Getting arrested and charged with a DUI in Washington, D.C. can be a scary and confusing experience. You may be wondering whether you need a D.C. DUI lawyer, or if you can handle this by yourself. Either way, you’ve got questions, and these answers will hopefully help you make an informed decision.
I’ve Been Arrested for DUI, what happens next?
If you were arrested for DUI but released from the Police Department, you will appear in court on the date indicated on your citation. That court date will be your arraignment, at which time your lawyer will enter a not-guilty plea on your behalf, and request another court date. You will not plead guilty or have a trial on your first court date. Ever.
The Police Officer made me take a series of tests. What were they for?
Chances are, if you were arrested and charged with DUI in Washington, D.C., the officer who stopped you asked you to complete three different “tests.” These are called Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs), and usually include the following: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk-and-Turn, and the One-Legged Stand. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), if administered correctly, these tests indicate whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol. According to DUI lawyers, they don’t indicate anything, even when the cops don’t screw them up. At trial, your lawyer will try to convince the judge of this.
I refused to blow into the machine at the police station. Does this help or hurt my case?
This is a complicated question, and one I’ve dedicated an entire blog to. Read that here.
Will my license be suspended?
That depends. If you plead guilty to DUI in Washington, D.C. or are found guilty at trial, your license will almost certainly be suspended by the DC DMV if you have a DC license, or by your home state, if your state is a part of the interstate Driver’s Licence Compact. However, your license may also be suspended (or your privilege to drive in DC for out-of-state drivers) before your case is even concluded . That’s because when you are arrested for a DC DUI, the officer is supposed to notify you and the DMV that your license will be automatically suspended if you do not request a hearing. Instructions for doing so should be included in the stack of paperwork you are given before your release. If you fail to request the hearing, and the officer actually did notify the DMV of your arrest, you have missed your chance to fight the suspension. Don’t let that happen.
Should I plead guilty or go to trial?
Ah, the million dollar question. The facts of every DUI are different. But every case has facts that are good for the defendant and bad for the defendant. Your D.C. DUI lawyer will closely review your case along with the plea offer made to you by the prosecutor. You and your lawyer will have a in-depth conversation about what your options are, and what the potential outcomes will be. At JPMLegal, I start from the presumption that we will vigorously fight the charges, and prepare for trial from day one. But a good DUI lawyer knows when negotiation is appropriate, and some cases benefit more from deal-making, than from trial. Which category you fall into depends on the unique facts of your case.
Will I go to jail if I am convicted at trial or plead guilty?
First-time DUI offenders in Washington, D.C. rarely get jail time, expect in the following circumstances: 1) someone is injured as a result of your DUI; 2) you take the breath test, and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at least .20. Often it is the collateral consequences of a conviction that cause the most problems for someone convicted of DUI. These include the driver’s license suspension and the time and money spent performing the conditions of probation.
If you have been arrested for a Washington, D.C. DUI, and would like your questions answered in person, contact DUI lawyer Jay Mykytiuk at JPMLegal.