DUI Penalties in Washington, D.C.

There are a number of consequences a driver can face if convicted of an alcohol-related driving offense in the District of Columbia. These consequences can vary based on the amount of alcohol one has in their system, as well as the number of prior alcohol-related convictions. Penalties generally increase with prior offenses, which makes it is a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney. An experienced DC drunk driving lawyer can review the evidence and help you fight against a criminal conviction.

When considering the penalties associated with an alcohol-related offense, it is important to know that the maximum penalties are just that – the maximum potential penalties. Most people do not end up serving the maximum amount of jail time for an alcohol-related offense. However, depending on the circumstances, there may be minimum amounts of jail time required by statute for a DWI or DUI in Washington D.C.

PENALTIES FOR DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED (DWI) AND DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI) – FINES AND JAIL TIME

The crime of DWI or DUI occurs in the District of Columbia if an individual:

  • Operates or is in physical control of any vehicle while intoxicated, or
  • Operates or is in physical control of any vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of drugs and alcohol.

“Physical control” involves conduct such as sitting in a parked car, with the keys in the ignition, listening to the radio in the driveway. It can also include sleeping in a car with the keys in the ignition. It may even include being in the car with the car keys in one’s pocket.

DWI or DUIFineMaximum Jail TimeMinimum Jail Time:0.20 grams / ml blood or 210 liters breath or .25 grams / 100 ml urineMinimum Jail Time: 0.25 grams / ml blood or 210 liters breath or .32 grams / 100 ml urineMinimum Jail Time:0.30 grams / ml blood or 210 liters breath or .39 grams / 100 ml urineMinimum Jail Time if blood or urine contains a Schedule 1 chemical or controlled substance
First Offense$1,000180 days10 days mandatory minimum15 days mandatory minimum20 days mandatory minimum15 days mandatory minimum
1 Prior OffenseNot less than $2,500 or more than $5,0001 year, with a 10 day mandatory minimum15 days mandatory minimum20 days mandatory minimum25 days mandatory minimum20 days mandatory minimum
2 or More Prior OffensesNot less than $2500 or more than $10,0001 year, with a 15 day mandatory minimum20 days mandatory minimum25 days mandatory minimum30 days mandatory minimum25 days mandatory minimum
3 or More Prior OffensesUp to $10,000An additional 30 day mandatory minimum term of incarceration for each additional violation    

The consequences for a DUI conviction include a fine, or jail time, or both a fine and jail time.

DC PENALTIES FOR DWI AND DUI – LICENSE SUSPENSION

In certain circumstances, one may lose their driving privileges as a consequence of a DUI conviction. Under the DC Code, when a person with two prior DUI, DWI, or OWI offenses within the past five years is sentenced on a subsequent DUI or DWI, they will lose their driver’s license and their privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the District will be revoked.

The driver’s license revocation lasts for five years. At that time, a person may apply for reinstatement of their driving privileges, however, reinstatement is not automatic. Instead, the Department is only required to agree to driver’s license reinstatement upon a showing of good cause to do so. This may also require paying all fines and fees and other conditions to get your license to drive.

PENALTIES FOR OPERATING WHILE IMPAIRED (OWI)– FINES AND JAIL TIME

The crime of operating a vehicle while impaired is committed when someone drives or is physical control of a vehicle while their ability to drive or be in physical control of the car is impaired either by the consumption of alcohol, or the ingestion of drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol

The penalties for OWI vary based on whether the person has prior offenses for operating while impaired or driving while impaired or driving under the influence. 

OWIFineJail Time
First Offense$50090 days
Second OffenseNot less than $1,000 or more than $2500Not more than 1 year, with a 5-day mandatory minimum term of incarceration
Third OffenseNot less than $1,000 or more than $5000Not more than 1 year, with a 10-day mandatory minimum term of incarceration

PENALTIES FOR OWI – LICENSE SUSPENSION

As with DUI and DWI, when a person has two prior offenses within the past five years, and are sentenced on a third offense their driving privileges will be revoked for at least five years. Reinstatement is not automatic. Rather, it is only for good cause shown.

UNDERSTANDING “PRIORS” FOR ALCOHOL-RELATED OFFENSES

In determining the number of prior offenses one has for sentencing purposes, OWI, DWI, and DUI all count the same, as prior offenses.

IF YOU ARE FACING CRIMINAL CHARGES DUE TO AN ALCOHOL-RELATED OFFENSE IN WASHINGTON D.C.

If you are facing criminal charges due to an alcohol-related offense, you need experienced legal counsel. Alcohol-related charges can be challenged in court under a variety of different legal theories. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Basis for the stop of the vehicle
  • Legality of the request for one to participate in roadside testing
  • Validity of the test result
  • Accuracy of the testing
  • Chain of custody for a blood or urine sample
  • Validity of the conclusions
  • Reliability of the instrumentation used to test for the presence of alcohol or drugs

Each and every decision made by the government, along with each and every conclusion drawn, is subject to legal challenge. Contact S.L. England, PLLC today to review the facts and circumstances of your case. We will meet with you to review the evidence, the charges, and explore possible defenses you may have. Contact us today.

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