Washington D.C. DUI Laws

The laws in Washington, D.C. punish drivers who are impaired or over the legal limit. D.C. drunk driving penalties can include fines, jail time, and losing your license. Understanding how your city handles drunk driving can help you find a knowledgeable Washington, D.C. DUI defense attorney to help resolve your case.

D.C. Drunk Driving Laws

The D.C. code criminalizes driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence or driving with a BAC of .08%. Even if you don’t meet the BAC level that is illegal, you can be charged if an officer notices you are “impaired.”

Under D. C. law, being impaired means, that you are exhibiting noticeable signs to the officer that your ability to operate or control a vehicle are affected by your consumption of alcohol or a drug or a combination of both.

D.C. has a zero-tolerance policy for  under-21 drivers. This means if a person is under 21 and driving a car “with any measurable amount of alcohol” in their body, they can be charged with a drunk driving offense. Both are considered misdemeanor offenses but come with different penalties.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .15% or higher; driving with children in the vehicle; prior convictions; accident causing serious bodily injury or death

The penalties for driving while impaired in D.C. are:

  • First offense: not more than a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine
  • Second offense: not more than 5 days to up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500
  • Third offense: 10 days to one year in jail and a $1,000 to $5,000 fine

The court may elect to impose additional penalties, such as an ignition interlock device, community service, vehicle impoundment, or attending an alcohol education and treatment program. Those convicted of multiple offenses within 15 years may be subject to higher penalties as well.

What Terms Are Used for Drunk Driving Offenses in Washington D.C.?

“Driving While Impaired,” and “Driving While Intoxicated” are considered separate offenses under District of Columbia law. Under D.C. law, driving while impaired means that the driver’s “ability to operate or be in physical control of a vehicle is affected, due to consumption of alcohol or a drug or a combination thereof, in a way that can be perceived or noticed.”

If you are found to have been driving while intoxicated, it means that you have met or exceeded the statutorily prohibited blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. You can be considered driving while impaired even if your BAC is 0.07 percent (BAC) or lower if an officer observes other evidence of being impaired that affects your ability to drive or operate a car.

The implied consent law in Washington D.C. means that any person operating a vehicle consents to provide chemical tests of their blood, urine, or breath for the purpose of determining their blood alcohol level. The arresting officer must have “reasonable grounds” to believe that the driver was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse a DUI/DWI test, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to 1 year on the first refusal.

How Do I Get My Driver’s License Reinstated After a DUI or DWI Conviction in Washington D.C.?

If you want to get your driving privileges back after a DC drunk driving conviction you have to wait for the suspension period to end, complete the terms of probation, and pay a reinstatement fee. If your license was revoked, you must apply for a brand-new license and go through a hearing to determine if you are eligible for reinstatement.

You can avoid the penalties of a DUI conviction after a drunk driving arrest by winning your case in court. Your DUI defense attorney can also negotiate to get a reduced sentence to avoid the harshest consequences of a drunk driving conviction.

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