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 our experienced attorneys 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 you are charged and convicted of any of these three drunk driving violations a DC DUI attorney should be contacted 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 Your Criminal Record
  • For Those with Out of State Licenses

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, or;
  • 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

DC DUI Arrest: Your Rights and Responsibilities

A police officer needs to have a legal reason to pull you 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 your vehicle suspects that you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she will likely ask you questions designed to coerce you to admit guilt. You do not have to answer any questions about your activities or whether you have had anything to drink. Be polite and provide your identification, but decline to answer any questions without the advice of your lawyer.

If you are suspected of DUI, the officer may ask you to perform Standardized Field Sobriety Tests or may ask you to submit to a roadside breath test. You do not have to submit to these tests, which are not intended to prove your innocence, but rather to indicate intoxication and prove your guilt.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence, you 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 you submit to a urine test. These tests are required under the District of Columbia’s implied consent law. Your refusal to submit to the official breath or urine test will result in the automatic suspension of your license, regardless of the outcome of your DUI case. It is also important to keep in mind that if you are arrested, the officer should read you the Miranda warning before asking you further questions related to your charges.

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

Defense from an Experienced DC DUI Attorney

Washington, DC DUI lawyer will 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 that will keep you out of jail and keep a conviction off your record, he will explore every option for the best outcome to your case.

2018 Make a Difference Scholarship

If you have a dream that you believe will change the world, Price Benowitz wants to encourage you to pursue it by offering the annual Make a Difference Scholarship. This will be awarded to one individual who best demonstrates how their dream will impact the world, and how they plan to implement it. For more information, check out our scholarship page.