After a person has been arrested on a DUI charge in DC, they’ll typically have their arraignment hearing about three to four weeks after their release on citation. In the first 10 days after an arrest, there are a few important things that a defendant can do in order to be able to better understand their situation and put themselves in the best possible position to defend him or herself.
The first thing a person should do following an arrest on a DUI charge is take note of any specific time limits and time-sensitive documents upon being released from the police station. You are typically given a number of different documents, the first of which is a citation to appear for the criminal case arraignment at the DC Superior Court.
A person will also most likely be given a second piece of paper from the DC DMV that says “official notice of proposed revocation.” This notice tells a person who has been arrested that they are facing a possible revocation of their driving privileges as a result of their DUI arrest. This notice would also tell a person that they have a specific period of time in which they can schedule a hearing to challenge the revocation of their driving privileges.
That hearing is completely separate from the criminal side of the case since in DC, a criminal judge has no control over a person’s driving privileges. The time period in which to schedule a hearing to challenge the revocation of a person’s driving privileges is 10 days for a person with a DC license or 15 days for a person with a non-DC license.
If a person does not request a hearing within the specified period of time, at that point, a person’s driving privileges would be revoked and he or she will not be able to drive. A person who has scheduled a hearing within those 10-15 days may have full driving privileges up until the hearing date.
If you have a DC license, then within 10 days, you should take your notice of proposed revocation along with any other documents received from the police upon your release to the DC DMV adjudication department at 301 C Street, Northwest, Room 1157. At the DMV, a person can request a DMV hearing to be scheduled sometime after their initial court appearance for the criminal DUI charge. After a person has scheduled the DMV hearing, the person’s driving privileges will be in good status up until the DMV hearing. Since that DMV notice contains a specific time limitation in which a person can request a DMV hearing, that should be the first thing a person does upon being released. This should happen within 10 days for a person with a DC license or within 15 days if you have a non-DC license.
If a person who has been provided with a notice of proposed revocation does not schedule a hearing, then that person’s driving privileges inside the District of Columbia would be automatically revoked after the allotted time period for scheduling a hearing elapses. If a person has a DC license, then the revocation of the driver’s license would mean that the person would not be able to drive in DC or anywhere else until the revocation period elapses. If a person does not have a DC license then the DC DMV only has the power to revoke that person’s ability to drive inside the District of Columbia.
The third thing a person should consider doing is enrolling in an alcohol education or treatment program, preferably within the initial 10 days or as soon as possible. Even if a person has never been arrested or doesn’t believe they have a problem with alcohol, getting enrolled in the right alcohol program can be helpful at an initial court appearance and also when their defense lawyer discusses their case with prosecutors or the judge at later hearings.
At a DC DMV hearing, a police officer would be required to be present in order to provide evidence to show that there is clear and convincing evidence that a person was driving under the influence.
This standard is lower than the standard to convict a person of the crime of driving under the influence in the Superior Court. Nonetheless, a person is entitled to have a lawyer represent them at a DC DMV license revocation hearing. Their lawyer can challenge the evidence presented by the police officer and make arguments to the DC DMV hearing examiner that there is not sufficient evidence in order to be able to revoke the person’s rights and privileges.
Those challenges can be based on insufficiency of Field Sobriety Testing, lack of any breath or toxicology results or a police officer’s failure to appear at the DMV hearing.
If a person has been convicted in the DC Superior Court then the revocation by the DC DMV of a person’s driving privileges inside the District of Columbia is mandatory and there is no way to challenge that revocation.
During those initial 10 days after an arrest, a person can talk to a DUI lawyer about getting information regarding acceptable alcohol education treatment programs prior to enrolling. That way, a person does not run the risk of enrolling in a program that may not be deemed acceptable to either the DC DMV or the DC Superior Court.
If a person is facing the revocation of their driving privileges as a result of a DUI arrest, then those revocation periods have been and currently are considered to be mandatory. That means that, in a first offense DUI, a person is facing a mandatory six-month license revocation period. A person who is facing a subsequent DUI is facing a two-year license revocation period. Those revocation periods have not changed in many years.
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