Driving Under the Influence in Washington, D.C. Can come with some considerable penalties, especially when a suspected driver refuses to submit to a Breathalyzer test upon being pulled over. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels that constitute a DUI in the district are much like any other. A driver over the age of 21 with a BAC of .08 or greater can immediately be arrested for a DUI. Washington also joins the majority of the nation in enforcing what is generally referred to as Zero Tolerance Laws. Under this legislation, any driver who is under the age of 21 that has a BAC of .02 or above can be convicted of a DUI. Additionally, commercial DUI restrictions are in place that differs from the conventional DUI, BAC limits. Any commercial driver can be arrested for this infraction with a reading of .04 percent or greater.
Washington has implied consent laws in place as well. These ordinances require that drivers submit to testing for alcohol and other substances when the arresting officer has reason to believe that the driver may be under the influence. Refusal to submit to this testing can result in additional fines and punishment. Drivers who are unable to submit to this testing due to unconsciousness or any other reasons may also be subject to these penalties. Refusing to submit to an intoxication test on the first through third offenses can result in a license suspension of one year.
Repercussions for Violating Washington D.C. DUI Laws
In terms of convictions for the first DUI on an individual’s record, jail time can be incurred in addition to electronic home monitoring. There is no minimum jail sentence for first-time DUI offenders; however, they can face fines up to $1,000. The second offense can come with two days to a year in jail with monitoring for up to 30 days.
This state also observes aggravated DUIs, which are penalties for drivers who record a higher BAC reading. Levels at or above .15 will open the door to greater fines and penalties. Drivers who are convicted of this infraction face fines between $1,120 and $5,000. There is also the possibility of an automatic license suspension for the period of one year. The state also typically requires the use of ignition interlock devices during sentencing. First offenses can come with a minimum amount of time in jail that ranges between one and 90 days in jail, depending upon the history of offenses.
A DUI in Washington will be considered a felony when a driver has a history of DUIs, especially ones that fall into the category of aggravated. Most people receive convictions under the heading of “Gross Misdemeanors.” However, DUIs that result in the injury or death of another individual is extremely likely to be deemed a felony even when it is a driver’s first offense.
Changes to Washington D.C. DUI Laws in 2012
In July of 2012, the mayor of D.C. signed the Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act. The legislation strengthened the penalties for first-time DUI offenders and drivers who record higher BAC levels. First-time offenders can now be sentenced to a maximum of 180 days. The previous maximum was 90 days. Drivers who record a BAC of .20 now receive a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days. The old minimum was five days.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In The District Of Columbia?
Motorists on District of Columbia roadways are subject to legal alcohol limit of .08 percent, the same level in effect throughout the U.S. This limit applies to drivers of legal drinking age in passenger vehicles. Commercial motorists may be arrested with a blood alcohol concentration of .04 percent and drivers under 21 are subject to a zero tolerance policy, meaning they can be prosecuted if any trace of alcohol is detected.
People who are convicted of driving under the influence may face severe penalties, potentially including:
- For a first offense, a person may receive a fine of $1,000 and a jail term of up to 180 days.
- A second conviction can result in a fine of between $2,500 and $5,000 as well as a jail sentence of a year (10-day minimum).
- A third offense can result in a fine of between $2,500 and $10,000 in addition to an incarceration period of one year (with a 15-day minimum).
These penalties apply to standard driving under the influence convictions. Offenses involving aggravating circumstances, such as a blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent or higher, may yield more severe penalties. In addition to jail time and fines, a driver’s license suspension typically also results from a driving under the influence conviction.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In The District Of Columbia
In some parts of the country, a person must install an ignition interlock device (IID) after DUI. The District of Columbia is not among these, however. Instead, installation is at the discretion of a court.
If a person must install an IID, these conditions apply:
- A person must pay for installation of the device.
- The device must be installed by a service provider that is authorized by the state.
- An IID must be monitored for failed breath tests on a monthly basis.
Despite coming with potential downsides, most people do opt to have an ignition interlock device installed given it can let them regain driving privileges.
Washington DC DUI Penalties
Washington, D.C. drivers age 21 and older found to have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). DUIs are not considered traffic tickets in D.C. Instead, DUIs are handled directly by the police and courts, and they come with severe penalties.
D.C. also enforces implied consent laws. These laws state that any driver within the district is required to submit to alcohol testing whether via breath, blood or urine. Refusal to submit to these tests will lead to further penalties. Furthermore, D.C. institutes a zero tolerance law in terms of underage drinking. If a driver under the age of 21 is found with a BAC of .02 or higher, he or she will be convicted of a DUI.
Washington, D.C. DUI Penalties
A first DUI offense in D.C. will result in a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail. If a first offender’s BAC registers from .20 to .25, they will spend a minimum of five days in jail. If the level is above .25, the mandatory jail stay is 10 days. First offenders will also have their license suspended for six months.
Offenders who receive a second DUI within 15 years of the first charge will have their license suspended for two years. Second offenders can also spend up to one year in jail based on the BAC level. Second Offenders face higher fines, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Additionally, second offenders will have to serve 30 days of community service.
Those charged with three or more DUIs within 15 years of the second offense will receive a minimum jail sentence of 10 days or up to one year. Repeat offenders will also face even higher Washington, D.C. DUI penalties such as 60 days of community service, a two-year license suspension and fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.
Ignition Interlock Devices in Washington, D.C.
Unlike some states, D.C. will immediately suspend one’s license upon receiving a DUI without waiting for a conviction. For repeat offenders, the district has allowed the use of Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs), devices that require a breath sample before starting the car. IIDs are given in a case by case basis, but can only be used after one year of license revocation if the offender was sentenced to two years or after two years of revocation if the offender was sentenced to three years of revocation. Other restrictions also apply in terms of IIDs.
License Reinstatement in Washington, D.C.
Offenders who have had their licenses suspended must pay a fine in order to retrieve their license once the suspension is completed. However, if an offender’s license was revoked, he or she must attend a hearing in order to determine eligibility to acquire a new license. If the offender is found to be eligible for driving privileges, he or she must then apply for a new license.