Potential Consequences of a DC DUI

Driving when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense, and DC is no exception. Due to the far-reaching and life-altering consequences of a motor vehicle accident while driving under the influence, every state in the nation has enacted strict laws for those convicted of a DUI-related offense. Those facing a drunk driving charge in DC should consult with a DC DUI attorney to defend against what is likely to be a vigorous criminal prosecution.


In DC, there are three levels of drunk driving:

• A DWI is for drivers over the age of 21 whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.08.
• A DUI is for operating a motor vehicle in DC while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The blood alcohol content of 0.08 is not required for a DUI conviction.
• An OWI is for those who operate a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. The driver does not have to have a BAC over 0.08. A police officer can arrest any driver who appears to be operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

DC DUI cases do not rely solely on blood alcohol content. Other methods of determining if a driver is driving under the influence include:

• The driver’s physical appearance
• The driving pattern
A field sobriety test

Any of those factors may be used as circumstantial evidence to prove that a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Drivers in DC give their implied consent to a blood or breath test if they are stopped for erratic driving. If drivers have a blood alcohol content greater than 0.08, they have violated the “per se” laws in DC. Mental or physical impairment is automatically presumed if the driver’s BAC is above the legal limit.

The penalties for driving under the influence or while intoxicated are severe. Drivers who are suspected of being over the limit must take a Breathalyzer or blood test. Those who do not comply lose their driving privileges for a year in addition to whatever other penalties are incurred. Additionally, the driver’s refusal can be submitted as evidence at trial that the driver believed the test would reveal a BAC exceeding the legal limit.

First-Time Offenders

First-time offenders may have the option to enter a pretrial diversion program. Drivers who have a recent conviction in another state are not considered to be first-time offenders. The diversion programs are also not available for drivers who recorded a BAC of 0.20 or more.

Repeat offenders face DC’s toughest DUI penalties. DC has a 15-year lookback period, which means that drivers who were convicted of a DUI-related offense in the last 15 years are considered repeat offenders.

Drivers convicted of DUI face the suspension of their driver’s license for varying periods depending on how many convictions they have.

• First-time offenders lose their license for six months
• Drivers with two convictions lose their license for one year
• Drivers with three or more offenses can lose their license for up to two years

Prior Convictions

DC enacted harsher penalties in 2012 for drivers convicted of a DUI. Fines now can be as high as $1,000, and guilty motorists may also be jailed for as long as 180 days. They might also have to install an ignition interlock, which requires the driver to submit to a Breathalyzer analysis before the vehicle can be started. First-time offenders receive an automatic five days in jail. If their blood alcohol content is above 0.20, that minimum sentence is raised to ten days. Those with a BAC over 0.30 face a minimum of 20 days in jail. A person who is employed as a commercial driver cannot have a BAC that exceeds 0.04 percent. A conviction carries an automatic, mandatory jail sentence of five days plus whatever other penalties are imposed on the driver.

DC’s tougher stance toward drunk drivers is representative of the tougher laws being enacted across the nation. Drunk drivers risk their health, their wealth, and their freedom. The stricter laws against driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are meant to remove offending drivers from the roadways before they have a chance to cause a fatal collision.