Driving under the influence in DC carries severe risks of getting charged with one of three types of impaired driving, DWI, DUI, and OWI. Many drivers feel that they can drive safely after having one or two casual cocktails, but DC has a zero tolerance policy to reduce accidents that are caused by inebriated or impaired drivers.
Drivers can receive convictions even when driving with a blood alcohol content less than the 0.08 percent national legal limit. If you are facing charges and DUI penalties in DC, you need the help of a DC DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
There are three types of charges that involve operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Operating a motor vehicle while a blood alcohol level that is 0.08 percent or above carries severe penalties and automatic license suspension. Drivers under the age of 21 can be convicted of DWI for any measurable alcohol content.
Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.05 or higher can result in a DUI charge if drivers show evidence of appreciable impairment.
Someone does not need to be driving to be charged with OWI, which is essentially a zero tolerance law. BACs of as little as 0.02 percent or more can still affect someone’s ability to operate and control a motor vehicle. Drivers who pull to the side of the road, but leave their keys in the ignition still have control of their vehicles and could be charged with OWI.
Penalties for impaired driving in DC vary depending on the charge, the driver’s driving record, BAC content, and evidence of unsafe driving. Breathalyzers, which had been banned in DC due to inaccurate readings from faulty equipment, have been replaced and reinstated.
Drivers must submit to these tests or face losing their right to drive for one year, and they can still be convicted by other evidence of drunk or impaired driving. Typical penalties include fines, community service, license suspensions, and jail time.
Penalties have recently increased for DC drivers convicted of DUI charges. Drug or alcohol use can cause impairment, and marijuana stays in the blood for days after and could be used to convict if someone shows other signs of impaired driving. Fines and penalties include the following sanctions:
Prosecutors can easily prove OWI charges because they only need to demonstrate minor impairment and alcohol or drug consumption. OWI fines and penalties include the following sanctions:
A DUI is a separate charge from driving without a license or driving on a suspended license. An individual faces a penalty for the DUI along with the penalty for the separate charge. The issue is that judges tend to take that more seriously because not only is the person accused of driving under the influence or operating while impaired, they are accused of doing so without a driver’s license.
There is a difference between a person who never had a license who is driving versus someone having a license that was suspended for a technical violation or failure to pay a reinstatement fee because they could not afford it versus someone who has their license suspended because they are on their fifth DUI.
Driving without a license can be an aggravating factor on a DUI charge because judges see the person as ignoring the law. That is not a place an individual wants to be when they are charged with a DUI.
Sometimes, a lawyer can convince a judge and prosecutor to accept a plea bargain and reduce DUI charges to OWI. Although this charge carries less severe penalties, this will count as a DUI offense if you receive another DUI conviction within a 15-year period.
If convicted, DC DUI penalties could limit your ability to drive, find employment, or keep your job. Even after you pay your fines, serve your sentence, and perform any community service, the conviction could still possibly haunt you for years.
If you face DUI charges, you only have 15 days to fight license suspension at the DMV. However, a skilled DUI lawyer can help minimize consequences, fight charges, and protect your rights. The following DUI legal strategies could help you after being charged with impaired driving offenses:
If you have any questions regarding the different types of DUI charges that exist then you should contact a DC DUI lawyer at your earliest convenience.
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