal charges, including federal DUI charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will also fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!