What to do when you get caught Drunk and Driving

For driving in Washington, DC (District of Columbia) BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of more than prescribed limit results into offences ‘Driving Under Influence’-(DUI) and ‘Driving While Intoxicated’ (DWI). If you are of age under 21 years, you cannot have any alcohol in your body while driving because Washington DC has zero Tolerance for drivers under the age of 21. It is ‘DUI’ when your BAC is at least 0.05% to 0.07% and DWI when your BAC is 0.08% or more.


When you are arrested for DUI/DWI, the police take you to the Police station and after that to the Local District Station or the Headquarters. They will take your finger prints and picture. They will then ask you to submit your breathe or urine sample for the test. After conducting the test, in most of the cases, offenders are released on the promise to appear on the date of court judgment unless they have any other pending criminal procedure.


Under DUI/DWI offences, you are charged with both Civil and Criminal penalties. Civil penalties will be carried out by Department of Motor Vehicle. The arresting officer will give you order of proposed revocation and immediately suspend your license for a period ranging from 6 months to 2 years depending upon the effects of your offence. License suspension period is same as that of State of Virginia and Maryland. You will have to schedule a permit hearing to avoid revocation of license within 10 days if you are in the district and 15 days if you are out of the district. For getting Restricted DC Driver’s License (depending upon the circumstances of your suspension, this license is provided to drive to and from authorized locations), you have to qualify by installing IID (Ignition Interlock Device). All the criminal penalties will be carried out by court. The criminal penalties in Washington, DC are strict and expensive. On the first offence of DWI, you will have to pay fine of up to $1000 and face imprisonment for upto 180 days. And on the first offence of DUI, you will have to pay fine of up to $1000 and imprisonment up to 90 days. For BAC on or over 0.20%, imprisonment will be for additional 0-20 days.


In Washington, DC, to reinstate your suspended license, you have to submit proof of insurance, necessary clearance documents, pass driving skills and knowledge tests, and pay reinstatement licensing fees along with the proof of completion of Alcohol Education Program. If your license is revoked, first you have to attend reinstatement hearing in person, and repeat the requirements of getting new license (knowledge test, learners permit and road skill test). The requirements differ in every state. In Virginia, the procedure for reinstatement is quite different and includes paying all pending fines and fees, filing Financial Responsibility Form, jail fees and Alcohol Safety Action Program. And in Maryland, it is Alcohol/substance abuse assessment and treatment program and installation of IID. If your license is revoked, you will have to qualify all the tests and procedures required for getting a new license.


So, the first step you should take after getting arrested for DUI/DWI in Washington, DC is to consult an Attorney who has specialized in this field in DC laws. If you don’t want to lose your driving permit automatically, you should proceed with required steps and keep the copy of driver’s record as a proof of having license in the past. For a person with prior DUI/DWI conviction, it’s advisable to enroll in Traffic Alcohol Program.


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