DUI & DWI in Washington DC
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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2004 there were 43 traffic fatalities in the District of Columbia. 28% of those involved a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
However, this figure reflects a 56% drop in alcohol-related crashes from the previous year. This is thanks to efforts by the District Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Police Department's drunk-driving safety checkpoints and speed enforcement.
During 2004, alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes accounted for 39% of the traffic-related deaths in the United States. And finally, the NHTSA estimates that each year, alcohol-related crashes in this country cost individuals and taxpayers about $51 billion.
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 briefly 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 for 6 months. The same penalty applies to drivers under 21 years old who are caught with any measurable amount of alcohol in their breath, blood, or urine.
Because driving while intoxicated can be so deadly, the penalties are quite severe. Remember that a DWI or DUI is a criminal offense, not a traffic ticket. It's handled by the police and the courts rather than your friendly neighborhood DMV. If you don't learn your lesson the first time, the penalties will increase in order to keep you off the road.
The penalty for the 1st offense of DWI/DUI is a significant fine and up to 90 days in jail. Higher fines and consequences occur with subsequent violations. You can view the D.C. code that regulates DUI penalties online.
A DUI arrest will result in an automatic suspension of your driving privileges―whether or not you are later convicted of the crime in court. This is in addition to the lengthy revocation you will be faced with after a conviction.
To get your license reinstated after a suspension, you must wait for the suspension period to expire and pay a reinstatement fee. You can't get back a license that was revoked, however. Instead, 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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