If you are thinking about driving home after a night of drinking with friends, think again. Thanks to new legislation in Washington, DC, the penalties for drinking while driving in have gotten tougher as of August 1. In fact, the maximum fines for drivers charged with drinking and driving have nearly tripled.
Here’s what you can expect if you’re caught drinking under the influence in the District of Columbia. First time being charged with driving under the influence? You can pay up to $1000 in fines and spend up to 180 days in jail. Yes, you read that right. You can spend up to six (6) months in jail the very first time you are charged with drunk driving in DC.
It gets worse. If you are caught driving under the influence and you submit a breath score between 0.20 and 0.25 or a urine score of .25-.32, expect to spend 10 days in jail if you are convicted on that score. This is regardless of whether you are charged with your first offense…the judge must sentence you to a minimum of 10 days in jail. If your breath score is 0.26-.30, or if your urine is .33-.39, you will spend 15 days in the slammer. And finally, breath scores over .30 or urine scores over .39 carry minimum jail sentences of 20 days. These sentences are mandatory. Do the crime (drunk driving) and you will do the time. Case closed.
These enhanced penalties do not apply only to alcohol. Drivers whose blood or urine contains the presence of a Schedule I drug…such as PCP, cocaine, heroin, methadone, or morphine to name a few…will serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 days if convicted.
Drivers with prior DUI convictions also will face greater penalties if convicted. Expect to serve a minimum of 10 days in jail if convicted as a repeat offender in addition to mandatory jail time if your chemical scores are high.
And, do not even think about driving under the influence with children in the car or you will really feel the heat. If you are charged with drunk driving with kids in the car, you will spend five (yes, five) days in jail for every child that is in the car. Driving under the influence of alcohol with three children in the car (regardless of whether they are your kids or if they belong to someone else) and you will spend at least 15 days in jail.
DC taxi drivers, you are not exempt from the increased penalties imposed by the new legislation. If you are caught driving with a BAC that is .04 or higher, expect to be charged and penalized.
Here’s one more think you should know … after being on hiatus for more than two years, the breath analysis test is back. Yes, it’s back. As of August 1, 2012, the Chief Medical Examiner’s office will take control of the breath analysis program. As a result, you can (and probably will) be asked to take a breath analysis test if you are stopped for driving under the influence.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you are stopped by the police under the suspicion of drinking while driving, our advice is the same. Just say no! Click here to watch our YouTube video to learn why.
Tough new laws, huh? Here’s the solution. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. If you’re driving, don’t drink. Find yourself in trouble … call our office at (240) 753-8222. In fact, put the number in your mobile phone, right now.