It is common knowledge that people should not drive when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol because of the serious harm that one can cause to themselves and others if they get behind the wheel in an inebriated state. The messages in advertisements and speeches given by political leaders warn us that the consequences of driving under the influence can be horrific, but there is very little clear information about what exactly could happen in terms of the law and judicial reach. The basic facts about the personal penalties that one could be subjected to are not regularly advertised, so this article will go over the basics.
Zero Tolerance For Underage
First, if one is under 21 years of age, Washington DC has a zero tolerance policy so anything over .00% BAC is considered over the limit. If someone is over the age of 21, the legal limit to get behind the wheel of a vehicle is 0.08% BAC. If someone is driving a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is 0.04% BAC. These numbers vary slightly throughout the United States, but only very little.
If one gets pulled over, a series of tests are conducted by the police officers on site and then additional tests are conducted once back at the police station. In Washington DC one can refuse to take a chemical test, but DC has an implied consent law meaning that the DMV can suspend their license without the chemical test or if the chemical test shows a score above the legal limit. When the individual accused of driving under the influence appears at their criminal court date, there are three penalty areas that the court has to decide on: 1) the possibility of jail time; 2) The monetary fines; 3) Driver’s license suspension.
Prior Convictions Play A Role
One of the main issues that the court considers when addressing these three areas is how many prior driving under the influence convictions the individual has. Knowing the individual history of the person informs the court on the sentencing parameters. For a first offense, the individual can receive up to 180 days in jail, up to a $1000 in fines, and 6-month license revocation. For the second offense, the individual can receive up to 1 year in jail with a minimum mandatory sentence of at least 10 days, between $2,500 and $5,000 in fines and a year license suspension. For the third driving under the influence offense, the individual can face up to one year in jail with a minimum mandatory sentence of at least 15 days, between $2,500 and $10,000 in fines and a two-year license suspension under § 50-2206.13. The DMV will impose a license suspension if convicted or entering a plea of guilty to a DUI or OWI in the District of Columbia. The court can suspend all of the sentence outside of the mandatory sentence and impose a period of supervised or unsupervised probation.
It is important you hire someone that understands DUI and OWI charges in the District of Columbia. For a free consultation of your case, call us at 202-930-3464.