Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious traffic offense no matter where it occurs in New Jersey, but if the infraction is committed on federal property such as national parks or military bases like Fort Dix, it has different legal authorities and penalties if convicted.
In normal situations, a DWI case will be prosecuted in New Jersey Municipal Court. In the event that the DWI occurs on federal property, however, the prosecution will take place in a federal court. There are differences between a federal trial and a New Jersey state trial. These differences must be understood when a person is arrested and prosecuted for a traffic violation such as DWI. Similar to under New Jersey state law, while driving drunk on federal land, a driver doesn’t have the right to refuse to take a DWI test. If such a refusal is made, this can lead to additional refusal charges being filed.
Locations Where a Federal DWI can be Charged
Depending on where the arrest was made will determine the location of the trial. If, for example, a person is arrested for DWI in a national park, the National Park Service are the ones making the arrest. DWI in a national park is a Class B misdemeanor and leaves the driver vulnerable to six months in federal jail plus fines that could reach a high as $5,000. If the DWI arrest is made while the defendant is driving on federal lands not under the National Park Service, such as a military base, the state law is applied but additional penalties may apply.
Some locations in which a person can be charged with a federal DWI in New Jersey including the following: the Naval Air Station at Lakehurst; Fort Dix; Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook; Naval Weapons Station Earle; and Picatinny Arsenal. Each of these locations has law enforcement that will handle the dispensing of tickets, deal with other legal issues and can make a DWI stop and arrest. If a person is charged with a federal DWI, he or she will be tried in federal court in one of four locations: Trenton, Newark, Fort Dix or Fort Monmouth.
What is the Difference Between a Federal DWI and a State DWI?
If an individual is arrested and convicted for a DWI on federal land, it will be recorded on the person’s federal criminal record. The only chance to have the conviction expunged is if there is a pardon provided by the President of the United States. With a state conviction, the long-term consequences, while serious, are less likely to affect the person’s life over the long-term as a federal conviction might. If there is a federal DWI on a person’s record, he or she may not be able to pass background checks to get certain federal jobs. A federal trial has no jury. Therefore, a case of DWI will be heard and decided by a federal magistrate.
Speak to an Experienced DWI Attorney About Your Federal DWI
Have you or a loved one been arrested and charged with DWI or refusal on federal land in New Jersey? If so, you must be aware of the differences between a federal trial and a state trial. In order to protect yourself or your loved one, you should hire an experienced drunk driving lawyer of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey.
Because federal laws differ from state laws, you should have legal assistance that is familiar with the landscape of federal courtrooms. With the consequences so significant for a federal DWI conviction—half-a-year in jail and thousands of dollars in fines—you must protect your interests by finding the right attorney. Call Villani & DeLuca today for a free consultation about your federal DWI charge.