Under DC laws, a person with a driving under the influence charge has two separate matters going on. The first and more important matter is the criminal side of the case. The person faces criminal charges filed by a prosecutor with possible jail time, possible fines, and probationary periods as well as a criminal record. One important thing to understand about DC criminal DUI cases is that the criminal judges have no control over the status of the person’s driver’s license.
If you are facing penalties for your third DUI charge, it is important to consult an experienced DUI attorney so they can fight to reduce the penalties that you might receive and get you back to living your life.
The criminal judge cannot revoke their license, suspend their license, or impose any kind of penalties on a person’s driving record. That is handled as a completely separate matter by the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). When a person is arrested for a DUI; they should receive two separate notices.
The first is their notice to appear before a criminal judge for their criminal DUI charges. The second is an official notice of proposed revocation of their driver’s license that entitles them to a hearing before the District of Columbia DMV.
When a person receives this notice, they must schedule a hearing before the DC DMV to have an opportunity to challenge the revocation of their driving privileges. A person with a DC license has 10 days to schedule the hearing. Someone licensed in another state has 15 days to schedule the hearing. At the hearing, the DMV does not necessarily need to wait for the outcome of the criminal case before making a decision on what to do about the person’s driving privileges.
Upon hearing testimony from a police officer, the DC DMV can impose driver’s license penalties even before the criminal case is resolved because the two matters are considered to be completely separate. If the DC DMV hears clear and convincing evidence that a person was impaired, that person faces the mandatory revocation of their driving privileges. A person with a DC driver’s license can have their driver’s license revoked. When a person has a non-DC driver’s license, the DC DMV can only impose a revocation of the driver’s driving privileges inside the District of Columbia.
The mandatory penalty for a second or subsequent DUI offense is a minimum two-year license revocation period. Once again, that applies to a person’s entire driver’s license when they are a DC driver or to their driving privileges inside the District when they are a non-DC licensed driver. Those penalties could transfer out to a non-DC driver’s home state and their home state could impose restrictions based the state’s laws.
A person does not need to be convicted in the DC criminal court to incur penalties to their driver’s license. The DC DMV operates as a separate entity from the court and can by law, revoke a person’s driving privileges based on less evidence than what the court is required to hear to convict a person on a criminal charge.
The DC DMV can hear evidence in a separate DMV hearing and revoke a person’s driving privileges even before a person has the opportunity to go to trial to challenge their DUI criminal case in the DC criminal court.
Because the DC DMV can impose license revocation even before a person goes to trial for their criminal case, an acquittal at the criminal court does not automatically result in a previously imposed license revocation being lifted.
When the DC DMV hears testimony at a hearing from an officer and determines there is enough evidence to revoke the person’s driving privileges, that standard of proof is lower than the standard at the criminal court. An acquittal in criminal court does not necessarily result in a reversal of an earlier decision by the DMV to revoke a person’s driving privileges.
When challenging the suspension of a person’s license with the DMV, the first things to consider are the evidence of impairment and the evidence of operation. Just like challenging evidence in the DC court, a police officer is required to provide testimony at a DC DMV hearing, showing that a person was operating a vehicle and showing that, at the time they were operating a vehicle, they were impaired to an appreciable degree by alcohol, drugs, medication, or some combination of those three.
After hearing the evidence, the DC DMV can impose a revocation period. Challenging the officer’s testimony on the person’s operation of the vehicle and appreciable impairment is the same whether a person has a third offense DUI or a first offense DUI.
People with third offense DUIs in Washington, DC are not eligible for restricted licenses.
With the assistance of a DC DMV attorney, it is possible to appeal an earlier decision to reduce a license revocation period or eliminate some requirements to have a person’s driver’s license reinstated once that person’s revocation period ends if the person was acquitted of the charges at the criminal court after the revocation period began. If a person is facing penalties for a DUI, it is essential that they contact a skilled DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
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