Washington DC DUI Lawyer

A Driving under the influence offense brings serious penalties and long-term ramifications. For instance, an individual convicted of a DUI could face imprisonment, expensive fines, and a loss of driving privileges. If you have been arrested for a DUI, contact a DC DUI lawyer today. An experienced criminal defense attorney could fight for you and advocate on your behalf throughout this process.

DUI/DWI/OWI Charges

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). En Español.

To be charged with a DWI, a driver must either be operating or in physical control of a motor vehicle and have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater. Because an individual 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 three chemical tests (breath, urine, blood, or a combination of two different types of tests) on a suspected drunk driver. A person is considered 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 their license revoked for up to one year.

If you have been charged with a DUI, DWI, or OWI, reach out to a seasoned DC DUI lawyer. A criminal defense attorney could fight for you and advocate on your behalf. Call today and set up a consultation.

DWIs in Washington, DC

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 could 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, they face a mandatory minimum of 15 days of incarceration. If the driver’s BAC is above .30, they are looking at 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, reach out to a knowledgeable DC DWI lawyer.

Understanding OWI Charges in Washington, DC

Along with a DUI and DWI, a person may also be charged with OWI in Washington, DC. According to DC’s OWI law, an individual 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. For more information about OWI charges, consult with a DC DUI lawyer.

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For more information on the following topics, visit the pages listed below:

  • DC DUI Arraignment Lawyer
  • 10 Days Following an Arrest
  • Breath Testing Errors
  • Discovery Process
  • Defenses
  • Breath Testing Factors
  • Blood Tests
  • Constitutional Issues
  • Missing Court
  • DUI Penalties
  • Being Pulled Over For a DUI in DC
  • DUI FAQs
  • DC DUI Myths
  • DC DUI Diversion Program
  • Underage DUI
  • DUI Traffic Stops
  • Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
  • What Happens to Someone’s License Following a DUI Charge?
  • What Does It Mean to Have a Revoked License in DC?
  • How to Challenge a Revoked License in DC
  • DC DMV Administrative Hearings for DUI Suspension
  • What To Expect From a DC DMV License Suspension Hearing
  • Evidence in DC DUI Suspension Hearings
  • Biggest Myths About DC License Suspension Hearings
  • DC Demerit Point System
  • DC DUI Consequences
  • Blood and Urine Testing
  • What If An Officer Doesn’t Show Up At Your Hearing
  • Diversion and Deferred Sentencing in DUI Cases
  • Tips on What To Do at a DC DUI Stop
  • DC DUI Classes
  • DUI Arrest Records
  • Where You Are Taken Following a DUI Arrest
  • Being Charged While on Probation
  • DC DUI Driving Without a License Charges
  • Definition of Driving
  • What Happens to a Vehicle
  • Missing a DUI Court Date
  • Victim Impact Panels
  • Preparing for Court
  • Modifying a Court Date
  • Refusal of Testing
  • Case Process
  • Rising Blood Alcohol Content
  • Impact on a License
  • Independent DUI Testing
  • Motion Hearings
  • Amendment Protections

DC DUI Laws and Penalties

Washington, DC takes an extremely aggressive stance toward all driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated violations.

People who are operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels of 0.08 percent or higher are considered to be driving under the influence. The DC DUI statute mandates that the Superior Court for the District of Columbia sentence drivers whose BAC measures above 0.20 percent to mandatory minimum jail 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. Individuals who are commercial drivers could be charged with a DUI if their BAC is above 0.04 percent.

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, is 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 could fight to combat such charges and could provide answers regarding specific questions.

DUI First Offense – An individual arrested for a DUI for the first time could be looking at a maximum $1,000 fine, up to 90 days in jail, and a 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 0.25 or higher – additional mandatory minimum of 15 days (which cannot be suspended)
  • BAC of 0.30 or 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) – If someone receives their second DUI offense within 15 years, they could be facing a $2,500-$5,000 fine, minimum 10 days to one year in jail and/or both fines and jail sentence, and a 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 0.25 or higher – additional mandatory minimum of 20 days (which cannot be suspended)
  • BAC of 0.30 or 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) – Someone who is facing a third DUI offense within 15 days is looking at a $2,500-$10,000 fine, 15 days to one year in jail (or both), and a 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 0.25 or higher – additional mandatory minimum of 20 days (which cannot be suspended)
  • BAC of 0.30 or 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 a person reaches four or more DUI convictions over a 15-year period or incur other civil liability penalties, this indicates to the DC Department of Motor Vehicles that they hold no regard for DUI laws, and the DMV can revoke their 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 the person was stopped, if they cause an accident, or if anyone is seriously injured or killed as a result of the defendant’s drunk driving. The penalties of a DUI conviction can be severe, therefore, it is essential for a defendant to contact a DC DUI lawyer.

Long-Term Ramifications of a DUI Conviction

With a DUI conviction comes a criminal record. This can affect a person’s 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 they 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 them and could fire them. In addition, if they are in the process of applying for a new position, the employer might refuse to hire them. DUI convictions can also endanger security clearances required for many jobs in the Washington, DC region.

If the driver is still in high school, they might not be able to attend the college of their choice. If they are a college student, they 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 skyrocket, or they may lose coverage completely. If they drive a company car, they will likely either lose their coverage or have to pay for the increased premium out of their own pocket. Therefore, it is critical for defendants to seek the services of a DC DUI lawyer. An attorney could help an individual avoid these serious long-term consequences.

Ignition Interlock Program

For drivers convicted of DUI and who have had their licenses revoked, it is sometimes possible to qualify for the 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.

An ignition interlock device is a piece of equipment that is installed in a person’s car and prevents their car from starting until they blow into an attached portable breath test. If the test indicates  0.0, then the ignition interlock will not activate and will allow them to start the car. If they have alcohol in their breath, it will prevent their car from starting until they do not have any alcohol in their breath. However, it is important to know that ignition interlock devices are not usually used in DC.

DUI Criminal Process in DC

The arrest process for a DUI typically begins with a traffic stop. Traffic stops can occur when a police officer pulls you over because of a traffic violence. A traffic stop can also happen at a pre-arranged police DUI checkpoint. In either event, the officer will be looking for obvious signs of intoxication. Some signs that could indicate intoxication include slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, and unable to keep from staggering. If the officer suspects an individual might be under the influence, the officer will likely administer a series of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST).

If a person fails one or more of these tests, this could be used as probable cause to place them under arrest for suspicion of DUI. Once they are arrested, they may be asked to undergo a chemical breath or blood test to determine their level of intoxication. Refusal to provide a breath or blood sample can lead to an automatic suspension of their license.

However, it is important to realize that there are many flaws inherent in the SFST and chemical testing systems. A knowledgeable DUI lawyer in DC could challenge the results of someone’s SFSTs and other evidence amassed by police and prosecutors. If they are successful, any or all evidence against someone may be ruled inadmissible at trial, putting them in the best possible position for an acquittal or dismissal of their charges given the circumstances.

DUI Blood and Breath Tests

Once someone is taken back to the police station, they will most likely undergo a breathalyzer test. But there are some circumstances – especially if they are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, or if they have been taken to the hospital due to injury – where they 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 someone can be called into question by their attorney prior and at their trial.

Drivers suspected of DUI must submit to chemical tests according to DC’s implied consent law [§ 50-1904.02(a)]. Implied consent law says that when someone drives on the road, they are consenting to take a chemical test. 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 12 months. [§ 50-1905] Speak to an accomplished DUI attorney in DC to learn more about implied consent law and how it could impact a case.

Prior to a DC DUI Trial

A DC DUI attorney could conduct their own investigation into the circumstances of their defendant’s 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, the attorney could also work to negotiate a plea agreement to mitigate any potential penalties someone may face.

Probation can be achieved under the right circumstances. A person 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 they plead out to DWI, it will go on their record and constitutes a prior offense if they are ever convicted of another alcohol-related driving offense.

The Benefits of an Experienced DC DUI Attorney

A DC DUI lawyer could provide 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 could 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 experience 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

Title: I was facing a DUI in DC and I wanted to hire a very good attorney...

I was facing a DUI in DC and I wanted to hire a very good attorney to help me fight this. My friend recommended David Benowitz, and he said that Dave is the "best" in DC. I am a lawyer myself, so I knew what a solid attorney looked like. I did consult with other attorneys as well, but after 10 minutes of speaking to Dave, I knew he was the guy I could trust. We fought the case for about a year, and I got an amazing deal thanks to Dave. I only got 3 months unsupervised probation, and paid a $100.00 fine. Dave was able to advocate on my behalf, and really saved me. It would have been significantly worse without him. He did an amazing job. Besides being a great professional, he is a good person and an amazing listener.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 / 5 stars