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DUI / DWI

federal DUI

A person commits a federal DUI criminal offense by operating a vehicle on property owned the federal government while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 36 C.F.R. § 4.23. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs includes (1) influence of alcohol or drugs that makes the operator incapable of safe operation of the vehicle or (2) a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more.

A person driving on federal property is also subject to any DUI/DWI laws of the state in which the federal property is located to the extent the state laws are more strict than the federal DUI law—such as a state law that makes it a criminal offense for a person under the age of 21 to operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol or drugs in the person’s system, or a state law that makes it a criminal offense for the operator of a commercial vehicle to have a BAC of .04 or greater.

Federal properties on which a driver may be subject to a federal DUI charge include: (1) national parks and conservation areas; (2) national forests; (3) military bases; (4) Native American reservations; (5) some airports; (6) post offices; (7) federal courts; and (8) federal government buildings.

Under federal law a person operating a vehicle on federal property gives implied consent to a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine if arrested for a federal DUI and if the arresting police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol in violation of federal or applicable state law. See 18 U.S.C. §3118. Refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in the suspension of the defendant’s privilege to drive on federal property for one year—and the refusal may be admitted in evidence against the defendant in the prosecution for DUI.

National park rangers and other federal officers who arrest a person for federal DUI may confiscate the driver’s license and send it to the state department of motor vehicles that issued the license. And if the driver does not request an administrative hearing with the state’s department of motor vehicles within days (deadlines vary from state to state) the driver’s license will be automatically suspended, as with a state DUI/DWI charge.

In Texas, a person commits a federal DUI offense if they operate a vehicle on federal property with a BAC of .08 or more, or if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that they are incapable of safe operation. Federal properties include national parks, military bases, and other government-owned lands. Texas DUI laws also apply on federal lands within the state, and if Texas law is stricter, such as zero tolerance for drivers under 21 or lower BAC limits for commercial drivers, those laws will be enforced. Under federal law, drivers on federal property have given implied consent to chemical testing if arrested for DUI, and refusal can lead to a one-year driving ban on federal property and the evidence of refusal can be used in court. Federal officers can confiscate a driver's license, which may be suspended if the driver does not request an administrative hearing with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles within the state's specified deadline.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

36 C.F.R. § 4.23 - Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs
This regulation is relevant as it defines the federal offense of operating a vehicle under the influence on federal lands, such as national parks.

Under 36 C.F.R. § 4.23, it is a federal offense to operate a motor vehicle on federal lands while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An individual is considered under the influence if they are incapable of safe operation or have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more. This regulation applies to all federal lands managed by the National Park Service and serves as a baseline for DUI offenses on federal property.

18 U.S.C. § 3118 - Implied consent for certain tests
This statute is relevant as it outlines the implied consent given by drivers on federal property to undergo chemical testing if suspected of DUI.

According to 18 U.S.C. § 3118, any person who operates a motor vehicle on lands under federal jurisdiction is deemed to have given consent to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine to determine drug or alcohol content if arrested for a DUI offense. If a driver refuses to submit to testing, their driving privileges on federal lands can be suspended for one year. Additionally, the refusal can be used as evidence in a DUI prosecution. This statute ensures that federal officers have the authority to conduct chemical tests to enforce DUI laws on federal property.

Assimilative Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 13)
This act allows federal authorities to enforce state criminal laws on federal lands when there is no applicable federal statute.

The Assimilative Crimes Act (18 U.S.C. § 13) permits the application of state criminal laws to conduct occurring on federal lands when there is no equivalent federal law. In the context of DUI, if a state law provides stricter regulations than federal law (e.g., lower BAC limits for commercial drivers or zero tolerance for drivers under 21), those state laws can be enforced on federal lands. This act ensures that federal lands are not havens for conduct that would be criminal under state law.