When building a house, or deciding where to go for vacation, it’s all about the location. This also applies for less pleasant things, such as where you’re tried for your DUI charges. Depending on where you get pulled over, you might not have to worry about the state courts as you’ll be sent to federal courts. These places include federal locations such as military bases or roadways like the Washington Baltimore Parkway, and any other place that has a federal jurisdiction such as federal parks. A DUI can have far reaching consequence in your life, this much we all know, but if a state DUI is bad, a federal DUI is worse.

Why you want to avoid Federal Court

It’s important to realize, that if you’re caught driving under the influence being tried in a federal court is an incredibly serious matter. While you might get lucky and the federal court decides to use state laws, it’s not something you should count on. When the federal courts are involved your charges can also be escalated, which has the potential to turn what would be a DUI charge into a felony. While it’s possible to get a job with DUI charges on your record, being a convicted felon makes it close to impossible. Even though it was only having too much to drink and getting behind the wheel, felony offenders carry a stigma that is hard for many potential employers to see beyond.

It gets worse. Not only do you have the potential to be convicted of a felony offense, but insult is added to injury. Federal courts also have a tendency to levy heavier fines, increase jail sentences, restrict, suspend or even revoke your license for longer period of time. All of this to say, you don’t want to find yourself in a federal court, especially not for DUI charges.

What to Do?

It’s important to make sure you know where state jurisdiction ends, and federal jurisdiction begins for your area. This alone can save you a world of trouble. Of course, the better decision is to avoid it all together and use a designated driver, call a cab or just stay home. If you’ve made the choice to drink and drive, are caught in a federal jurisdiction and are facing federal court, then you’re going to need a good attorney. In the best possible scenario, you can win the case, or be acquitted of the charges, which will save your life the world of hurt that a federal DUI charge will bring.

DUI’s aren’t something that are easy to shake off. All it takes is what could honestly be a simple mistake and it could upend your entire life. Fines can be paid off, probation sentences served, but the record that follows you can do even more damage than all of that. Every time you apply for a job or do anything that involves a background check is going to cause these charges to rear their ugly head and cast a shadow over you and your life. Being convicted of a felony means that your life will never be the same. Don’t put yourself in that position.

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.