Get the Facts About DUI Laws in the District of Columbia

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Get the Facts About DUI Laws in the District of Columbia

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Drunk driving offenses are aggressively prosecuted in the District of Columbia. Even a first-time offense can result in harsh financial penalties, possible jail time, and loss of driving privileges, as well as several other negative consequences. If you have made a bad decision which resulted in a DUI arrest, don’t compound your error by neglecting to secure knowledgeable and skilled legal representation. Those who speak to an experienced Washington D.C. DUI attorney, as soon as possible, have a much higher likelihood of a successful outcome in their case.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits

The District of Columbia refers to drunk driving as DUI or driving under the influence, and measures DUI by blood alcohol concentration (BAC.)  In the District of Columbia, the blood alcohol concentration limit for a person twenty-one years or older is .08%.  Since it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol, there is no legal limit for drivers under the age of 21.  The District of Columbia has a zero tolerance policy for under-age DUIs.  For commercial drivers the BAC limit is .04%.  In addition to DUI charges, you can also be charged with other alcohol related crimes including:

  • Misrepresenting your age (using a fake ID)
  • Buying alcohol for someone under the age of 21 (contributing to the delinquency of a minor)

DUI Penalties

In the District of Columbia you will faced both criminal and civil penalties for a DUI.  The civil penalties are known as Administrative Per Se and are carried out by the Department of Motor Vehicles.  The criminal penalties are handled by the local courts.

The District of Columbia DUI penalties for drivers 21 years or older vary depending on whether this is a first offense or if you’ve had previous DUI convictions. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI offense in the past, the court will consider the number of convictions, the time period in which they occurred, and the BAC at the time of arrest. Judges also consider mitigating factors, like your background, and any steps you take after the arrest to get treatment and/or whether you have complied with pretrial release conditions.

A first DUI offense:

  • Administrative license suspension for 6 months (12 months if you refused the breathalyzer test)
  • $1000 fine, and/or
  • Up to 180 days in jail

A second DUI offense:

  • Administrative license suspension for 1 year
  • Mandatory imprisonment for 10 days, which, by statute, cannot be served on weekends
  • $2500 – $5000 fine, and/or
  • Up to 1 year in jail

A third DUI offense:

  • Administrative license suspension for 2 years
  • Mandatory imprisonment for 15 days
  • $2500 – $10,000 fine, and/or
  • Up to 1 year in jail

In all cases, if your BAC, blood, or urine score is 0.20% or higher, you will incur a penalty of additional jail time

Subsequent DUI convictions will include additional mandatory jail time, significantly higher fines, and longer license suspensions or revocation.  Driving under the influence with a minor in the car will automatically incur additional fines and jail time. If you have prior offenses and a high score, the jail time compounds.

Should You Take a Breathalyzer Test?

Whether you should take a breathalyzer test is a complicated question that should be assessed on a case by case basis. If you have not had anything to drink, certainly taking the breathalyzer test could exonerate you. However, DC has had a history of problems with its breath testing program. In addition, a high BAC can trigger mandatory jail time while a refusal does not. The main difference in taking the breathalyzer test is a refusal can trigger a 12-month suspension of your license whereas if you take the test, the license suspension is only 6 months. D.C. operates under the implied consent law. This means that if conceited, the DMV will suspend your license. In fact, it is possible you may lose your license just for getting arrested for DUI in DC.

Call & Speak to an Experienced D.C. DUI Defense Attorney

Being charged with DUI is a serious offense that carries severe penalties that can affect your freedom and your bank account. Furthermore, a DUI conviction may impact your ability to find a job or maintain employment, especially if a clean driving record or the absence of a criminal record is a job requirement. You can expect your car insurance rate to increase, or you may even be dropped by your insurer or have difficulty obtaining auto insurance coverage.

If you’re looking for a law firm that will fight for your rights throughout the DUI criminal process, contact Jay P. Mykytiuk Trial Attorney.  Mr. Mykytiuk has successfully represented individuals throughout Washington D.C. who have been arrested and charged with a DUI. Contact us today at 202.630.1522 to discuss your case.