Federal DUI Charges
Columbus GA DUI Lawyer Mark Jones Discusses Federal Law Concerning Driving Under the Influence Accusations.
Introduction to Federalism:
Nearly every driving under the influence (DUI) charge involving a federal military installation such as Fort Benning, Georgia will have a very interesting legal situation concerning the applicable law concerning when you receive Federal DUI charges. The situation is this: federal law will “assimilate” state law to essentially create a federal crime where there is no federal criminal law on point on that issue. So, since there is no federal DUI law, DUI offenses that occur on post or at a federal enclave will be “assimilated” under the the Assimilative Claims Act to create a federal crime where there was none.
To the founders, the states were supposed to be laboratories to conduct social and economic experiments. This is what Colorado has done with the legalization of marijuana. The states functioning as laboratories is a conservative value based in federalism and the Tenth Amendment, which reserved to the states the majority of day-to-day governance pursuant to the police power.
As Justice Brandeis noted in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262, 311 (1932), “It is one of the happy accidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory, and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
So what does this mean for a soldier or other individual who has been cited with DUI on post or at a military installation?
1. You Can Still be Charged with a DUI or State-Based Crime on Post
Just because federal law does not have a DUI statute per se, that does not mean that you can commit a DUI offense at a federal military installation. The Assimilative Claims Act will bar the state-based criminal conduct on post. That act provides:
“Whoever within or upon any of the places now existing or hereafter reserved or acquired . . ., is guilty of an act or omission which, although not made punishable by any enactment of Congress, would be punishable if committed or omitted within the jurisdiction of the State . . . in which such place is situated, by the laws thereof in force at the time of such act or omission, shall be guilty of a like offense and subject to a like punishment.” U.S. v. Hapney, CR208-10 (S.D. Ga. 2008). Thus, you will still be subject to a DUI if you drive drunk on post.
2. Federal Law Does Not Provide Many State-Based Procedural Protections When You Are Charged with a DUI
When you are charged with a DUI on post, federal law only assimilates the elements of the state-based crime plus the punishments. If the state system has additional procedural rules that might protect the accused, the federal court may very well not incorporate those procedural rules if there is a conflict with federal law. See United States v. Garner, 874 F.2d 1510 (11th Cir. 1989). This has the nasty effect of doing away with some very important protections that a defense attorney would normally use to protect you in state court. In the implied consent warning context, for example, Georgia has very strict requirements regarding the precise warning to be read, as well as an advisement concerning your right to an independent test. If these implied procedures are not complied with at the state level, the Court should suppress your chemical test results. Not so at the federal level due to a very vague implied consent statute. 18 USC 3118. At least, that is what the Southern District of Georgia held.
3. The Best Bet is Still to Not Drink and Drive
Save yourself the trouble of this procedural morass and quite a bit of money too. Simply don’t drink and drive.
Under the Federal Assimilative Crimes Act, federal law makes a state-based crime a federal offense by incorporating the elements and punishments associated with the state-based criminal conduct. Federal law will not necessarily incorporate beneficial procedural mechanisms that are based on state law if there is a conflict of laws between the two. A federal DUI is a very serious charge that can have devastating impact on your military career, future job prospects, or college admissions. It is important that you hire an attorney well-versed in the intricacies of federal law concerning a DUI charge. Contact Lawyer Mark Jones today for a free consultation regarding your DUI charges at 706-225-2555, 866-521-MARK (6275) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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