What Are The Penalties For Drinking & Driving/DUI?
By T. Maddox-Levine, Esq.
The Law Offices of Maddox Levine PLLC
May 18, 2020
The penalties for drinking and driving offenses can vary significantly depending on the facts of the case and on the criminal history of the person involved. This article lists the maximum penalties allowed under the law; however, the maximum penalty is NOT what one should expect to receive when represented by competent and experienced legal counsel.
In Washington, D.C., drinking and driving offenses are charged by Information (i.e. a paper complaint that outlines under which law(s) an offense is charged). The two most common drinking and driving offenses charged are Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Operating While Impaired (OWI). The DC prosecutor generally proceeds on both DUI & OWI; however, the disposal of your case via trial/plea will result in going forward on only one of the two charges and the other charge will be dismissed (because the elements of each offense is the same/only the penalties are different). So, let's examine the penalties of each.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
DUI can be charged as a first offense when: (a) the person arrested has no priors in any jurisdiction or (b) the police/prosecutor may not be aware of any prior convictions at the time the case is “papered”/when the decision is made by the government attorney to prosecute the case.
The maximum penalties listed below are for DUI cases without a chemical test/with test results below the legal limit :
- DUI-1st Offense is 180 days in jail and/or a fine of $1000 (jail time is not mandatory)
- DUI-2nd Offense is 1 year in jail ( 10 days mandatory) and/or $2,500-5,000 fine
- DUI-3rd Offense is 1 year in jail ( 15 days mandatory) and/or $2,500-10,000 fine
- DUI 4+ Offense is 1 year in jail ( 30 days mandatory) and/or fine
Operating While Impaired (OWI)
The maximum penalties listed below are for OWI cases without a chemical test/with test results below the legal limit :
- OWI-1st Offense is 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $500 (jail time is not mandatory)
- OWI-2nd Offense is 1 year in jail (5 days mandatory) and/or $1,000-2,500 fine
- OWI-3rd Offense is 1 year in jail (10 days mandatory) and/or $1,000-5,000 fine
(Subsequent convictions will include additional mandatory jail time and/or fines).
Chemical tests results can increase the penalties as well. For example, if your breath/blood score is 0.20% or higher OR your urine score is 0.25% or higher, you could incur a penalty of additional mandatory jail time.
There can also be additional mandatory minimums for:
- Commercial vehicles: 5-day mandatory minimum
- Restrained child in the car: 5-day mandatory minimum per minor
- Unrestrained child in the car: 10-day mandatory minimum per minor
Schedule I/chemicals listed in §48-902.04 (e.g. PCP, cocaine, morphine, etc.)
1st offense = 15 days 2nd offense = 20 days 3rd offense = 25 days
Finally, drivers under the age of 21/the legal age to consume alcohol can be convicted of DUI/OWI under DC's zero-tolerance policy for any measurable alcohol content detected.
That's knowledge you can use.
DUI Defense Team at the Law Offices of Maddox Levine PLLC
Have you or a loved one been charged with a DUI in Washington, D.C.? If so, it's time to contact a trusted DUI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Maddox Levine, PLLC.
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