Washington, D.C. DUI Defense Lawyers
The consequences for a DUI conviction in Washington D.C. can be steep. Anyone found guilty of DUI in this jurisdiction could face expensive fines, loss of driving privileges, and even imprisonment.
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you need to mount a vigorous defense of your rights and freedom. At Gowen Silva & Winograd, PLLC, we have extensive experience successfully representing individuals who have been charged with serious crimes, including DUI. Contact us as soon as possible for an initial consultation to discuss your options.
Different Types of Drunk Driving Charges in Washington, DC
The laws related to driving under the influence can be confusing at best. The District of Columbia can charge people with three different crimes related to drunk driving: Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and Operating While Impaired (OWI).
A driver must either be in physical control of a vehicle or operating a vehicle and have a .08 or higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be charged with DWI. According to the law, you could be “in physical control” of a vehicle simply by sitting in a parked car with the keys in the ignition. Even if you weren’t driving or your driving wasn’t impacted by your consumption of alcohol, you could be convicted based on the results of a chemical test.
A DUI charge is the second type of charge possible in DC. The government will need to prove that your ability to operate a vehicle was impaired, regardless of your BAC. The arresting officers will look at the results of your chemical tests as well as other factors such as field sobriety tests and observation.
The third type of drunk driving charge in DC is OWI. It is also the simplest one for the government to prove. In short, the government only needs to show that you were impaired in some way while operating a vehicle to obtain a conviction.
Washington D.C.’s Implied Consent Rules
Washington, D.C., like most other states in the nation, has an implied consent law. This means that, by driving in the District, you “consent” to a chemical test if the authorities suspect you of being impaired. If you refuse a test, you can still be charged with a crime, and you could have your license suspended for up to one year.
If the police suspect that you are under the influence, they can test your BAC using breath, blood, urine, or a combination of tests. Depending on the type of charges, the results of a BAC test can be used to pursue a conviction and various penalties.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Washington, D.C.
It’s a common misconception that a first-time offense for DUI is “no big deal.” Any drunk driving arrest is significant because the consequences can be severe and long-lasting.
The penalties for a first offense DUI or DWI include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail. If your BAC was over .20, there could be mandatory jail time with a conviction. The penalties for a first offense OWI are fines of up to $300 and up to 30 days in jail. In addition to these penalties, most people will lose their driving privileges for a period, get points added to their license, and have the mandated use of an interlock ignition device.
The penalties for subsequent convictions are incredibly severe. If you are arrested and convicted again within 15 years, fines are as high as $5,000, and you could spend up to a year in jail. Get a third DUI, and you are looking at fines up to $10,000, jail time up to one year, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 days.
As if these penalties weren’t strict enough, DC extends its “zero-tolerance policy” on drunk driving by enhancing penalties and restrictions for certain groups. For example, a commercial driver only needs a BAC of .04 to be charged with DUI, and anyone under 21 only needs to have alcohol in their system to be charged with drunk driving.
Another thing that you’ll want to consider is the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction. Aside from the immediate penalties we just listed, you will also have a criminal record. With that comes implications for your future, including potential effects on your ability to secure a professional license, go to a university, get a bank loan, find a job, and obtain a place to live.
Putting Forth the Strongest DUI Defense Possible
A seasoned DUI attorney will consider a variety of options when mounting your defense. Some of the drunk driving defenses we may use include:
- Improper Stop– The authorities might not have had reasonable suspicion for stopping you in the first place.
- Questionable Accuracy or Improper Administration of Chemical Tests – Your arrest might be thrown out if we can prove that the chemical tests were not accurate (possibly a problem with the equipment) or were not administered properly.
- Improper Police Actions – The police might have violated your constitutional rights with the stop and arrest, which can lead to a dismissal.
- Improper Management of Evidence– We may be able to assert that there was a break in the chain of custody or some other issue related to the tampering of evidence.
Even if none of these defenses are possible, some DUI cases qualify for certain diversionary programs, such as a Deferred Sentencing Agreement (DSA). We can help negotiate these agreements with the government and in many cases, keep a conviction off of your record.
Contact an Experienced D.C. DUI Attorney Today
If you are facing any type of DUI charge in Washington, D.C., you urgently need the assistance of a qualified DUI lawyer. At GRWS, our seasoned criminal defense attorneys will provide you with the aggressive defense you need during this difficult time. Don’t leave your future and freedom to chance. Contact our office now at (202) 408-5400 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation so we can get to work on your behalf.