DC DUI Penalties: What Are You Facing if You Are Convicted of a DUI in DC?

A person is considered “convicted” of a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge if they are found guilty of a DUI at trial or if they plead guilty to a DUI.  Being convicted of DUI in the District of Columbia is a matter that must be taken very seriously.  The maximum penalty (or “sentence”) that an individual can receive for a DUI conviction at DC Superior Court is dependent on three things: (1) Any prior DUI (or Driving While Impaired/Operating While Impaired) convictions in any jurisdiction; (2) the breath score or urine score; and (3) whether drugs were detected in their urine.

DC DUI First Time Offenders

If this is the first time that an individual has been convicted of driving under the influence (or DWI/OWI) in any state or jurisdiction, the maximum punishment that the Judge can give them is 180 days in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. [D.C. Code § 50-2206.13(a)]

While the prosecutor may ask for a certain sentence, the Judge has full discretion as to what sentence the individual actually gets. However, the majority of first-time DC DUI offenders are not sentenced to jail time unless the facts fall under one of the mandatory minimum requirements below, or unless the arrest involved an accident or injury.

How Can Past Convictions Affect A DC DUI Sentence?

If an individual is convicted of a DUI for a second time, he or she faces a much harsher punishment. The maximum sentence that an individual can receive for a second DUI conviction is: one year in jail and/or a fine amount between $2,500 and $5,000.However, while the Judge can give up to one year in jail, the individual must serve at least ten (10) days in jail. [D.C. Code § 50-2206.13(b)]

Not surprisingly, the maximum sentence gets higher every time that the person gets convicted of a DUI. If an individual is convicted of DUI for a third time, the Judge can impose a sentence of up to one year and/or a fine amount between $2,500 and $10,000. For a third offender, the Judge must impose a jail sentence of at least fifteen (15) days in jail. [D.C. Code § 50-2206.13(c)]

If a person is convicted of a DUI four or more times, the Judge is required to add thirty (30) days to the jail sentence for each additional DUI conviction. [D.C. Code § 50-2206.13(d)]

Any DUI, DWI, or OWI conviction in any state or jurisdiction will be counted as a prior offense in D.C. Superior Court.

How Can A Breath or Urine Test Score Affect a DC DUI Sentence?

After a person is arrested for DUI or OWI in the District of Columbia, the police often give the individual an option to take a blood, urine, or breath test in order to determine the amount of alcohol in his or her system. If the person consents to taking one of these tests and is convicted on the DUI charge, the result of the tests may affect the sentence that is imposed.

If a test result is either: (1) Blood: 0.20 or above; (2) Breath: 0.20 or above; or (3) Urine: 0.25 or above, a Judge is required to impose at least ten (10) days in jail for first convictions, at least fifteen (15) daysin jail for a second conviction, and at leasttwenty (20) days for third or subsequent convictions . [D.C. Code § 50-2206.13(a)(1), (b)(1), (c)(1)]

If a test result is either: (1) Blood: 0.25 or above; (2) Breath: 0.25 or above; or (3) Urine: 0.32 or above, a Judge is required to impose a mandatory minimum of at least fifteen (15) days in jail for the first conviction, at leasttwenty (20) days in jail for the second conviction, andtwenty-five (25) days for third or subsequent convictions.[D.C. Code § 50-2206.13(a)(2), (b)(2), (c)(2)]

If a test result is either: (1) Blood: 0.30 or above; (2) Breath: 0.30 or above; or (3) Urine: 0.39 or above, a Judge is required to impose a mandatory minimum of at least twenty (20) days in jail for the first conviction, at least twenty-five (25) days in jail for the second conviction, and thirty (30) days for third or subsequent convictions. [D.C. Code § 50-2206.13(a)(3), (b)(3), (c)(3)]

How Can A Positive Drug Result Affect a DC DUI Sentence?

Along with determining alcohol concentrations, a blood or urine test can also detect the presence of drugs in the individual’s system. The D.C. Code also requires that the Judge impose mandatory jail time if the individual tests positive for any Schedule I controlled substance. Common Schedule I drugs include: cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), methadone, methamphetamine (MDMA), and morphine, among many others that are listed in D.C. Code § 48-902.04.

For a DUI first offender, the mandatory minimum jail sentence if the individual tests positive for a Schedule I is fifteen (15) days in jail. For a DUI second offender, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is twenty (20) days in jail. For a DUI third offender, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is twenty-five (25) days in jail.

While some of these requirements are “mandatory,” a good attorney may be able to use facts and biographical information to negotiate better situations for those facing DUI charges. At Bruckheim& Patel, we are experts in litigating DC DUI cases and will use that expertise to ensure that those charged with DUI in DC will get the best result possible. If you or someone you know has been charged with Driving Under the Influence in the District of Columbia, call (202) 930-3464 for a consultation with one of our DUI attorneys today.