DC DUI Consequences
Driving under the influence is a crime that is taken seriously in DC. If you have been charged with a DUI, you should contact a DC DUI lawyer to help you understand the potential consequences and ensure that your freedom is protected.
Common Stops and Checkpoints
There are checkpoints or police officers all over the District who look for people driving a vehicle in a manner that causes the officer to want to stop the driver for a DUI offense. Police officers tend to make stops near highways or entrances to the highways.
Police officers focus on DUIs because there are so many collateral consequences that can occur. The danger to other people from someone allegedly driving under the influence is enormous.
Enforcement of DC DUI Laws
DUI charges cannot be elevated to a felony offense in the District of Columbia, however, they are strictly enforced. There are several law enforcement agencies in the District of Columbia that have overlapping jurisdiction including the Metropolitan Police Department, which is the local police department and the US Capitol Police that patrols around government buildings. The US Park Police patrols regular roads in DC and also in areas that are considered federal jurisdiction. There are at least three police forces that enforce the DUI laws in DC.
The Intimidation of a Drunk Driving Charge
Many people who are arrested and charged with a DUI have never been previously arrested for any type of charge. An impaired driving charge is the type of charge that cuts across socio-economic lines.
There are people from all walks of life who are charged with traffic alcohol offenses. Someone charged with a DUI or OWI faces mandatory jail time when they are convicted for even a first time DUI and their blood alcohol level is high enough.
Whether a person loses their license after a DUI will depend on how many prior convictions they have and the degree of intoxication, or their BAC level, as well as other mitigating and aggravating factors. License suspensions can range from a few months to a few years. Chronic offenders may lose their license for up to four years. In extreme cases, repeat DUI offenders may face permanent revocation.
DUIs and Plea Bargains
Whether a person is able to plea a DUI charge down to a lesser offense will depend on the facts of their case. It is possible for a DUI charge to be pled down to an Operating While Impaired charge, which is a lesser offense and requires less harsh penalties. This option may be available for those charged with a first-time offense or if it has been many years since their previous offense. Working out a favorable plea agreement requires the deft handling and skills of a qualified DC DUI lawyer.
Avoiding Jail Time
A deferred sentencing agreement (DSA) is a possible way to avoid jail time, especially for first-time offenders. A DSA is a diversion program where an offender enters a temporary guilty plea and is required to complete certain conditions, such as community service, alcohol counseling, and payment of fines to retract the guilty plea. A diversion review hearing is scheduled some six to 12 months after the guilty plea is entered.
If the offender is able to prove that they completed all the conditions of their DSA, the court will permit the offender to retract the guilty plea and the government will dismiss the case. An experienced DUI defense attorney will have extensive experience in negotiating an agreement with the government.
Sentencing enhancements are, in the simplest terms, additional penalties levied against you upon conviction. There are several potential sentencing enhancements that can be applied to your DUI charge, the vast majority of which involve additional minimum jail time. These include, but are not limited to the following.
Depending on the level of your BAC reading (beginning with 0.20), you could be forced to spend a minimum of 10 days in jail before being eligible for release.
If a driver charged with a DUI was found to have had a minor in the vehicle, that driver can receive enhanced minimum jail time for every minor who was in the car. If the minor is a child under the age of five who was not safely secured, or if it was an older child who did not have their seat belt fastened, further time may be added to the sentence upon conviction.
Conviction of aggravated DUI charges, including vehicular manslaughter or a crash that causes extensive injuries or property damage can result in prison time, court-ordered restitution for damages, and the possibility of civil action being taken against you by the alleged victim or victims.
Working with an Attorney
When someone works with a local DUI lawyer, one of the benefits is that the lawyer knows the judges and prosecutors. A local lawyer knows what a local judge looks for in a DUI case.
For example, the local DUI lawyer may know that certain judges appreciate it when clients are evaluated by a private traffic alcohol program. That gives clients advantages at an initial hearing or down the road in the case.