In DC, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI even if you do not think you were actually impaired. In order to be convicted of a DUI, all the government has to show is that the driver was impaired to an extent that would impair his or her ability to drive. The government does not need an actual specific Blood Alcohol Concentration (“BAC”) level in order to win in a DUI trial. In addition, because the state has a zero tolerance policy on underage drinking, people below the age of 21 can be charged with DUI if they operate a vehicle with evidence that there was any alcohol in his or her system.
Even if the DUI is your first contact with the criminal justice system, if not handled correctly, that single charge can have significant effects including jail time, high fines, and license revocation.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is crucial that you contact a DUI immediately for a number of reasons.
DC DUI Attorneys Can Reduce Jail Terms And Fines
First, the sentences for DUI convictions can be severe. Even the first DUI conviction carries a maximum imprisonment of 180 days and/or a fine of $1,000. There is no minimum mandatory imprisonment.
A second DUI conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year and/or a fine of $2,500 to $5,000. When a person is convicted of a DUI for a second time, the judge has no choice but to sentence the driver to ten days in jail or more.
A third DUI conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of one year and/or a fine of $2,500 to $10,000. A third conviction requires the Judge to sentence the defendant to at least fifteen (15) days in jail.
Each of these prison sentences can increase by 10 to 30 days if the driver’s BAC tested higher than 0.20%.
To make matters worse, certain factors can increase these penalties exponentially. For example, if the vehicle was a commercial vehicle such as a bus or delivery truck, the driver face an additional mandatory five-day jail term on the sentence if convicted. If there were children in the car when the driver was stopped, the sentence will include a mandatory addition 5-10 days of jail time and a minimum fine of $500 for each child that was in the car.
An experienced DC DUI attorney can work to mitigate these consequences by negotiating with the prosecutor and working with the facts of your case to ensure the best possible outcome.
DC DUI Attorneys Can Help You Avoid or Reduce License Cancellations
When someone gets arrested for a DUI in the District of Columbia, an officer will often issue a Notice of Proposed Revocation.
This notice will automatically revoke the driver’s license in ten (10) days if the driver has a D.C. license, and will automatically revoke the driver’s DC driving privileges in fifteen (15) days if the driver has an out-of-state license. The only way to avoid this automatic revocation is to schedule a license revocation hearing (also known as a “show cause”) hearing with the DMV. Scheduling a hearing will stay the revocation until the outcome of that hearing.
At the hearing, the government has the burden of showing that the driver was operating a vehicle while under the influence. The driver is then given the opportunity to cross-examine the officer regarding their testimony, and can make a statement to defend against the accusations. The government has the burden to prove the allegations by clear and convincing evidence, which is a much lower standard than required in criminal court.
If the hearing examiner does find that the government proved their case, the driver’s license will be revoked. The license will be revoked for a minimum of six months if you are a first offender, two years for second offenders, and three years for third offenders.
Being without your license for such long periods of time can be debilitating and frustrating. Fortunately, a DUI attorney can help to ensure the best outcome for your license revocation hearing for a number of reasons. First, the driver does not have to be present at the hearing when an attorney is representing them. This will save the driver the time and hassle of waiting at the DMV at L’Enfant Plaza for the hearing, which can take hours to be heard. Second, an attorney can ensure that the opportunity to cross-examine the officer prior to the trial is utilized to the best advantage for the criminal case. Third, an experienced DC DMV attorney will know all of the nuanced procedural and evidentiary rules of the DMV that can lead to a dismissal of the order based on issues other than the facts of the cases.
In sum, having a DUI lawyer at your hearing is highly recommended, as they will know the specific defenses to argue as well as how to poke holes in police or witness testimoniesso as to defeat the license revocation.
DC DUI Attorneys Can Help In The Aftermath of Your Case
Your DC DUI lawyer can even help you even after your case is over. They can explain how this charge or conviction can affect you in the future, they can advise the driver how to best address the fact of the arrest with employers, and they can explain how to get the DUI charge expunged (or “sealed”) from the criminal record.
Consult a DC DUI attorney today to avoid DC’s harsh DUI penalties.
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