DC DUI Lawyer

The term “driving under the influence” often conjures disturbing images of vehicles driving erratically, swerving wildly across lanes, but the truth is that most DUI traffic stops are far less dramatic. In fact, most DUI arrests come after a stop for a minor traffic violation. Rather than being significantly inebriated, many drivers arrested for DUI simply fail to realize just how few drinks it takes to put someone over the legal limit.

With that said, if you have never been in trouble with the law, a first offense DUI arrest can be frightening and confusing. If you are facing a second, third, or subsequent DUI offense, you know the impact a conviction may have on your life. For these reasons, it is important to make sure that you understand the severity of the offense and consult with a DC DUI lawyer to assist in guiding you through the legal process. To learn more or discuss the steps that may be involved in defending your rights, call and schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney today.

DUI Laws in DC

There are three serious charges that can be issued in the District of Columbia for drunk driving: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated (OWI). If an individual has been charged and convicted of any of these three drunk driving violations a DC DUI attorney should be contacted immediately as consequences may include:

  • Jail time
  • Loss of driving privileges/suspended driver’s license
  • Substantial fines
  • Higher insurance premiums
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Permanent blemish on criminal record

It is important that people understand the difference between these drunk driving crimes. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the most serious offense with the most severe consequences, particularly because the enhanced penalties for high blood alcohol content (BAC) levels only apply to DWI charges. Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or any drug(s) is also a serious offense with the same penalties as a DWI, except the BAC-related enhanced penalties for the latter. Operating a vehicle while impaired (OWI) by alcohol and/or any drug(s) is the least serious drunk-driving violation, but is still a criminal offense punishable by jail sentences and fines.

Elements of a Drunk Driving Charge

Driving under the influence is also a very serious offense. DC Code § 50-2206.11 states that it is illegal for any person to operate or be in physical control of any vehicle while the person is under the influence of alcohol and/or any drug(s). As explained above, it is a “per se” rule that any driver with a BAC of 0.08 or higher is presumed to be driving while intoxicated. However, a driver is presumed to be driving under the influence if:

  • The driver has a BAC under 0.08 but at or above 0.05
  • The driver has a BAC under 0.05 but above 0.00 and one of the following is true: (1) the person is driving a commercial vehicle, (2) the person is under 21 years of age, or (3) there is evidence that the driver is impaired by a drug
  • The driver has a BAC of 0.00 but there is substantial evidence that the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle is significantly impaired by the consumption of a drug

This is because if a driver’s BAC is below 0.05, there is a rebuttable presumption that the driver is not under the influence of alcohol and/or any drug(s). However, that presumption does not apply (see § 50-2206.51(b)) if there is evidence of impairment from consumption of a drug, the person is/was driving a commercial vehicle, or the driver was under 21 years of age.

Some examples of non-BAC evidence of impairment that a DC DUI lawyer can defend against are:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot or watery eyes
  • Unbalanced coordination
  • Failed field sobriety tests
  • Hazardous driving

Rights and Responsibilities

A police officer needs to have a legal reason to pull someone over. That reason may be as simple as a broken taillight or a rolling stop, or it may be as severe as erratic, reckless driving or excessive speed. If the police officer who stops an individual’s vehicle suspects that they may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer will likely ask questions designed to coerce the person to admit guilt. An individual does not have to answer any questions about their activities or whether they have had anything to drink. The person should be polite and provide their identification but decline to answer any questions without the advice of your lawyer.

If someone is suspected of a DUI, the officer may ask them to perform standardized field sobriety tests or may ask the individual to submit to a roadside breath test. The person does not have to submit to these tests, which are not intended to prove their innocence, but rather to indicate intoxication and prove their guilt.

If someone is arrested for driving under the influence, they will be asked to submit to a blood alcohol analysis test, generally through a breath machine, at the police station. In some instances, the officer may request that they submit to a urine test. These tests are required under the District of Columbia’s implied consent law. The individual’s refusal to submit to the official breath or urine test will result in the automatic suspension of their license, regardless of the outcome of their DUI case.

In any DUI case, time is critical. If an individual has been arrested for DUI, they should contact a qualified DC DUI attorney as soon as possible to protect their rights and begin building their defense and collect all of the necessary evidence for the day of trial.

Defense from an Experienced DC DUI Attorney

Washington, DC DUI lawyer could fight on your behalf. Whether challenging the legality of your traffic stop, arrest, or breathalyzer results, appearing with you for arraignment or status hearing at the courthouse, or negotiating a reduced plea or a deferred sentence through the DC diversion program, an attorney could explore every option for the best outcome to your case. Call today to schedule your consultation.

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