DC DUI Penalties
There are three levels of substance-abuse driving charges in the District of Columbia. The first two (DWI/DUI) are relatively interchangeable and based on a blood alcohol comparison (or chemical comparison if drugs are involved) that are defined in the District of Columbia Criminal Code § 50-2206.11. The third (OWI) is covered in D.C.C. § 50-2206.14. All three offenses are subject to punishments outlined in the Code’s Evidence of Impairment Statute [D.C.C. § 50-2206.51].
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) can involve drug and/or alcohol intoxication. Both are charged as a DUI but specified in the indictment as drug or alcohol. The BAC level of intoxication is 0.08 or above.
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is also specified in the charge. If one is operating a vehicle while legally under the influence of either or both alcohol and drugs (which can be as little as 0.02 BAC), a conviction is possible.
- Operating While Impaired (OWI) is a subjective charge. There is no BAC level on which to base charges and relies only on the opinion of the arresting officer that the driver has enough drugs and/or alcohol in their system to inhibit their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
DC DWI and DUI penalties are generally covered in § 50-2206.13 of the District of Columbia Criminal Code. Even if a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 is the traditional standard of intoxication, DC law has provisions where drivers can be convicted of alcohol-induced DUI with lower BAC levels. And though an Ignition Interlock Device won’t likely be placed on the offender’s vehicle after their first conviction, it is mandatory for all second and subsequent convictions [§ 50-2201.05a].
DWI/DUI – Alcohol
First offense: A fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to six months is possible, but for DUI, the following mandatory minimums also apply:
- 10 days if the suspect’s BAC is no less than 0.20 of blood, or breath; or 0.25 of urine
- 15 days with a BAC of 0.25 of blood or breath; or 0.32 of urine
- 20 days if the driver’s BAC exceeds 0.30 of blood, or breath; or 0.39 of urine (and all the way up to 0.08
Second Offense: This conviction brings a fine of $2,500 to $5,000 and/or a jail term of up to a year. A mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail is automatic, plus any of the three additional minimum enhancements:
- 15 additional days (25 total) the BAC was at least 0.20 of blood, or breath; or at least 0.25 of urine
- 20 additional days (30 total) if the BAC was more than 0.25 of blood or breath; or 0.32 grams of urine
- 25 additional days (35 total) if the driver’s BAC exceeded 0.30 grams of blood or breath; or 0.39 grams of urine.
Third (and additional) Offense: A fine that could be as high as $10,000, and up to a year in jail – with a 15-day mandatory-minimum, plus enhanced penalties that include:
- 20 days extra (35 total) for a BAC 0.20 grams of blood or breath; or at least 0.25 of urine
- 25 additional days (40 total) for a BAC in excess of 0.25 of blood or breath; or 0.32 of urine
- 30 additional days (45 total) for a BAC of more than 0.30 of blood or breath; or 0.39 of urine
DUI – Drugs
- First offense – A fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months, with a mandatory minimum of 15 days that must be served if the suspect’s blood or urine contains a schedule I controlled substance [D.C.C. § 48-902.04], such as phencyclidine, cocaine, methadone, or morphine or one of their derivatives.
- Second offense – A fine that can range from $2,500 – $5,000, along with a jail term of up to a year, with 30 days as a mandatory minimum if any amount – even a trace – of a schedule I chemical or controlled substance is detected
- Third (and subsequent) offense – A fine up to $10,000, plus a 25-day mandatory minimum jail term if the suspect’s blood or urine contains any schedule I drug
The following sentences apply to one convicted of operating while under the influence [D.C.C. § 50-2206.15]:
- First offense – A fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to a year (five days as a mandatory minimum sentence)
- Second and subsequent offenses – A fine of up to $5,000 and/or a jail term of up to a year (ten days as a mandatory minimum sentence)
Minors convicted of a DC DUI or DWI receive up to 10 days in juvenile detention, possible community service, and a $300 fine, and have their driver’s license suspended for up to a year.
DUI and DWI also apply to watercraft [D.C.C. § 50-2206.31] and are subject to the same penalties but without minimum jail sentences [D.C.C. § 50-2206.32].