The District of Columbia's DWI (Washington DC DUI) laws allow drivers to be arrested for DUI based on one of two theories. First, if you are driving and appear to be drunk, you can be arrested based on your driving pattern, field sobriety tests, and physical appearance, without the need for blood alcohol content (BAC) testing. If there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove that you are guilty of DUI, you will be arrested.
You can also be arrested based on BAC tests alone. Under the District's per se laws, drivers with a BAC of .08% or higher are guilty of DWI. This does not require that your driving pattern be used to prove your guilt.DWI Arrests in the District of Columbia
After your arrest for DWI in Washington, D.C., you will face two individual cases. The first case is the driver's license case with the Department of Motor Vehicles. This case will determine how long you will lose your right to drive in the District. The second case is the criminal court case. This is prosecuted in the criminal courts, and it will determine the rest of your consequences. You will want to have a qualified attorney working with you at both of these cases to help argue for your innocence.
Washington, D.C. has an implied consent law, which means that the fact that you are driving in the District implies you are consenting to having your blood, breath, or urine tested for BAC. You will be asked to submit to this test after your arrest. You can refuse, but if you do you will face additional punishments in both of your cases. This evidence can be used against you in your criminal court case to help prove that you are guilty of DWI.Basic Consequences for First Time Offenders
If your District of Columbia DWI offense is your first, you will face the following punishments:
The District of Columbia has a look back period of 15 years. Any DWI convictions that are on your record within the past 15 years will be considered when determining whether or not you are a first time offender. You will pay heavier consequences for repeat DWI offenses.License Suspensions for District of Columbia DWI
Your license will be suspended by the DMV as a result of your DWI conviction. Typical license suspension times in the District are as follows:
If you refuse to take the BAC test, you will face at least a 1-year suspension of your license. First-time offenders can take the DWI diversion program. This will allow them to participate in the program and drop all charges and punishments for their DWI offense. However, there are drawbacks to this option, so you should talk to your attorney before making a decision.Insurance Consequences
Your insurance rates will increase dramatically as a result of a DWI conviction in the District of Columbia. Some insurance providers will refuse to cover drivers with previous DWI convictions. If you have family members on your policy, your conviction will affect their rates as well.