Month: December 2019

When charged with driving under the influence in Washington, D.C., driving privileges can be revoked for a certain period of time, depending on other factors, such as compliance with DUI chemical testing and prior offenses. In the
District of Columbia, first-time offenders are subject to anywhere from six (6) months to one (1) year license suspension.

In most states, the traffic court judge can take action regarding one’s privileges to hold a license. In DC, the matter is left entirely up to D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, while a D.C. traffic court judge can still impose jail time, fines, and probation on top of the DMV license sanctions.

However, the DC DMV cannot revoke your license if another state issues it. In this case, the DC DMV can revoke a non-DC resident’s driving privileges inside the borders of the District but cannot physically take the license. The DC DMV can notify the state DMV that issued your license of the infraction, and the issuing state can take action based on their own laws.

How Different State Laws Co-Exist

DUI laws differ state by state, with some states imposing harsher penalties for first-time offenders. While other states offer a lower statute of charges. States such as Arizona, Georgia, and Tennessee have mandatory jail time for first-time offenders, while Wisconsin’s law designates a first time DUI offense as a civil infraction.

In Washington, D.C., there are three different statutes you can be charged with for drinking and driving: driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, and operating while impaired. Not all of these offenses exist in other states, so if there is no equivalent statute in your home state, it may not affect your ability to drive in your home state.

Penalties in Your Home State

If you are charged with a drinking and driving infraction in D.C., your home state can find out two ways. First, the DC DMV may notify the DMV of your home state to allow them to take whatever action they see fit regarding your privilege to possess a valid license.

Second, the information will be put in the National Driver Register, a computerized database that contains information on all individuals across the country who have had their licenses revoked, suspended, canceled, or denied or who have been convicted of serious traffic-related offenses. Your state won’t be notified that you have been entered into the system, but an officer can access this information if you are pulled over or arrested.

Re-instating Driving Privileges in D.C.

Those who have driving privileges revoked by the DC DMV can schedule an appeal hearing. Out-of-state residents have 15 days after notice of revocation to schedule a hearing with the DC DMV Adjudication Services, where the arresting officer will provide testimony, and you can make an argument.

If granted a license reinstatement after revocation, the DMV requires you to go through the steps of obtaining a license again and pay a fine. If your license is revoked due to a drinking and driving infraction, the DMV will usually require additional conditions, such as an alcohol/drug counseling program, a negative drug test, or installing an ignition interlock device in your car.

During this process, you are allowed to have an attorney present. This is recommended because testimony given in DMV hearings can be used against you in a criminal case in D.C. To speak with a dc criminal defense attorney regarding your case, contact Bruckheim & Patel for a free consultation.

Last year, the District of Columbia passed several laws and amendments to end driver’s license suspensions due to unpaid traffic fines and failure to appear at related court hearings as well as drug possession unrelated to driving. This change led to the reinstatement of driving privileges for more than 65,000 people.

However, several states still have laws in place that automatically restrict driving privileges for unpaid fines to coerce people into paying their court debts despite overwhelming evidence this practice is not conducive to solving the problem of unpaid court fees. The Washington Post found last year that across the country, over 7 million people had their license suspended due to traffic debt.

License Suspension Due to Court Fees

If an individual has their license suspended for being unable to pay court fees, they are unable to drive to work and can losing their job, may have to cut back on hours to account for increased transportation time, or pay more for public transportation. Not only does this unfairly target low-income individuals, but it is proven ineffective because people don’t pay their court fees because they are unable to and limiting their ability to make an income is counterproductive.

Fortunately, many states have eliminated license suspensions due to unpaid fines and unrelated charges and even more are in the process of passing laws to eliminate suspensions as an option. There are several states though, including Maryland, who have not fully rolled back this practice despite implementing plans to make payment of fines easier, such as payment plan options. These states need to follow Washington, D.C.’s lead and eliminate the practice entirely to stop pushing its residents deeper into poverty.

Though the District of Columbia and other states are taking positive steps to change the laws so their residents’ licenses are not suspended for frivolous reasons, there are still more ways the laws can be changed to combat the unfair practice of suspension for low-income people.

License Suspension and Unpaid Child Support

For instance, most states, including the District and Maryland, still suspend licenses for unpaid child support. Even though not paying child support has nothing to do with one’s ability to operate a vehicle, it is still common practice for states to suspend licenses for this reason. Sometimes people are unaware that their license has been suspended, which can lead to other criminal charges, like no permit or operating a vehicle after revocation. Residents in the District are fortunate to have a vast public transportation system, but residents in other states are not as lucky. Not having the ability to drive to work and earn a living means a person will have an even more difficult time paying child support and getting their license reinstated. The better practice would be to garnish a person’s wages for unpaid child support instead of suspending their license. Hopefully, the District, Maryland, and other states will continue to amend license suspension laws to not only benefit the states but more importantly their residents.

License Suspension and Moving Violations

Your license can still be suspended for various moving vehicle violations and you can be denied a license for outstanding debt to the city. If you have had your license suspended in DC due to unpaid fines or charges unrelated to traffic violations, contact one of our attorneys at Bruckheim & Patel for a free case consultation to see if you’re eligible to have your license reinstated.

Call Now Button