Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Washington, D.C. A DUI is often people’s first arrest and encounter with the criminal justice system. The most important call you can make after your arrest is to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At S.L. England, PLLC, we are prepared to aggressively defend your future while giving you the best legal advice.
AFTER YOUR DUI ARREST
After you are arrested for DUI, you are taken to one of the seven police districts for processing. You will be fingerprinted and provide a breath sample at this time. If you are arrested on a first offense DUI and your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is below 0.20 percent, you will likely be cited and released. You will be given a date when you have to appear before a judge for your arraignment.
Washington, D.C. has an implied consent law. If you refuse to submit a breath, blood, or urine sample, you will have your driver’s license revoked for one year. If your driver’s license was issued in another state, the revocation only applies to your ability to drive in Washington, D.C., but your state’s DMV may be notified, and you may face penalties there as well.
If you have an urgent medical need while you are at the police station, the police will either treat you at the station with over-the-counter medications or transport you to a hospital. If you are transported to a hospital, you will likely remain there until you can see the judge for your arraignment, usually the next day.
The police have the option of holding you overnight, depending on the circumstances of your arrest. If they choose to do this, the police will transport you to Central Booking. This is where everyone who was arrested waits until they are transported to the court for arraignment. This is a holding area, not a jail.
Central Booking is located at:
300 Indiana Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
At your arraignment, the judge will decide if you can be released on bail or if you must remain incarcerated until your trial. If you cannot post bail, if you are a flight risk, or if you have another pending criminal charge, you will be transported to the Central Detention Facility, where you will remain until your trial.
The Central Detention Facility is located at:
1901 D Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Your DUI case will be prosecuted by the Criminal Section of the Public Safety Division of the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Your pre-trial hearings and your trial will be held at the D.C. Superior Court.
The courthouse is located at:
500 Indiana Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
You are expected to be civil while you are in the courthouse. Disorderly or disruptive behavior is not tolerated at any time, including shouting, arguing, or using aggressive language.
The court does not have a specific dress code, but will remove people from the property who wear clothing that distracts from court proceedings. This includes any gang insignia, exposed undergarments, provocative garments, or sheer clothing. Any clothing with words or pictures that make sexual or drug references or that are obscene or intimidating are also prohibited.
Food is prohibited in all public areas of the courthouse except in the Courts Cafe on the C Street level.
You may not take photographs or make audio recordings of any court proceedings. Electronic devices, including cell phones, tablets, or computers, may not be used in the courtroom.
Smoking tobacco or using electronic smoking devices is permitted outside the courthouse at least 25 feet from an entrance. Using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco inside the courthouse is prohibited at all times.
Weapons, including firearms, knives, tasers, and pepper spray, are not allowed in the courthouse. Anything that can be used as a weapon is also prohibited.
Service animals that meet the criteria set in the Americans with Disabilities Act are welcome.
Any violations of these rules can lead to expulsion from the courthouse, being banned from entering any D.C. court building, or arrest.
Your attorney will notify you of court dates and accompany you to your hearing.
AGGRESSIVE, EXPERIENCED DUI REPRESENTATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
If you have been charged with DUI in Washington, D.C., the most important call you can make is to an experienced DUI attorney who can provide you with aggressive representation. A DUI conviction can carry consequences that extend beyond jail time and fines. At S.L. England, PLLC, our attorneys have the courtroom experience you need to effectively present your case to a judge or jury. We can represent you in any level court. Call (202) 489-0720 or contact us online today.
When someone is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) in Washington D.C., it may seem like there is no way to defend the charges. However, nothing could be further from the truth. There are any number of lines of attack when it comes to challenging a DUI charge. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side can make all the difference.
Of course, not every defense applies to every case. While this blog post discusses various options a defense attorney will consider when examining a criminal case, each case is different. Each case presents its own set of facts from which the attorney works, finding the defense that is right for each individual case. Below are some of the most common DUI defenses.
CHALLENGING THE BASIS OF THE STOP IN DC
The police cannot just stop a car at random to see if the person driving the car has been drinking or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Instead, they must have a legal basis to stop someone who is driving. If, for example, a person is speeding, weaving over the center line, or stopped at a green light, these are all reasons police may legally pull someone over.
However, it is not enough to just review the police reports, looking for a legal basis. Many times, in this day and age, the squad car is equipped with a dash camera. In those cases, a qualified criminal defense attorney will also review the dash camera footage to confirm the alleged driver misconduct actually occurred. If the stop of the car was illegal, any evidence obtained after the stop must be suppressed.
CHALLENGING THE LENGTH OF A TRAFFIC STOP
Once a car is legally pulled over, the police are required to issue any ticket and let the driver get back on the road. They are not allowed to poke around, looking for additional things to ticket someone for. If someone is pulled over for speeding, for example, the police can’t ask a driver to get out of the car and perform field sobriety tests, unless, upon stopping the car and having contact with the driver, they discover some legal basis to ask for the driver to perform such tests.
In each case, a criminal defense attorney will evaluate the information the police had at each step of the encounter. If there is not a legal basis to detain someone beyond the original basis of the stop, all evidence discovered beyond the legal detention must be suppressed.
CHALLENGING THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY
For breath tests, a person is taken to the police station and asked to blow into a machine. However, when police collect blood or urine and send it off for testing, the chain of custody of the sample can be challenged. From the time the fluid leaves the body until the time the test result is obtained and interpreted, the government must be able to establish the identity of each and every person who handled the sample.
In addition, the government must establish the integrity of the sample. In other words, police may not, for example, collect a tube of blood and keep it in the glove box for a few days before bringing the blood tube to a lab for testing. Failure to establish a complete and proper chain of custody can call into question the legitimacy of the sample, and may lead to suppression of the evidence.
CHALLENGING THE TEST RESULTS – COLLECTION
Additionally, the collection process itself is subject to legal challenge. Did the person collecting the blood have the necessary legal qualifications to take blood in this type of situation? Did they use the proper blood tube when collecting the sample? What is the expiration date on the blood tube? Was an alcohol wipe used to clean the skin prior to taking the blood? How was the blood stored between the time of collection and the time of testing?
All of these questions can expose potential problems with sample handling that could result in questions about the integrity of the sample. Without a legally sufficient test result, the government’s DUI case may be compromised to the extent a dismissal is the only legal solution.
CHALLENGING THE TEST RESULTS – INSTRUMENTATION
When someone is charged with DUI, most often there is a test, either of blood, breath, or urine, indicating a blood alcohol concentration. This blood alcohol concentration, (BAC) is used by the government to establish how intoxicated a person was, under the legal standard, where 0.08 is the “legal limit.”
However, the instruments measuring the BAC of blood, breath, or urine, are not magical. Instead, they are instruments that must be properly cared for. They must be maintained within certain standards. For example, the instruments must be calibrated at certain intervals to make certain they are working properly. If the instruments are not properly maintained, the results may not be reliable. In the right case, challenging the test results can lead to a dismissal of the charges.
CHALLENGING THE TEST RESULTS – MARGIN OF ERROR
In every measurement, there is “measurement error” that must be accounted for. All instruments are subject to measurement error, meaning there is a predictable margin of error for each measurement. For example, a blood alcohol test may be accurate, plus or minus 0.01. If a blood alcohol concentration is 0.08, and the margin of error is 0.01, then the test result is more accurately 0.07 – 0.09. Understanding and challenging measurement error can make a difference in certain DUI cases.
EVERY DC DUI CASE IS DIFFERENT
Because every case is different, it is essential that an attorney experienced in DUI cases carefully review the facts and circumstances of each individual case to determine what errors might be present. At S.L. England, PLLC, we know the intricacies of DUI law and we know how to challenge DUI evidence. Contact us today to discuss your needs for legal representation. We are ready to fight for you.