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Driving Under the Influence Can Violate Federal Law

December 31, 2010, by The McKellar Law Firm, PLLC

Most people view Driving Under the Influence (DUI) as a state crime, and for the majority of cases, it is. However, a DUI violation which occurs on federal land, such as a national park or reserve, will be governed by federal law, particularly 36 C.F.R. 4.23.


This section of the Code of Federal Regulations specifically prohibits operating or being in control of a motor vehicle while: (1) 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 (2) The alcohol concentration in the operator's blood or breath is 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Violation of federal DUI law is considered a class B misdemeanor and is punishable as follows:
1. Up to 6 months in federal penitentiary [18 U.S.C. Sec. 3559(a)(7)]
2. Fine not to exceed $5,000 [18 U.S.C. Sec. 3571(a) and (b)]
3. Up to 5 years on probation [18 U.S.C. Sec. 3561]

Additionally, and as with State DUI violations, there may be additional penalties for a federal DUI conviction, such as revocation of a defendant's driver's license by the Tennessee Dept. of Safety, potential enhancement of penalties for future DUI violations, and possible vehicle forfeiture.