DC DWI Lawyer

When facing charges of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Washington, DC, those who opt to defend themselves may be at risk of suffering penalties that include jail time, fines, license suspension, generating a criminal record, increased insurance premiums (or loss of coverage), and restrictions in their professional community, including job endangerment, revocation of security clearances, and a sullied personal reputation once convicted. Hiring a shrewd DC DWI lawyer is one way to successfully counter such pernicious charges.

Below is a chart that is used by some health and safety advocates to help you determine whether you are could be charged with DWI or OWI (Operating While Impaired) in the District of Columbia based upon your weight and the number of drinks you have consumed. A variety of factors will determine your true blood alcohol content (BAC) reading, including your gender and if you have eaten. So use the following guide as a rough estimate only.

  • Intoxicated drivers have a BAC of .08 percent or higher.
  • Commercial drivers who have a BAC of .04 percent or greater can be charged with impaired driving in the District.
  • Drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to have any intoxicants in their system as DC is a “no tolerance” jurisdiction.

Defending DWI Charges in Washington, DC

There are several defense methods an attorney can use to have your charges reduced or dismissed, even if a BAC level might suggest you are guilty. The police officer might not have had just cause to stop you in the first place. Before choosing to arrest you, several field sobriety tests are administered by the police officer that might suggest you are intoxicated, but many times their cause to suspect you of driving while drunk may actually be due to physical or other limitations that create this mistaken impression. The BAC tests might also be flawed, for example the evidence may have been mishandled during the “chain of custody.” The officers who administered the BAC tests might not be familiar with their instruments, or the devices may not have been calibrated properly, which would produce results that suggested intoxication.

A defense attorney might also be able to employ affirmative defenses for situations in which you were intoxicated but you were forced to drive, such as:

  • Necessity – Maybe you were rushing a friend to the hospital because they were injured and you were the only driver available;
  • Duress – Someone chased you out of a bar while threatening your life or safety and driving away from the person was the only way to escape from being harmed; or
  • Involuntary Intoxication – You were at a party and someone spiked the punch so you unwittingly consumed alcohol without knowing it.

Somewhere along the line between being stopped and then charged for DUI/DWI in DC, your constitutional rights might have been violated. You might not have been properly Mirandized before being questioned at booking, or your BAC levels may have been forged and you were not actually intoxicated at all. It takes a seasoned DUI defense lawyer to thoroughly investigate the facts of your case in order to build a proper defense that avoids a conviction.

The DC DMV Can Suspend Your Driver’s License

The DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will likely order you to appear at an administrative hearing shortly after your DUI arrest, but before your trial date. This hearing is used to determine whether or not your driver’s license is restricted or suspended until your case is adjudicated. It makes no difference if your license is issued in DC, Maryland, Virginia, or any other state, your privilege to drive in the District of Columbia is at risk if you do not appear in court or if you appear without being defended by a seasoned lawyer who knows how to deal with the DMV’s administrative process. This hearing is the first of several hurdles that must be cleared in order to avoid the myriad problems that can arise from a DC DWI charge.

Hiring a Skilled Defense Attorney

Just how strong is the prosecution’s case? Is this your first offense? Were there mitigating circumstances? Do you have a strong affirmative defense? The specific facts of each criminal case are what make them unique. As your trial date approaches, your lawyer’s investigation can reveal flaws in the charges against you. Plus, at the DMV’s administrative hearing, your attorney can get a sense of the prosecution’s case and the evidence against you. A seasoned DC DWI lawyer knows how to negotiate a plea settlement with diplomacy. If the prosecutor knows their case is weak, or that the court might look more favorably on you than normal, any conviction, even a felony that is “dealt down” to a misdemeanor, is better to them than nothing.