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Here Is What You Need to Know About DC DUI Penalties & Fines

The District of Columbia takes drunk driving very seriously. As a result, DC DUI penalties can be life-altering. Learn more in our guide here.

Washington DC DUI Penalties & Mandatory Minimum Sentence


In this article, you can find out what happens if you have been charged with a DUI offense and how severe the consequences are. However, you need to know that every criminal offense is different if caught drunk while in your vehicle. Look for immediate help and contact a DC criminal lawyer for a free case evaluation.

Being charged with such accusations could instantly change your life, your work activity, and your relationships with your loved ones. If convicted, you will lose your right to drive, struggle with employment, or lose your current job. No matter whether you pay your fines, perform community service, or serve your final sentence, your DUI conviction could and will have a significant impact on your life.

Driving under the influence (DUI) means that a person has driven or operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The criminal offense may not only include the per se action of driving a vehicle but also being in control of it in any way.

There are three types of charges for a DUI criminal offense in Washington, D.C.:

  • Driving while intoxicated;
  • Driving under the influence;
  • Operating while impaired.

Police officers use diverse methods of proving driving-related offenses. From field sobriety tests to breath tests to a blood or urine test, these arguments are often strong enough to establish that a person has been driving while intoxicated.

If an individual is believed to have been operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officers are required to take the person out of this situation and away from the road. Unfortunately, this means that they will be arrested.

Starting from a blood alcohol content (BAC) less than the 0.08 percent national legal limit, an individual can face severe convictions. The penalties for Washington D.C. DUI are as follows:

First Offense

The DUI charges for the first offenses in DC could result in fines up to $1,000, 180 days in jail, and driver’s license revocation. First-time offenders might be enrolled in some sort of diversion program, which may include community service.

Regardless if it is your first offense, the blood alcohol content will often dictate the penalties. Depending on the amount of alcohol detected in your blood, the penalties are as follows:

  • For a BAC over 0.2, a judge imposes mandatory jail time, namely 10 days in jail.
  • This increases to 15 days for a BAC of over 0.25
  • A sentence of 20 days will be imposed for a 0.3 or higher BAC.

Second Offense

DUI charges change if it’s not your first time. The second offense committed within 15 years could bring you fines of $2,500 to $5,000 or a mandatory minimum of ten days in jail and up to one year.


Driving Impaired With a Passenger Under 17 Years of Age

Having a child in the car with you while driving under the influence can worsen these penalties. Such a DUI conviction could lead to additional fines of a minimum of $500 to $1,000 per child. The judge will impose a minimum of five days to ten days in jail depending on whether the child was restrained or unrestrained.

Understanding Penalties For DUI Arrest In the District of Columbia

The majority of the penalties depend on the number of driving offenses within 15 years. For first-time offenders, a judge may decide whether to appoint a fine, jail time, or both. On the other hand, for the second or subsequent offenses, jail time is mandatory. Your DUI defense might change that.

If you have been arrested for DUI in the District of Columbia, you might want to seek the assistance of a trusted DUI attorney.  Ask for a free consultation at 202-946-5783 or contact us through our live chat. 


Additional Washington DC DUI Penalties

It is essential to know that if drivers refuse a DUI/DWI breathalyzer test, their driver’s licenses will be suspended. Your driver’s license might be suspended for up to 1 year, but this only applies to your first-time refusal.

For motor vehicle drivers under the age of 21, the District of Columbia employs a Zero Tolerance Policy. They cannot buy, consume, or possess any alcoholic drinks. 

There are also severe penalties for cab drivers or those driving a commercial vehicle. A driver can be sentenced to 180 days in jail, a driver’s license revocation, and a mandatory minimum of five days in jail.

Penalties For DUI And Reckless Driving In Washington DC

Under Washington, D.C. Law Section 50-2201.04, a DC traffic ticket for reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense. Reckless driving is considered a criminal charge, and an individual can face up to 90 days in jail and 500 dollars in fines. The penalties and time in prison will double to 180 days and 1000 dollars in fines for aggravated reckless driving.

An offense of aggravated reckless driving is when:

  • The driver exceeds the speed limit;
  • Causes bodily harm;
  • Causes property danger;
  • Or drives without a license.

For the first time committing a DUI and reckless driving, you could face up to a $500 fine and be sentenced to a mandatory jail time of 90 days. If convicted for a second DUI offense within two years, expect your penalties to be doubled. 

A third or subsequent reckless driving, the penalties go up to a year in prison and a maximum of $2,500 in fines. 


Legal Code for Driving Under The Influence Penalties Washington DC

According to the Code of the District of Columbia, ‘a person violating any provision of § 50-2206.11 or § 50-2206.12 when the person has two or more prior offenses under § 50-2206.11, § 50-2206.12, or § 50-2206.14 and is being sentenced on the current offense shall be fined not less than $2,500 and not more than $10,000, or incarcerated for not more than one year, or both; provided, that a 15-day mandatory minimum term of incarceration shall be imposed.’ 

A qualified and trusted attorney can help you with your case and explain alcohol-related laws. Together, you will then decide what the best solutions for your case are. Contact us at 202-946-5783 to explore your options and begin moving forward.


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