The DC Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012 essentially doubled the minimum sentences applicable to all drinking and driving statutes imposing and enforcing the toughest penalties compared with most other jurisdictions.
Specifically, the statutory language states: no person shall operate or be in physical control of any vehicle in the District:
(I) When the person’s alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of testing is 0.08 grams or more either per 100 milliliters of blood or per 210 liters of breath or is 0.10 grams or more per 100 milliliters of urine;
(II) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or any combination thereof; or
(III) If under 21 years of age, when the person’s blood, breath, or urine contains any measurable amount of alcohol.
Accordingly, in Washington DC you can be technically charged with a DC DWI or DC DUI if you are operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any measurable amount of alcohol or drugs.
A BAC of 0.08 or more will most likely result in a DWI (driving while intoxicated) charge, the most severe, and generally referred to as “per se” intoxication.
The BAC below 0.08 will result in a DUI (driving under the influence) charge, a lower included offense. Your physical appearance such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, performance on field sobriety tests — all will be considered as well as chemical tests.
A driver’s blood alcohol concentration or BAC can be measured by testing the driver’s blood, breath, or urine. Generally at the scene the Officer will rely upon both the physical attributes as well as the reading of the breathalyzer machine. Given the severity of the mandatory minimum sentences and the general unreliability of breathalyzer machines, blood and urine tests are now more prevalent.
The first time penalties for DC DWI/DUI conviction are fines of no more than $1000 and a maximum prison term of no more than 180 days.
Significantly though, if the person’s BAC upon arrest was between 0.20-0.25, there is a mandatory 10 days jail time and if the BAC was between 0.25-0.30 there is a 15 days mandatory jail time and over 0.30 — 20 days of jail time – all mandatory.
In the District, there is also a third or the least significant drinking and driving offense that is categorized as “Operating While Impaired” (OWI).
Specifically the statute outlines that: No person shall, while the person’s ability to operate a vehicle is impaired by the consumption of intoxicating liquor, operate or be in physical control of any vehicle in the District.
Conviction under this provision, for the first time offense, carries a fine $500/90 days.
Incidentally, BAC of 0.05 grams or less establish a rebuttable presumption that the individual is not under the influence of an intoxicating liquor and BAC above that level shall constitute a prima facie proof of intoxication.
Moreover, in addition to severe criminal penalties, there are administrative DC DMV consequences to a drinking and driving arrest.
In Washington DC, a refusal to submit to chemical tests upon the arresting Officer’s request will result in DMV license suspension proceedings and also might limit the plea bargaining process.
Specifically, the Office will put in motion the driving privileges suspension when:
The police officer had reasonable grounds to believe such person:
1) had been driving or
2) was in actual control of a motor vehicle upon the public street or highway and
3) while the person’s alcohol concentration is 0.08 or while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or any combination thereof, or
4) while the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired by the consumption of intoxicating liquor; and
5) whether such person, having been placed under arrest, REFUSED to submit to the test or tests, after having been informed of the consequences of such refusal.”
The suspension request will automatically take an effect in 10 days from the arrest unless a written administrative hearing has been requested within that period.
Given the complexity of the statutory language and both stiff criminal and civil ramifications, it is essential to immediately after an arrest under to contact an experienced DC DUI lawyer or a DC DWI lawyer to defend your rights and to minimize your criminal and civil exposure.
Our DC criminal defense lawyers routinely litigate complex DC DUI or DC DWI cases often times accident involved with successful results obtaining either dismissals, non-guilty verdicts or other favorable outcomes such as diversion or probation.
Contact our tenacious DC DUI or DC DWI lawyers today for initial case evaluation.