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    What is a Federal DUI in California?

    Posted on: May 4th, 2020 by Dod Law

    Charges on federal landBeing pulled over and investigated for DUI is a frightening experience that can lead to stiff consequences. A DUI charge can have many lasting effects and impacts your life immediately. There are several types of DUI charges you may face in California depending on the circumstances, but one of the most severe is a federal DUI charge.

    When you’re arrested for DUI in California you can face mandatory penalties, including the loss of your driving privileges. There are harsh penalties for DUI, but a DUI which occurs on federal property may incur federal charges, which may lead to more serious penalties.

    Getting a DUI on Federal Property in California

    In most DUI cases, defendants face state law prosecution and penalties. If you’re arrested for DUI on state property, your license may be suspended and you may spend time in county jail. If you are convicted, you may be sentenced to:

    • Up to six months in jail
    • DUI school
    • Fines

    The judge may also use his or her discretion to sentence you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for a first DUI, but an IID is required for a minimum of one year upon a second DUI conviction. 

    Alcohol-related charges are serious and should be challenged by an experienced DUI attorney, but the stakes could be higher when you face a federal DUI charge. A federal DUI is one that occurs on federal property, which includes many more places than you might think. A driver could wind up on federal land or property all over California’s major cities and by some of the state’s most popular attractions.

    National Park property is federal property, and a DUI on National Park property invokes the Code of Federal Regulations. On other federal property, federal law would apply California penalties for driving under the influence.

    What is Federal Property in California?

    There are federal buildings and parking lots, land, and roads that a driver may find himself in while under the influence. Examples of federal property in California include:

    • National Parks & Forests
    • National Historic Places
    • Military Bases
    • Federal Government Buildings
    • Federal Courthouses
    • Post Offices
    • Airports
    • Native American Tribal Land

    California is known for its bounty of natural resources, and thousands of people travel to the state each year to visit its many scenic parks. Some of the most popular of these parks are National Parks, which are considered federal property. They include:

    • Death Valley National Park
    • Yosemite National Park
    • Joshua Tree National Park
    • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
    • Redwood National Park
    • Lassen Volcanic National Park

    Being arrested for DUI in any of the above areas in San Diego or elsewhere in California may lead to a federal DUI charge.

    What Happens if I Refuse a Breath Test on Federal Property?

    Due to implied consent in California, you must submit to a breath, blood, or urine test after you’re arrested for DUI. Under state law, refusing a chemical test may lead to enhanced penalties; however, under federal law, refusing to submit to a chemical test is a separate misdemeanor offense. 

    Federal vs. State DUI Trial and Penalties

    One of the key differences between a state and federal DUI charge is that if you were arrested for DUI on federal property, you will be prosecuted by a U.S. District Attorney in a federal courthouse. Instead, the DUI trial will take place before a panel of federal judges instead of a jury of your peers. Although a federal DUI is punishable by a jail sentence, it’s considered a minor offense.

    The U.S. Code provides that crimes like DUI, which occur on federal lands, be enforced as federal law while applying state laws. This also allows penalties for federal DUIs to reflect state DUI penalties. But, if your DUI occurred in a National Park, fines may reach up to $5,000 for a first-time DUI. 

    Additionally, any jail sentence for a DUI on federal land must be served in federal prison, whereas a state DUI charge may be served locally. This is something to consider, as a federal prison may be hundreds of miles away from your relatives and friends.

    Federal DUI Defense in San Diego 

    Securing an experienced San Diego DUI Lawyer after a DUI arrest is critical, whether you face state or federal charges. Attorney Dod of Dod Law has been serving people accused of DUI in San Diego for more than 17 years and is knowledgeable about all aspects of DUI law. He can help educate you on your charges and review all the evidence available to present a strong defense. 

    Dod has handled more than 6,500 cases, including 75 jury trials, and can be a significant asset to your DUI case. Don’t hesitate to take action against a federal DUI charge in San Diego. Call (619) 814-5110 for a free consultation with Attorney Dod today, or complete our contact form!


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