Just as in the rest of the United States, it’s illegal to drink or consume drugs and drive in our nation’s capital. Whether you’re a current resident or just passing through to see some of the sights, you should know a few things about DUI defense should you get caught driving while intoxicated.
What is a DUI?
Driving under the influence covers more than just drinking while driving. Should an officer pull you over and discover that you’re impaired by drugs or alcohol in any way, they have a right to bring you in. This includes the presence of alcohol in your system, but it also includes any drugs or narcotics you may have consumed before driving.
Intoxication occurs when an individual consumes enough alcohol to register a .08% BAC on a Breathalyzer test, but you can still be arrested for a DUI with less in your system. That amount, or anything higher, renders a person unable to operate a vehicle, making you guilty of a DWI, not a DUI. However, a commercial driver should have no more than .04% BAC because they’re representing both themselves and the reputation of a company. Telling whether or not a person is intoxicated by drugs is a little trickier, but police are able to determine your coherency based on the traffic stop and future tests when they bring you into the station.
Keep in mind that any minor (someone who is under the age of 21) is considered intoxicated if they have any alcohol in their system. This legal definition is designed to protect the individual and everyone else on the road, even if a young person’s BAC is not at .08%.
Before you are charged with the crime, it’s recommended that you invest in the help of a dc dui lawyer to represent your case. While you might have a lawyer back home, relying on a local lawyer guarantees that they know the special laws associated with the specific location.
All DUI court hearings — whether it’s your first, second, or fifth — will take place in the same location: the D.C. Superior Court. Keep in mind that this differs from the federal court. The D.C. Superior Court simply handles cases at a local or state level.
From there, you’re either charged with a crime or deferred. A deferred case means that your sentencing has been pushed back for an extended period of time, typically a couple of weeks or a couple of months. It’s during this deferment period that a defendant can engage in requirements of the deferment to drop their guilty plea and withdraw their case. These requirements often take the form of community service or alcohol programs. This enables a person to walk away without a mark on their criminal record.
Unfortunately, these special cases have become less common. Nowadays, judges won’t hesitate to sentence an individual to keep the roads safer. You need someone in your corner to help navigate the pitfalls when you’re arrested for a case such as this.
The consequences of DUIs: Penalties and more
When you’re charged with a DUI, you’ll likely be fined for your crime. For first-time offenders this charge is typically lower than criminals with a track record for DUIs at $1,000. For subsequent offenders, this charge can range anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 or more. You will also have to install an ignition interlock device on your car for it to be able to start. Once you get your license back, this IID might be placed in your vehicle for up to six months for the first time you’re arrested.
Sometimes, this charge will also come with jail time. First-time offenders can spend up to a half-year in jail for driving under the influence, while repeat offenders can face up to a year or more. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for DUI holders to perform community service or engage in rehabilitation programs.
While a great D.C. DUI lawyer can help represent your case, they can also outline the potential outcomes you may be facing. Understanding complex legal jargon can be hard when you’re overwhelmed. When you’ve been arrested for a DUI in D.C., be sure to call a lawyer before you do anything else; don’t agree to any claims or make apologies that may make you seem guilty in your case. Relying on the help of a D.C. lawyer will help get you the best outcome possible.