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Refusing a DUI blood test on federal land could lead to jail time

We have discussed South Carolina's implied consent law on multiple occasions. The basic idea behind this law is that people who drive on South Carolina roads are essentially agreeing to comply with the demands of law enforcement to take a breath test for alcohol when pulled over. Failure to do so is considered a violation of state law and can result in license suspension.

Although readers might have some familiarity with the state law, the same might not be said about federal law. Even though drunk driving laws are generally made and enforced on the state level, there are still some federal laws relating to driving under the influence that apply in certain situations.

According to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle, it's a crime to refuse a blood test for alcohol on federal land. This law applies people who are driving on federal property and are pulled over under suspicion of DUI. Failing to comply with the demands of law enforcement in this situation could result in a six month jail sentence. It's important to note that this charge can be pushed even if a person isn't convicted for drunk driving.

This law was at the center of a recent criminal case. A man was pulled over by a ranger at Yosemite National Park and refused to submit to a blood test. During the stop, the ranger continually advised the man of California's implied consent laws, but failed to mention the federal law. As a result of this, the federal court threw out the federal refusal charge, because the accused man was misled by the ranger.

Unfortunately, many people might be taken off guard by this particular statute and associated consequences. If someone is driving in a national park or national forest, the refusal law applies. As such, people deserve to understand their rights and legal obligations during and after a traffic stop for DUI -- no matter where it occurs.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "DUI: It's a crime to refuse blood test on U.S. land," Bob Egelko, April 18, 2014

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