DUI & DWI in Washington DC

Arrested for a DUI or DWI?

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The Sobering Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014 there were 23 traffic fatalities in the District of Columbia. 22% of those involved a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.

We've all seen these eye-opening statistics before, but it bears repeating here: Drunk driving kills. Each intoxicated person who gets behind the wheel takes into his hands not only his life, but the lives of everyone else he'll encounter on the road.

Always appoint a designated driver when you go out to social occasions where alcohol will be part of the festivities. Otherwise, simply calling a cab when you've had too much to drink will prevent trouble and heartache later.

In addition to the legal penalties outlined below, in the District of Columbia if you are stopped by an MPD officer and arrested for drunk driving (or driving under the influence of drugs), you will be assessed 12 points on your license. This means an automatic revocation of your driving privileges.

DUI/DWI Definitions

In Washington D.C. the amount of your BAC (blood alcohol concentration), age and type of license will determine if you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). You can be arrested for:

  • DUI if your BAC is 0.07% or lower.
  • DWI if your BAC is 0.08% or higher.
  • DWI if you are under 21 years old with ANY measurable amount of alcohol*.
  • DWI if you have a CDL and your BAC is 0.04% or over.

In addition to a DUI or DWI charge you can be charged additional penalties, including mandatory jail time if you were driving with a minor in the vehicle, have a BAC of 0.20% or more, are under age and lied or used a false ID to buy alcohol or in possession or under the influence of drugs.

*It is illegal for anyone under 21 years old to consume, purchase or even be in possession of alcohol.

DUI/DWI Penalties

In the District of Columbia you will be faced with both criminal and civil penalties for driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated (DUI/DWI).

The civil penalties are known as Administrative Per Se and are carried out by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The other penalties are the criminal ones, which are handled by the local courts.

Implied Consent

Implied consent is exactly what it sounds like - if you drive a vehicle in D.C. you are saying you will submit to a chemical test for drugs and/or alcohol if asked to do so by an officer of the law. Because of the implied consent laws refusing to take a chemical test will automatically get your license suspended for 12 months by the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you do not have a license then you will be denied the ability to apply for one for 12 months.

Administrative Penalties

The minute you are arrested for DUI/DWI the Department of Motor Vehicles will take action to suspend your license. This is an Administrative Per Se suspension and is completely separate from any actions the court may take. The arresting officer will give you a Order of Proposed Revocation and your license will be suspended for:

1st offense: minimum 6 months.
2nd offense: minimum 2 years.
3rd and subsequent offenses: minimum 3 years.

Once you are given the Order of Proposed Revocation you will need to schedule a permit hearing within 10 calendar days if you are a DC resident or within 15 calendar days if you are not a resident. This hearing will determine if you may be allowed to keep your license. The hearing must be scheduled by contacting DC DMV Adjudication Services either by mail or by calling (202) 737-4404. You can find out more about permit hearings and applying for a Limited Occupational License by visiting the DC DMV website.

Criminal Penalties

Washington D.C does not mess around when it comes to punishing those who drink and drive. The penalties are stiff and expensive. If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI you will be facing:

1st offense

  • Maximum imprisonment: 180 days.
  • Fine: $1,000.
BAC over 0.20% has additional penalty of 10 to 20 days in jail.

2nd offense

  • Mandatory imprisonment: 10 days.
  • Maximum imprisonment: 1 year.
  • Fine: $2,500 to $5,000.
BAC over 0.20% OR refusing a chemical test has additional penalty of 10 to 35 days in jail.

3rd offense

  • Mandatory imprisonment: 12 days.
  • Maximum imprisonment: 1 year.
  • Fine: $2,500 to $10,000.
BAC over 0.20% OR refusing a chemical test has additional penalty of 45 to 75 days in jail AND 30 days added for each offense.

4th and subsequent offenses

  • Mandatory imprisonment: 45 days with possible additional 30 days per offense.
  • Maximum imprisonment: 1 year.
  • Fine: $2,500 to $10,000.
BAC over 0.20% OR refusing a chemical test has additional penalty of 45 to 75 days in jail AND 30 days added for each offense.

License Reinstatement

To get your license reinstated after a suspension you must apply for a brand-new license―and only after a hearing has been held to determine whether you are eligible to be allowed back behind the wheel.

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