General Overview of a Washington DC DUI

In the United States, drinking and driving leads to more than one-third of all traffic accidents each year. The charge of DUI in all 50 states and the District of Columbia means driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The statutes that govern DUI laws and other drunk driving issues are unique to the District of Columbia, and it is important to understand them if you have been charged with driving under the influence.

No matter what it is called and no matter where it happens, such charges are serious crimes. A conviction means that the driver was found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) that is higher than the legal limit. In the United States, the current legal limit is .08 percent of alcohol in the blood. For a driver under the age of 18 however, having any amount of alcohol in your system is a basis for a DUI charge. Some states distinguish between a DUI and DWI charge by charging a person for a DWI when their BAC is below .08. A driver may feel sober or may drive without obvious impairment, but if his or her BAC level is above the limit, he or she can be charged and potentially convicted. In addition, some people reach the level of impairment even if a test would not mark them as such.


Driving a car while under the influence or while intoxicated can and does cause serious harm and death. Because it is such a serious offense, a DUI or DWI charge is not handled as a traffic ticket under the jurisdiction of the local department of motor vehicles. The police and the courts handle these offenses, and the penalties can be severe. In most states and the District of Columbia, your license is automatically suspended if you are arrested for drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs. In DC, that amounts to a 90-day suspension and 12 points assessed on your license.

Special Statutes

Washington, D.C. has an implied consent law that says a person who drives in the district is required to submit to two of three forms of BAC testing, via breath, urine or blood. Refusing to submit to testing results in a DUI refusal charge, a separate type of DUI that results in license suspension for one year.

Penalties & Consequences

Your first DUI offense in DC brings a fine of $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail. Ten days of jail time or incarceration is the minimum for a BAC of 20-25%. If the level is more than 25%, the minimum sentence is 15 days. You could face 20-day minimum sentence of imprisonment if your BAC is measured at or above .30, and a 15-day minimum sentence if you are found to be in possession of a class 1 categorized substance. If a person has a previous DUI they can be fined between $2,500 and $5,000 and/or serve between 10 days and one year in prison. The higher your BAC, the longer your time behind bars. In addition, your license will be suspended for one year, and you also face 30 days of community service.

The District of Columbia will sometimes allow the restoration of a license before the end of the imposed period in cases where auto transportation is needed to commute to work. Generally, in DC you can get your license reinstated after the suspension has ended and after you have paid a fee for reinstatement. However, if your license has been revoked, you first must have a hearing to determine that you are once again eligible to drive in DC, and then you must apply for a new license. A Washington DC DUI Lawyer may be able to help you get your license reinstated.

About the Expert

If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense or if you believe a charge might be imminent, it is important to hire an attorney that can help protect your rights throughout the process of an investigation and trial. You need an experienced DC lawyer who understands the complexities of the laws that govern DUI/DWI charges and can help you pursue the best possible result in your case.

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