Call Us: 202-630-0939

What to Expect Following Your DUI Arrest in Washington, D.C.


Facing a DUI arrest can be overwhelming and scary. This guide will inform you of the steps involved in a D.C. DUI arrest to help you know what to expect.

The Basics of DUI Arrests


We’ve all seen and heard the public service announcements against operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And perhaps some of us know someone who has been convicted of DUI.

For every story of getting pulled over DUI checkpoints by the police officers, there appear to be just as many pieces of amateur advice about what to do if you notice red and blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror.

Usually, drunk driving cases begin with a police arrest, followed by a traffic violation and one or more standardized field sobriety tests.


D.C. DUI Process


The DUI procedure is highly sophisticated and technical, and it is not designed to make things easier for the offender. The typical individual cannot be expected to comprehend everything that goes into a successful DUI defense.

However, a qualified Virginia DUI lawyer can help you ensure that you can still drive, provide legal advice, represent you in court, reveal the flaws in the prosecution’s case, and fight to safeguard your rights.

When an officer arrests you on allegations of driving under the influence, the roller-coaster journey of a DUI case has only just begun. The officer will take you in for a blood test or breath test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC).

If your chemical tests reveal a BAC of .08 or higher, you will be charged with driving with a BAC of.08 or higher. If you refuse to take a chemical test, a “refusal” accusation through implied consent laws will be added to your charges, and your license may be suspended for one year.

Following the testing phase, you will be booked and released on bond or a commitment to appear in court (depending on the circumstances and your criminal history). The arresting officer will compile and submit a report to the prosecutor, who will decide whether to prosecute you with a DUI charge or not.


What Happens to Your Driver’s License After a DUI?

The arresting officer will take your driving license and provide you with a pink, 30-day temporary license right away. You have ten calendar days from the date of your arrest to request a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Hearing to decide if your license will be suspended.

If you seek a hearing within that time frame, any license suspension will be postponed until the outcome of the hearing is established. If you do not request a hearing within ten days, the DMV will suspend your license for four months.

You have the right to be represented at this hearing. A DUI attorney knowledgeable of the local DMV and its procedures can make a significant difference in preserving your driving privileges.

Joseph A. Scrofano of Scrofano Law can help you with your DUI charges in Washington, D.C. Contact us today at 202-630-0943 for an attorney-client relationship on your case. The DC DUI defense attorney will guide you through the legal system.

Keep in mind, though, that you may still be subject to the criminal court procedure and the criminal case against you regardless of the outcome of your DMV hearing. At the Scrofano Law Firm, we practice general criminal defense as well and are well-versed in the following criminal proceedings common in DUI cases:

  • Arraignment — Your arraignment should occur within a few days of your arrest, and your counsel can present on your behalf to submit your plea.
  • Pre-Trial Motions — The pre-trial phase begins when you enter a “not guilty” plea. Your counsel will use motions to expose holes in the prosecution’s case and improve your defense.
  • Plea-Bargaining — A good DUI lawyer will point out so many flaws in the prosecution’s case that they will be willing to lower or even DISMISS charges.
  • Trial — Although most DUI arrests may be handled without going to trial, the decision to pursue a jury trial or a bench trial is ultimately yours.
  • Sentencing – If you plead “guilty” or “no contest,” the court will sentence you. The penalties for a DUI vary widely based on the facts of the case and your criminal background.

DUI Arrest Procedures

There are four main DUI procedures to expect when arrested for a DUI in Washington, D.C.


DUI Initial Testing

When police have reasonable suspicion that someone is operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may administer field sobriety tests.

These tests may include the walk and turn test, which requires you to walk in a straight line to pre-determine if you could be above the legal limit. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is another typical field sobriety test. An officer may also perform a portable breath test.

However, these tests are not always reliable, even when completed correctly. If an officer fails to administer the test accurately, the defense may be able to file a petition to suppress the test results to keep them out of the DUI trial. These tests are intended to assess if a police officer has cause to arrest the driver.


Reading Your Rights to You

If you are subjected to custodial interrogation, the police must provide you with a Miranda warning. When defendants are arrested, they are frequently handcuffed, given their rights, and put in a police vehicle.


Chemical Analysis

If you are arrested, you may be exposed to chemical testing of your blood, breath, or urine. These are further police efforts to prove that you were drinking and driving. A chemical test might be used to assess your blood alcohol level and if you were under the influence of drugs.

If your blood sample came back positive, you might feel dejected. On the other hand, a competent attorney may argue the findings of a chemical test if an officer or the lab refuses to fulfill established protocols.

What Happens After a DUI Arrest


After being released from jail for a DUI, the first thing you’ll notice is that you don’t have your driver’s license. Law authorities will immediately seize your driver’s license and provide you with a pink temporary license upon arrest and release.

That temporary license, as well as the information it contains, is crucial. Unfortunately, most individuals will put those documents aside because they are shocked by what they have just experienced, believing they will not need to look at them until they go to court. However, the temporary license requires you to notify the DMV within ten days after its release.

If you do not notify the DMV after ten days, your license will be immediately revoked. If this is your first infraction, you will be suspended for four months.


What Happens When You Get Arrested for DUI

If you are caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will very certainly be searched by the police, your motor vehicle will be towed, and you will be taken to the police station for “booking.”

You may be able to get out of jail within a few hours of being arrested if you post conditional bail or are released “on your recognizance” in specific instances. If you are not freed, you may request that the judge release you at your first court appearance.

Drunk Driving Arrest Facts


  1. The number of drinks ingested over a period determines impairment rather than the type of alcohol drank. Contrary to popular belief, coffee, a cold shower, or sports will not make a person soberer; only time will.
  2. Typically, a drunk driver will drive under the influence 80 times before being arrested.
  3. In America, someone is killed in an under the influence driving accident every 51 minutes. That translates to 27 individuals every day. If you are sober, offer to be the designated driver to guarantee that everyone arrives safely at home. If you have indulged in alcohol, ask a friend who hasn’t to drive you home or take an Uber.
  4. Suppose you are under the age of 21 at the moment of the infraction and receive a DUI conviction. In that case, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year (prior alcohol-related offenses might result in an 18-month suspension).


Facing DUI Charges without an Attorney


It is possible to handle DUI charges without an attorney, but this is not advisable. If you face driving or vehicular charges alone, you should expect very serious consequences. These include the following:

  • being imprisoned
  • losing your driver’s license for a year or even 18 months if convicted of having consumed alcohol under 21 years of age
  • paying very high fines
  • receiving a DUI on your criminal record

Your attorney will help you avoid all that. This attorney will be confident in defending the charges against you, manage any administrative hearings with the judge, and fight for reduced penalties or even exoneration for an innocent defendant.

DUI Arrest Statistics


According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1,024,508 drivers were detained in 2019 for DUI. The arrest rate in the United States is approximately one arrest for every 222 licensed drivers.


Contact a D.C. Attorney Today


Dealing with a DUI arrest is complex and can negatively impact your life for years to come. With the proper DC DUI lawyer by your side, you might change the outcome of your case. Contact Scrofano Law today at 202-630-0943 for a consultation on your case, and let us hear your story. It’s time to fight for your rights!


We Fight For Your Rights