Why am I in federal court for a DUI?

Unlike most driving under the influence (DUI) cases, which are prosecuted in local state courts, arrests that take place on land owned by the federal government are prosecuted in federal court.  And Mississippi is blessed with a very nice expanse of federal land that stretches across our state, that being the Natchez Trace.  This is not your normal DUI . . .

You can be tried for a DUI in federal court in two different ways.  First, if you are arrested on land that is governed by the National Park Service, you would be tried under the Code of Federal Regulations (federal law).  Under the Code of Federal Regulations, drunk-driving in a national park is a Class B misdemeanor, and punishment can include up to six months in a federal penitentiary and a fine of up to $5,000.  You also can be placed on probation for up to five years.  Second, if you are arrested on any other type of federal property, you could be charged in federal court using Mississippi state laws and penalties through the Assimilative Crimes Act.

The process for a federal DUI charge is similar to the state DUI process, in that if you are pulled over for driving under the influence on federal property, you will be asked to take a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) to measure your blood alcohol concentration.  If you refuse, you will automatically be arrested for a DUI, and stand to get your driving privileges suspended.  If you get convicted for a federal DUI, you can be sentenced to a federal penitentiary or prison, and you fines, probation, DUI School, and loss of the right to drive on federal property.  Depending on the circumstances and severity of your case you may also face additional penalties.

If you receive a DUI on the Trace, or any other federal property, give me a call.  I will look over the facts of your federal DUI charges and do my best to put together a winning defense on your behalf to obtain the best possible outcome.

[Clarence has been the Criminal Justice Act Panel Representative for the Southern District of Mississippi for the past two years.  He is in federal court frequently, representing those accused of federal crimes from the smallest misdemeanors to large drug conspiracies, white collar investigations, and violent crimes.]