DC Drug DUI Attorney

The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is the most commonly detected substance in the blood of impaired and fatally injured drivers as well as motor vehicle accident survivors other than alcohol. Many drivers have both drugs and alcohol in their system at the time of an accident.

Other drugs most often associated with vehicle accidents include opiates, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and cocaine. The decision to drive under the influence of drugs can have devastating consequences for you, your family, and your reputation. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs in DC, it is imperative that you contact an experienced DC Drug DUI attorney to begin building the strongest defense possible.

driving under the influence of controlled substances in DC

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

The District of Columbia is a zero tolerance zone for DUI charges, whether involving drugs and/or alcohol. This means DWI and DUI offenses are dealt with swiftly and can result in harsh punishment if a person does not retain appropriate legal counsel. Penalties for drug-related DUIs can include:

  • First Offense: a maximum $1,000 fine, up to 180 days in jail, or both. In addition, a person may have to face a 15-day mandatory minimum jail sentence if the individual’s blood or urine contained certain drugs.
  • Second Offense: a fine ranging from $2,500 and $5,000, 10 days to one year in jail, or both. In addition, a person may face a 20-day mandatory minimum jail sentence if the suspect’s blood or urine contained certain drugs.
  • Third and Subsequent Offenses:  a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, 15 days to one year in jail, or both. In addition, there is a 25-day mandatory minimum jail sentence if the individual’s blood or urine contained certain drugs. There is an additional 30-day mandatory minimum jail sentence for each additional offense after the third.

If a person is arrested for this offense they may have their driver’s license revoked for six months to several years. If a person is found guilty of a DUI charge, the person’s license will be revoked for several months or years. If a person refuses to be tested for drugs or alcohol at the time of the traffic stop, the person will be automatically subject to a one-year revocation of their license, regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. In each of these situations, a person will need to appear before a DMV hearing examiner after the completion of the revocation period to petition for a person’s privilege to drive to be reinstated.

Any conviction for a DUI drug offense will appear on a person’s criminal record, which can affect a person’s personal and professional life in years to come. Certain professions and job opportunities may become closed because of a conviction. A criminal record becomes part of a person’s credit record as well and banks, landlords, credit card companies, and even car dealers may view a person with a conviction as a credit risk.

Points are added to a person’s driving record, so it could be difficult to keep (or reinstate) a person’s driver’s license. A person’s auto insurance rates will climb if a carrier does not choose to drop the person’s coverage altogether. Depending on the drugs that were detected in a person’s system at the time of arrest, a person could become the target of a much larger criminal drug investigation and face additional criminal charges.

Biggest Mistakes to Avoid

In a drug DUI case, the biggest mistakes are similar to what they would be in a driving under the influence of alcohol case. Common mistakes include, not understanding one’s rights, not realizing that a person has the right to not answer any of the officers’ questions, and not understanding the right to refuse to provide a urine or blood sample when asked. Frequently, people do not realize that certain drugs can remain in their system for longer than one day. Marijuana can remain in the urine for as long as three to four weeks. Cocaine can remain in the urine for several days after use.

While the mere presence of these substances in the urine is not sufficient to prove that the driver was under the influence of them at the time of arrest, the government will often attempt to use these toxicology results as evidence of intoxication. Many people are also unaware of the fact that having some drugs in their system can result in mandatory jail time, even with no criminal record or previous arrests. Since DC laws on marijuana possession have changed recently, some people received the false impression that police can no longer arrest and charge people with driving under the influence of marijuana.

That is also a mistake as the DC marijuana laws specifically state that prosecutors can go forward on criminal charges if they have evidence someone was under the influence of marijuana while driving. If a person has any questions or concerns regarding their DC drug DUI charges, they should schedule a retain the services of a DC Drug DUI attorney.