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Impaired Driving Restrictions on Federal Property

In an Executive Memorandum, issued on March 3, 1998, President Clinton directed the Secretary of Transportation to develop a plan that promotes the adoption of a .08 BAC legal limit. In particular, the memorandum directed the Secretary to consider in his plan setting, enforcing and publicizing a .08 BAC standard on Federal property (specifically in national parks and on Department of Defense installations) and encouraging Tribal governments to adopt, enforce and publicize a .08 BAC standard on highways in Indian Country that are subject to their jurisdiction.

National Parks

The National Park Service (NPS), Department of the Interior (DOI), is authorized to establish rules and regulations governing the use and management of parks, monuments and reservations under its jurisdiction. 16 U.S.C. 3.

Legal Limit Tester

Under this authority, NPS has issued vehicle and traffic regulations. 36 CFR Part 4. Subsection 4.23(a)(2) of these regulations establishes .10 BAC as the per se legal limit for drivers who operate a vehicle on roadways or in parking areas within all park areas that are open to public traffic and that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.

The regulation provides further that, “if state law ... establishes more restrictive limits of alcohol concentration in the operator’s blood or breath, those limits supersede the limits specified in this paragraph.” In other words, in park areas in states that have established .08 BAC as the legal limit, drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher. In all other park areas (including those in states that have not adopted a per se statute), drivers are currently subject to the .10 BAC per se requirement.

Pursuant to the Presidential directive dated March 3, 1998, NHTSA has worked with NPS to promote the adoption of a national .08 BAC legal limit. In accordance with the directive, NPS has initiated plans to conduct rule making to amend its regulation to lower the legal limit in park areas from .10 BAC to .08 BAC.

Department of Defense Installations

The Department of Defense (DoD) has jurisdiction over DoD installations. 10 U.S.C. 113; 30112(g).

Under this authority, DoD has issued DoD Directive 101.7 establishing DoD policy regarding drunk and drugged driving. Under the Directive, which applies to and must be implemented by all DoD services, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .10 or higher on a military installation or in an area where traffic operations are under military supervision. This policy has been adopted in 32 CFR Part 634.

Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .10 is a violation also under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), 10 U.S.C. § 911, and the consequences of such a violation by DoD personnel are extremely severe. In addition to losing driving privileges, personnel can be disciplined, by non judicial punishment or court martial. Punishments can involve loss of pay, demotions, correctional custody and even confinement, if appropriate. Such a violation can end the career of an officer.

DoD Directive 5525.4 governs traffic laws and regulations applicable to any individual who operates a vehicle on a DoD installation by assimilating state laws.

Pursuant to the Presidential directive dated March 3, 1998, NHTSA has worked with DoD to promote the adoption of a national .08 BAC legal limit. In accordance with the directive, DoD has initiated plans to amend all applicable DoD Directives and regulations to lower the legal limit on DoD installations from .10 BAC to .08 BAC. In addition, DoD’s Joint Service Committee on Military Justice has initiated plans to propose that the legal limit in the UCMJ be lowered from .10 BAC to .08 BAC. This would require Congressional action.

Other Federal Properties

There are other Federal agencies that administer and have Federal law enforcement jurisdiction over additional types of Federal property. For example, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of the Interior (DOI), has jurisdiction over public lands in the United States and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Department of Agriculture (USDA), has jurisdiction over National Forest System lands.

Pursuant to the Presidential directive dated March 3, 1998, NHTSA has worked with the BLM and the USFS to determine whether a national .08 BAC legal limit should be adopted for the Federal properties they administer and over which they have Federal law enforcement jurisdiction.

There are conditions, however, that apply to these Federal properties that are different from those that apply to national parks and DoD installations, and some of these conditions make it impractical to adopt a national BAC legal limit that is different from the legal limit established by state law.

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