When Is a DWI/DUI a Federal Crime?

Federal Drunk Driving Charges in Texas

In most cases, a person charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) will face criminal charges through the State. However, you could face federal charges for driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) if you are arrested on federal property.

You could face federal DUI/DWI charges if you are arrested on any of the following federal lands:

  • National parks
  • Military bases
  • Native American tribal-owned land
  • National forests
  • Parking lots adjacent to federal buildings and airports

Penalties for a Federal DUI

A federal prosecutor will seek charges for driving under the influence based on the specific property where you were arrested. For instance, if you are arrested on suspicion of Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a national park, you can be charged under 36 CFR 4.23. According to this section of the Code of Federal Regulations, it is unlawful to operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while:

  • “Under the influence of alcohol, or a drug, or drugs, or any combination thereof, to a degree that renders the operator incapable of safe operation; or
  • The alcohol concentration in the operator’s blood or breath is 0.08 or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.”

The Code of Federal Regulations also indicates that if a state’s laws are more restrictive than the federal code, they will supersede.

If you are convicted of a first-offense federal DUI, you could face a fine up to $5,000, up to six (6) months in federal prison and federal probation. In contrast, a first offense DUI/DWI on the state level is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and three to 180 days in jail.

While most first offense federal drunk driving charges are misdemeanors, aggravating factors can make them a felony. The most common aggravating circumstances are when there is an injury or death related to the drunk driving charges.

Hiring a Federal DWI Attorney in Texas

It is essential to know that federal charges for driving while intoxicated are not the same as state charges. If you are arrested for a Federal DWI in Texas, you will be ordered to appear at a federal courthouse and subject to federal court procedures.

If you retain an attorney that is unfamiliar with the federal process, you may not get the best possible outcome in your case. You need a knowledgeable Federal DWI Attorney who can help you fight for your rights and your freedom.

Attorney James Alston is a former state and federal prosecutor that can help you challenge the charges and keep you out of jail. Contact the Law Offices of James Alston today to schedule a consultation at (713) 228-1400.