DC DUI FAQs
We're constantly updating our website for information clients typically want to know. Here's our latest FAQ's on DUIs in Washington, DC.
What is a DUI?
Driving while intoxicated (DWI), or driving under the influence (DUI) are all ways to describe the same thing: intoxicated driving. Intoxication may be the result of alcohol or another chemical substance (e.g., marijuana) or both. To be convicted of a DUI in Washington, DC, the prosecution will try to show that your blood alcohol was above the legal limit, that you have an illegal chemical substance in your system, or your driving abilities were otherwise impaired.
In Washington, DC, there are many arrests made daily for intoxicated driving. Those arrested are often people like you and me: law-abiding citizens. At S.L. England, PLLC, we fight to beat DUI charges or to, at a minimum, get the best possible outcome in your unique situation. Contact us at (202) 489-0720 to learn more about how we will help you. In the meantime, here are some of the most commonly asked questions we get from our clients when we first meet them about their intoxicated driving charge.
What is “blood alcohol content” level?
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol found in the blood expressed as a percentage. It is calculated in grams per 210 liters of breath, and a BAC of 0.08 means there is 0.08% alcohol by volume. Measuring BAC is a way for law enforcement to calculate the amount of alcohol someone has had and their ability to drive a motor vehicle.
What are my rights during DUI traffic stops?
If you are pulled over due to suspicion of drunk driving or pulled over for a traffic stop and then the police officer suspects intoxicated driving, you should remember you have certain rights as a U.S. citizen. Namely,
- The driver and any passengers have the right to remain silent (except you must show the police your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance upon request); and
- If you are a passenger, you are free to leave.
If you are arrested or detained, you have additional rights, including Miranda warnings.
- You can say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately.
- You have the right to make a local phone call.
If you believe your rights were violated in any way, try to write down everything you remember, including the police officer's agency (state police, county police, etc.), badge number, and patrol car number.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer test in Washington, DC?
YES!!! You absolutely can refuse a breathalyzer test. Should you? That's a different question. If you refuse a breathalyzer, the police will probably give you what's called a Notice of Proposed Revocation ("NOPR"). Basically, this is a pink slip that requires you to schedule a hearing at the DMV to determine whether your privilege to drive in the District should be revoked. This is a totally separate case than the DUI case, so you'll be fighting on two fronts if you get an NOPR. The police can give you a NOPR even if you blow, so there's no guarantee that blowing will help you avoid a case in front of a DMV judge.
Keep in mind that you can also refuse blood or urine testing in Washington, DC. Unlike in Virginia, refusal does not get charged as a separate offense in the criminal case.
What are standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs)?
Standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs) are tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests are allegedly designed to help police determine whether a driver is intoxicated or not.
There are three standardized FSTs:
- the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN test)
- the One-Leg Stand Test (OLS test)
- the Walk-and-Turn Test
The results of these tests may be used as evidence against you in an intoxicated driving case. Non-standardized tests, on the other hand, are not validated by NHTSA and are typically not admissible as evidence.
Non-standardized FSTs include:
- finger to nose test
- the finger count test
- the hand pat test
- the alphabet test
- the reverse counting test
- the coin pickup test
Can I refuse field sobriety tests in Washington, DC?
YES! There is no law that says you have to follow a pen with your eye or stand on one leg, which is what police try to make you do during field sobriety tests.
After a DUI arrest in Washington, DC, will my driver's license be suspended or revoked?
Maybe. In DC, suspension or revocation is typically up to the DMV and not the Courts. But of course if we beat your case then there should be no suspension.
What happens after a drunk driving arrest in Washington, DC?
Typically, the police will "citation release" you. That means that you will be arrested, booked, and let go within a few hours. Sometimes police will hold you
Can I still get auto insurance in Washington, DC after a drunk driving conviction?
You will likely find insurance after a first conviction, although your rates may increase significantly. Subsequent offenses get a little trickier. Most insurance companies offer SR-22 insurance.
Shouldn't I Just Plead Guilty to drunk driving?
We wouldn't, and in DC, judges typically don't allow it. First you go to arraignment. An arraignment is a hearing where the defendant can plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. It's hard to imagine why you would want a private attorney to walk into court and say you're guilty right off the bat. We know a DUI charge can be stressful, but giving up without demanding the government meets its obligations is just not how we do things.
Do I need a drunk driving lawyer in Washington, DC to win my DUI case?
If you plan to fight your drunk driving charges, it is in your best interest to have an attorney represent you. The law can be complex. The evidence can be highly technical and scientific. Police and state expert testimony can be damaging. All these things can lead to a conviction, unless you have the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully counter them. Most alleged DUI offenders do not have that kind of knowledge and skills.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney in Washington, DC Today
At S.L. England, PLLC, we know the law and the technical, scientific make-up of field sobriety tests, blood tests, breath tests, and urine tests. We also know how to identify and proactively address any constitutional rights violations to benefit your case. Contact our DUI defense lawyer in Washington, DC today at (202) 489-0720 to schedule a free consultation and get honest advice on your best legal options.