Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the most serious drunk driving-related offense with which an individual can be charged in DC. DWI convictions can result in severe consequences not only in regard to the criminal court system, but with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as well.
When you are charged with DWI in DC, it is imperative you find everything you can about the charges you are facing and the best way to navigate the legal process. A DC driving while intoxicated lawyer can advise you on the best strategies for defense throughout your case and zealously protect your rights.
In the DC, drunk driving offenses are broken down into three different categories. Driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, or a combination of the two, could lead to charges of OWI, DUI, or DWI. DWI is a offense and its enhancements make it the most serious of the three charges.
In the simplest terms, driving while intoxicated is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or above.
At the scene of the stop, a police officer may use several methods to determine a driver’s impairment level, including field sobriety tests or a preliminary breath test. If the driver performs one or more of these tests and the officer can determine their results indicate they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may decide to arrest the individual. Once the driver has been arrested and taken to the police station, they will likely undergo either a chemical breath or blood test to assess their BAC.
DC has implied consent laws in place, meaning that anyone who operates a motor vehicle on DC roadways automatically consents to these chemical tests. If a driver chooses not to submit to a breath or blood test, they face the additional charge of unreasonable refusal and risk additional negative consequences for their driver’s license.
The penalties for a DWI conviction are wide-reaching and can be severe. The possible penalties for a first-time DWI offense include a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a possible 180-day jail sentence. If the driver’s BAC was between 0.2% and 0.25%, the penalty includes a mandatory minimum jail term of 10 days. Drivers with a BAC over 0.25% are at risk for a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 15 days. The punishments only become more severe for second or subsequent DWI offenders.
The exorbitant fines and possible jail sentences that accompany a DWI conviction can have a negative impact on an individual’s personal life as well. They may face financial strain, job loss, and tension in their relationships with family members and friends. Long-term consequences could include difficulty finding future employment, obtaining educational opportunities, and being approved for financial loans and various security and background checks.
The DC DMV will add its own separate penalties on to the punishments handed down by the criminal court. On top of the fines and jail sentences that someone accused of DWI might face, they may also lose their privilege to drive. The DMV has the ability to suspend or revoke a person’s driver’s license and the duration of that suspension or revocation depends on the severity of the charges. Refusing to submit to chemical tests also increases the length of time for which a person’s license could be suspended.
Facing DWI charges can be extremely daunting, especially if this is someone’s first run-in with the law. To have the best possible chance at defending yourself against drunk driving charges, it would be wise to consult with a skilled DC driving while intoxicated attorney.
One important factor is the quality of the law enforcement investigation. This includes whether the standardized field sobriety tests were performed correctly and properly administered, whether the chemical tests were correctly analyzed, and whether the breath machine was operated correctly.
It is important to look for medical or health issues a person might have that would adversely affect their ability to perform a field sobriety or breathe test or it would skew the result in general.
When preparing a strong defense, a person has to begin preparations by conducting a thorough investigation. It is also important to focus on the validity of the chemical tests, to make sure that the test was administered correctly and to ensure that the sample was properly collected and analyzed.
A DC DWI attorney will also focus on whether a person has health issues or medical issues that would prevent them from providing a valid sample or something that might skew the test results.
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