Georgia offers a number of national parks, trails, and monuments. Georgia's citizens can enjoy camping, hiking, and exploring these recreation areas across the state. These parks, trails, and monuments include the following.
- The Appalachian Trail
- Arabia Mountain
- Augusta Canal
- Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
- Cumberland Island
- Fort Frederica
- Fort Oglethorpe (Chickamauga & Chattanooga)
- Fort Pulaski
- Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
- Martin Luther King, Jr. National Park
- Ocmulgee National Monument
- The Trail of Tears
If you get charged with driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) in any of these parks, trails, or monuments, you will find yourself charged in federal court rather than state court. There are similarities and differences between a DUI in federal court as opposed to state court.
How Federal DUI Charges are Different
Federal DUI charges are different than state DUI charges for the same conduct in a number of different ways. First, in a federal DUI case, you are not entitled to a trial before a judge. Instead, your case will be heard by a magistrate. Second, in a federal DUI case, you are not entitled to a trial before a jury. Unlike in state court where you can demand a jury trial that requires a unanimous verdict, in federal court a single person--the magistrate overseeing the case--will make a determination about whether or not the government has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
While it may seem obvious, it must be said: a DUI charged on federal land is a federal crime. In addition to having your case heard in federal court rather than state court, you need to hire an attorney that is licensed in federal court, which is not the same as an attorney who is licensed in state court. While an attorney can be licensed in both federal and state court, not all attorneys are licensed in both federal and state court. This is something that an individual should ask about when looking to hire a defense attorney.
Finally, unlike in state court, a magistrate in federal court may punish someone more severely if they take their case to trial rather than enter a plea of guilty before trial.
How Federal Charges are the Same as State DUI Charges
There are many ways that federal charges are the same in both federal and state courts. First, the conduct that can result in federal DUI charges is nearly identical to the conduct that can result in state DUI charges. This conduct includes the following.
- Driving a motor vehicle or being in physical control of a motor vehicle.
- Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or more or being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs which leaves them unable to safely drive.
- Being on federal land.
- Refusing to submit to BAC testing is also charged as a DUI-type crime on federal laws.
Driving a Motor Vehicle
In order to be charged with DUI for driving while under the influence, the federal government needs very little proof of driving. Some people think if they are just driving a little bit, like backing the truck up at the boat launch to pull the boat out of the water, they won't be charged with a DUI. Unfortunately, this is not correct information, and a failure to appreciate this can result in DUI charges. Any amount of driving is sufficient to result in a DUI charge.
Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle
Not only can even a small amount of driving result in a DUI charge if the other elements have been met, not driving can also result in DUI charges. Sometimes referred to as a “parked car DUI,” a person who has physical control of a motor vehicle and is under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be charged with a federal DUI if on federal park land. If you are sleeping in your SUV and have the keys in your possession, for example, and are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be charged with a DUI. Similarly, if you turn on the car to listen to the radio, or use the headlights to illuminate the campsite, and you are under the influence, you can be charged with physical control of a motor vehicle DUI.
Refusing to Test
Even if you haven't had a drop to drink and haven't ingested any drugs, if a federal park law enforcement employee asks you to submit to a test to determine your blood alcohol level, refusing to do so will result in DUI charges. This is due to implied consent laws on the books in both federal and state courts.
What Happens After a DUI Conviction?
If someone is convicted of a DUI in federal court, or if they plead guilty to a federal DUI, they can face up to six months in a federal jail. Fines can be as high as $5,000.
If You Are Facing a DUI Charge on Federal Property
If you are facing DUI charges on federal property, you need a DUI attorney that understands the ins and outs of federal court, as well as the finer points of DUI defense. From challenging the stop of your car to litigating the sufficiency of the evidence to examining the instrumentation maintenance logs to reviewing the analyst's interpretation of the test results, our Gainesville DUI lawyers leave no stone unturned. Contact the firm run by a former DUI prosecutor. We will make certain your rights are protected every step of the way. Contact our office for a free consultation. Call today at 404.816.4440. We answer our phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week.