Washington DC DUI Lawyer

The District of Columbia has three separate charges related to “drunk driving” or driving after consuming other inebriating substances: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and Operating While Impaired (OWI).  To be charged with a DWI, a driver must be operating or in physical control of a motor vehicle and have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater.  Because a person only has to be “in physical control” of a motor vehicle, a person could be charged with DWI even though that person was simply sitting in a parked car with the ignition on.  A police officer can test a person’s blood alcohol concentration by conducting two chemical tests (breath, urine, blood, or a combination of two different types of tests) on a suspected drunk driver. A person is considered “per se” intoxicated if their BAC is .08 or above.  This means that you can be charged with and convicted of DWI even though your actual driving was not affected by your alcohol consumption.  The government is not required to prove that the person’s driving was actually impaired in order to prove you are guilty of DWI.  Due to Washington, DC’s implied consent law, a driver who is suspected of “drunk driving” and who refuses to take any chemical tests may be still be charged with a crime and may have his or her licensed revoked for up to one year.

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DUI in Washington, DC

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Washington, DC takes an extremely aggressive stance toward all driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated (“DUI”) violations. The DC DUI statute mandates that the Superior Court for the District of Columbia sentence drivers whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels measures above 0.20 percent to mandatory minimum sentences. Another component of the region’s zero tolerance enforcement focuses on drivers who are under the age of 21 and drivers who are holders of commercial driver’s licenses. Any driver can be charged with and convicted of DUI if the government can prove their ability to drive was impaired by drugs or alcohol. Below you will find a list of possible penalties for DUI convictions in DC. Please note that serious, mandatory minimum jail sentences will be enforced in such cases. An experienced DC DUI lawyer will know how best to combat such charges and can provide you with answers regarding specific questions you may have.

DUI First Offense – Maximum $1,000 fine, up to 90 days in jail; license suspension of six months with enhanced minimum jail sentences [§ 50-2206.13 (a)]:

  • BAC of 0.20 or higher – mandatory minimum of 10 days;
  • BAC of 0.25or higher – additional mandatory minimum of 15 days (which cannot be suspended);
  • BAC of 0.30or higher – additional mandatory minimum of 20 days (which cannot be suspended);
  • A 15-day mandatory-minimum jail sentence for any detectable level of a schedule I drug(e.g. PCP, Cocaine, Methadone).

DUI Second offense (within 15 years) – $2,500-$5,000 fine, minimum 10 days to one year in jail and/or both fines and jail sentence, license suspension of one year, with enhanced minimum jail sentences [§ 50-2206.13 (b)]:

  • BAC of 0.20 or higher – mandatory minimum of 15 days;
  • BAC of 0.25or higher – additional mandatory minimum of 20 days (which cannot be suspended);
  • BAC of 0.30or higher – additional mandatory minimum of 25 days (which cannot be suspended);
  • A 20-day mandatory-minimum jail sentence for any detectable level of a schedule I drug(e.g. PCP, Cocaine, Methadone).

DUI Third offense (within 15 years) –$2,500-$10,000 fine, 15 days to one year in jail (or both) license suspension of one year, with enhanced minimum jail sentences [§ 50-2206.13 (c) & (d)]:

  • BAC of 0.20 or higher – mandatory minimum of 15 days;
  • BAC of 0.25or higher – additional mandatory minimum of 20 days (which cannot be suspended);
  • BAC of 0.30or higher – additional mandatory minimum of 25 days (which cannot be suspended);
  • A 20-day mandatory-minimum jail sentence for any detectable amount of drugs.

 DUI Fourth or subsequent offense (within 15 years) – An additional 30-day mandatory minimum jail sentence added to the appropriate third offense minimum. Once you reach four or more DUI convictions over a 15 year period, or incur other civil liability penalties which indicate to the DC Department of Motor Vehicles that you hold no regard for DUI laws, the DMV can revoke your driver’s license indefinitely.

There are other jail time enhancements that could be added to the original DUI penalty if minors were in the vehicle when you were stopped, if you cause an accident, or if any is seriously injured or killed as a result of your drunk driving.

DUI Criminal Process in DC

It all begins with the traffic stop. Traffic stops can occur when a police officer pulls you over because your driving indicates there is a problem, or at a pre-arranged police DUI Checkpoint.  In either event; the officer will be looking for obvious signs of intoxication. If the officer suspects you might be under the influence, he or she will likely administer a series of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST).  If you fail one or more of these tests, this will likely be used as probable cause to place you under arrest for suspicion of DUI. Once you are arrested, you will be asked to undergo a chemical breath or blood test to determine your level of intoxication. Refusal to provide a breath or blood sample can lead to an automatic suspension of your license. However, it is important to realize that there are many flaws inherent in the SFST and chemical testing systems. A knowledgeable DUI lawyer can challenge the results of your SFSTs and other evidence amassed by police and prosecutors. If he is successful, any or all evidence against you may be ruled inadmissible at trial, putting you in the best position for an acquittal or dismissal of your charges.

DUI Blood and Breath Tests

At the police station, you will most likely undergo a breathalyzer test.  But there are some circumstances – especially if you are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, or if you have been taken to the hospital due to injury – where you will instead be given a blood test.  Urine tests can also be administered, though such tests are not typically used in the District of Columbia.

All things being equal, the data produced by a chemical test is strong evidence in court. There are specific rules, however, that must be followed when the tests are conducted as well as regulations that govern the transport and storage of the samples by the police and the forensic lab that conducts the test, including both labs located in-house and private labs which contract with law enforcement agencies. If any of errors or flaws occurred in this tightly regulated system, the evidence against you can be called into question by your attorney prior and at your trial.

Drivers suspected of DUI must submit to chemical tests according to DC’s “Implied Consent” law [§ 50-1904.02(a)]. Nonetheless, a driver may still refuse to submit to such tests but they must also be aware of the potential consequences of their refusal, including the immediate suspension of their driver’s license for twelve months. [§ 50-1905]

DWI in Washington DC

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a criminal charge that carries consequences which reach beyond the DMV. If you have been charged with DWI in Washington, DC, you should consider contacting a Washington, DC DWI lawyer who will zealously protect your rights.

A first-time DC DWI offender can face a maximum $1,000 fine and/or a maximum sentence of 180 days’  incarceration.  A driver with a BAC of .20-.25 can be imprisoned for a mandatory minimum of 10 days. If a driver’s BAC is .25-.30, he or she faces a mandatory minimum of 15 days of incarceration. If the driver’s BAC is above .30, he or she faces a mandatory minimum of 20 days of incarceration. DC Criminal Code Section 50-1905.

In addition to the court-ordered fines and jail sentences, a DWI conviction can lead to the revocation of a person’s driver’s license, increased auto insurance premiums, decreased credit ratings, travel restrictions, and various other costs. For additional information related to DWI in DC, please visit the following page.

Prior to Your DC DUI/DWI Trial

Your attorney will conduct his own investigation into the circumstances of your traffic stop and subsequent arrest to unearth any weaknesses or improprieties in the prosecution’s case. Such issues can be used as grounds for dismissal. Barring that option, your attorney can also work to negotiate a plea agreement to mitigate any potential penalties you may face.

Probation can be achieved under the right circumstances. You may still have to pay fines, attend DUI courses or alcohol and/or drug treatment programs, perform community service, have your license suspended or restricted, and face any other discretionary penalties handed down by the judge or imposed by the prosecutor. If you plead out to OWI, it will go on your record and constitutes a prior offense if you are ever convicted of another alcohol related driving offense.

DC DUI and Ignition Interlock Program

For drivers convicted of DUI and who have had their licenses revoked, it is sometimes possible to qualify for an Ignition Interlock Program (IIP). [§ 50-2201.05a] The program allows them to drive their car if an ignition interlock device is installed in their vehicle. The DMV determines whether you qualify for the program, which must be approved by the court, and requires drivers to pay the cost of the installation of the devices as well as any necessary maintenance or upkeep. The DC DMV also manages the process for driver’s license reinstatement at the end of all revocation periods, keeps track of driver demerit points, and makes decisions whether to revoke or suspend drivers’ licenses based on the accumulated demerit points.

Long Term Ramifications of a DUI Conviction

With a DUI conviction comes a criminal record. This can affect your professional, personal, and, if applicable, academic life. Criminal records also often show up on credit reports, which means that applications for bank loans, rental agreements, car purchases and similar financial transactions may be difficult, if not impossible. If you do qualify for the loan, banks and credit card companies often charge higher rates of interest. Many employers are likely to hold such a conviction against you and may fire you, if you are in the process of applying for a new position, refuse to hire you. DUI convictions can also endanger security clearances required for many jobs in the Washington, DC region.  If you’re still in high school, you might not be able to attend the college of your choice. If you’re a college student, you could be subject to administrative discipline, including suspension, expulsion or the termination of certain student loans, grants, and scholarships. Finally, most car insurance companies take a critical view of those convicted of DUI. Monthly rates may sky-rocket, or you may lose coverage completely. If you drive a company car, you will likely either lose your coverage or have to pay for the increased premium out of your own pocket.

OWI In Washington DC

A person may also be charged with Operating While Impaired (OWI) in Washington, DC. According to DC’s OWI law, a person must not operate or be in physical control of any vehicle in the District while that person’s ability to operate or be in physical control of a vehicle is impaired by the consumption of alcohol or any drug or any combination thereof. A person convicted of this crime for the first time may be fined $500, or incarcerated for not more than 90 days, or both. See DC Criminal Code Section 50-2206.15.

The Benefits of Experienced Legal Representation

duiattorneydavidbenowitzattorneyatlawWe can provide you with a comprehensive overview of the legal standards related to DWI, DUI and OWI charges, as well as more information on the DMV hearings that accompany the criminal charges. We can also assist you in other legal matters related to alcohol charges, such as underage drinking and fake ID charges.  Contact our Washington, DC offices and see how our expertise in this area of the law can work to protect your future.

We are devoted to represent, defend, and assist you in resolving any issues pertaining to DWI, DUI, and OWI charges with the least amount of cost and delay to you. Please visit or contact our attorneys in Washington, DC for free consultation and information.

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Client Reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5

I was charged with DUI in DC back in March. I had a prior in Va and if the prosecutor found out this would have been my 2nd offense. I didn't know any defense lawyers beforehand, so I searched online for someone good. I was not inspired by two lawyers I talked to in VA, so I started looking in DC and found Price Benowitz right by the courthouse and thought this could be a good fit. Attorney Sukumar met with me and he inspired confidence and set my mind at ease. He let me know exactly what strategy he would take. Because of the prior, he made every effort to push my case along quickly, not allowing the prosecutor any more time than necessary. The case took about three months and he kept me in the loop throughout. Even when I dropped by the office unexpectedly he would set aside time to meet with me for a little bit. We were ready to take the case to trial and I felt confident he would win. The representation was OUTSTANDING

5 out of 5

Worried about losing my Driver¿s License and having a DUI affecting my job and my ability to be available for my family I set out on looking for an attorney. My wife, who is an attorney, found the Criminal Defense offices of Price Benowitz, LLP and based on her research she felt that they were the best office to handle my case. So I called and was given some preliminary information from the office and was scheduled to meet with Attorney Jason Kalafat. When I met with Jason I was already comfortable about our meeting because I was given clear expectations. I was offered a reasonable payment plan.I was provided contact information to be able to remain in contact which allowed for adequate communication. I went to court today and was very happy knowing that I all I had to say was thank you to the Judge for dismissing the case. I am very confident.

5 out of 5