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Alcohol in the Body and How It Can Impact a DUI Arrest

 The helpful attorneys at Scrofano Law P.C. present this comprehensive guide: “Alcohol in the Body and How It Can Impact a DUI Arrest.” For more info, call now!

How Alcohol Consumption Influences DUI Arrests

If you or a family member is dealing with an alcohol-based DUI Arrest in DC, you might have questions about how alcohol affects a person’s driving and the legally acceptable alcohol consumption limits for DC drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the smallest amount of alcohol affects the central nervous system, how the human body functions, and can impair a person’s driving ability. For example, consuming a glass or two of an alcoholic beverage would likely result in a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02. Even at that low point, the consumer’s visual function and ability to perform two tasks simultaneously are decreased.

Alcohol-impaired drivers who have consumed larger amounts of alcohol may also experience several challenges, including decreased motor skills, poor hearing/vision, impaired judgment, and reduced information processing ability. All of these lead to impaired driving and contribute to motor vehicle crashes.

However, while you shouldn’t drink and drive or drive while drunk, DC law does not entirely prohibit alcohol consumption for DC drivers. Instead, the law prescribes legal limits of alcohol consumption beyond which a driver or motor vehicle operator may be arrested and charged with a DUI offense. So, while mere consumption of alcohol does not usually lead to a DUI arrest, excessive alcohol consumption might.

How Is Excess Alcohol Consumption Determined Before a DUI Arrest Is Made?


DC law enforcement officers can pull you over and arrest you if they suspect you’re drunk, perhaps due to your reckless driving. But the extent of your alcohol consumption can only be determined by a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine. If the result of the test shows that the alcohol in your body exceeds the stipulated legal limit, then you’ll likely be charged with a DUI.

But the Code of the District of Columbia is specific on the procedure for chemical testing. It excludes handheld, portable breath testing instruments or roadside breath tests from the definition of chemical tests. Since these portable alcohol test kits do not qualify as chemical tests, any result obtained from there cannot be used to determine a person’s liability for a DC DUI. If you were arrested or charged with a DUI based on results from a roadside DUI breath test, you might be able to get your charges dismissed because the wrong testing procedure was followed.

Chemical tests are often performed after the suspected drunk driver has been arrested and taken to the police station. As such, there might be a discrepancy between the driver’s blood alcohol content levels at the time of arrest and when the test was performed. Nevertheless, tests conducted within three hours of arrest generally remain valid.

What Are the Prohibited Levels of Alcohol Consumption for DC Drivers? 

The prohibited levels of alcohol consumption for different kinds of drivers in DC are as follows:

Regular Drivers

The minimum prohibited alcohol consumption level for regular DC drivers varies depending on the nature of the specimen used during the chemical test. For blood tests, an alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood is grounds for a DUI charge.

For urine tests, an alcohol concentration level of at least 0.10 grams per 100 milliliters of urine is prohibited. If a breath test is done, a minimum alcohol concentration level of 0.08 grams per 210 liters of the driver’s breath can lead to a DUI charge.

Commercial Drivers

The legal limit for individuals holding a commercial driver’s license CDL is lower than those for regular drivers at 0.04 grams for blood or breath tests and 0.08 for urine tests.

Underage Drivers

In the District of Columbia, it is illegal for individuals under 21 to consume alcohol. As such, if the chemical test detects the slightest sign of alcohol absorption in the suspect’s bloodstream, no matter how small, they can be charged with a DUI. 

Can You Refuse the Chemical Test for Alcohol Consumption?


If you’re pulled over or arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, you can refuse to take the chemical test. But your refusal could lead to several sanctions, including a mandatory one-year revocation of your driver’s license. So, before refusing to take the test, consider getting legal advice from an experienced DUI attorney who can help you understand the implications of your choice.


Does Your Alcohol Consumption Level Determine Your DC DUI Penalties if Convicted?


Not only do your chemical test results determine your liability for a DUI offense, but they also affect the penalties you could face if convicted.

For example, the consequences of a first-time DUI offense include imprisonment for not more than 180 days, a $1,000 fine, or both fine and imprisonment. However, if the chemical test results show an alcohol concentration level of at least 0.20 for blood/breath tests or 0.25 grams for urine tests, the offender would face a mandatory minimum sentence of ten days.

Therefore the higher your alcohol consumption level, the higher the penalties you’ll face upon a conviction.

How Can a DUI Attorney Help After a Drunk Driving Arrest?

If you’ve been arrested for an alcohol-related DUI, consider contacting an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you and ensure that the law enforcement officers follow the proper procedure and that your rights are protected.

If your case is already pending in court, your lawyer can evaluate your charges and the evidence against you and help you establish a suitable defense that could see your charges dismissed or reduced. 

Your lawyer, in such circumstances, stands as a buffer between you and the harsh penalties of the criminal justice system. You can rest a bit easier knowing that you have a formidable professional in your corner working to ensure a favorable outcome for you.

If you have further questions on alcohol-related DUIs or you’d like your DUI charges explained, reach out to us at Scrofano Law, PC. We’d be glad to provide answers and help you resolve any issues with your DUI case.

Contact us and let us help you find a way out of your DUI charges.


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