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Consequences of a First-Time DUI Offense in Washington, DC

Being arrested for a DUI, even if it’s your first offense, can have significant repercussions on your life. Learn more here from a DC DUI lawyer.

Have You Been Charged With a First-Time DUI Offense in DC?


Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in Washington, DC. If convicted, the defendant could face severe punishment, including hefty fines, a lengthy sentence in the county jail, license suspension or revocation, and other life-changing consequences. However, the severity of one’s penalties will depend on their number of previous DUI offenses and other surrounding circumstances.

A DUI is considered a first-time offense if the driver has no previous DUI convictions within their lifetime. While a first-time DUI charge in Washington, DC, is considered a misdemeanor, there are still significant consequences that come with an arrest or conviction.

If you have been arrested and charged with a misdemeanor DUI offense or if you are under investigation for a DUI offense, it is imperative that you retain a highly-skilled DC DUI attorney to protect your rights and outline your defense strategy.

Aside from a mandatory minimum jail sentence, fines, and other penalties, other consequences could arise from a DUI conviction. Consequences from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are separate from the court case. After a DUI arrest, you have to request an administrative hearing at the DMV within ten days since you will be eligible for a mandatory driver’s license revocation or license suspension.

In some cases, a driver with a revoked or suspended license can request a restricted driver’s license from the DMV, but only in case, the revocation didn’t occur because of a DUI or DWI offense. A restricted license will allow the individual to go to work or school or to other locations that the DMV or the court have approved. But, the individual will have to demonstrate that losing their driver’s license will produce extreme hardship.

Attorney Joseph A. Scrofano of Scrofano Law is dedicated to providing comprehensive legal guidance and strong representation to clients facing drunk driving charges. As your legal counsel, we can evaluate the circumstances surrounding your unique situation, conduct a thorough investigation, and strategize an effective legal defense for your case. Our experienced DC DUI lawyer will dispute the allegations against you with overwhelming evidence and maximize your prospects of the best possible outcome.

First-Time DUI Charge Categories in Washington, DC


Under Washington, DC DUI laws, it is unlawful to operate or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of controlled substances, alcohol, or drugs. A DUI is considered a first offense in the district if the driver has had no previous DUI convictions within the past 15 years.

There are three main types of charges that an individual may face if they are accused of driving under the influence: DUI, DWI, and OWI.

A person may be convicted for a DUI for driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is no minimum blood alcohol content required to be arrested for a DUI. A DWI is for drivers over the age of 21 who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, while an OWI applies to drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs to the extent that the person’s driving ability is limited.

Thankfully, there are options. If your BAC was under .20 as a first-time offender, you might be eligible for a pretrial diversion program, so reach out to our law firm today to explore your options and get the help you need.

What Happens When You Are Charged With a First Time DUI Conviction?


As mentioned above, BAC is not the only factor involved in determining if a driver is driving under the influence in Washington, DC. To be charged with a first-time offense for DUI, you will likely be examined by a law enforcement officer, who will rely on the following information to make an arrest:

  • The physical appearance of the driver
  • Driving pattern
  • Field sobriety test

Keep in mind that you are not required to perform the field sobriety test in DC, but if you refuse to submit to a chemical test either during the arrest or later at the police station, that can be held against you. If you are arrested for DUI, you will be taken to the local police department to be booked on the offense and have the DUI charges officially filed against you.

As soon as you arrive at the police station, you should call a lawyer. Our team at Scrofano Law proudly represents clients facing DUI charges across Washington, DC, and the surrounding areas.


What Is an Implied Consent?

Under DC laws, you are obligated to give a sample for a breath test, blood test, chemical, or urine test. Implied consent means that if you are driving on the streets of DC, you are implicitly giving your consent to give such a sample if you are requested to do so from a law enforcement officer.

You also have the right to refuse to provide a sample, but you may face the consequences, such as a mandatory revocation of your driving privileges for one year. You may also be notified that refusing the tests can be used as evidence against you at trial. A prosecutor may argue that you knew you were ‘under the influence’ and didn’t want to provide the evidence.

If you intend to fight your drunk driving allegations after being arrested for a first-time DUI, Attorney Joseph A. Scrofano will defend you vigorously in your case, protect your driving privileges, attempt to establish your innocence, and keep your record clean.

DUI First Offense Jail Time & Other Consequences


Washington, DC has zero-tolerance for driving under the influence, and a first-time DUI conviction often attracts devastating consequences lasting long after the offense.


What Is the Possible Maximum Jail Time for a First Offense DUI (Driving Under the Influence)?

A first-offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor in Washington, DC. If you have been charged with DUI in Washington DC for the first time, the possible criminal penalties include:

1- Time in jail

The mandatory minimum sentence is five days with the potential of up to 180 days (equaling the possibility of up to six months in jail), depending on the BAC of the DUI offender at the time of the arrest.

2- Fines

Depending on the DUI charge, you will be liable to pay a fine of up to $1,000, along with court costs.

3- Driver’s license suspension

Once convicted of your first DUI offense, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months, thereby losing your freedom to drive a car. You may be able to apply for a restricted license, but you will only be able to use it to drive to work and school.

4- Probation

First-time DUI offenders have to take part in probation consisting of a traffic alcohol program, a traffic safety program, and a Victim Impact Panel, among other requirements.

5- Treatment program

A treatment program has been designed for DUI offenders that include a sobriety program, alcohol treatment program, or substance abuse treatment program.

6- Community service

For DUI offenders, community service is another penalty they have faced. You will know the mandatory community service hours by the court that you will have to serve.

7- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device

One year after license suspension and during the probation period. An ignition interlock device (IID) is a small handheld car breathalyzer device that is used to measure the quantity or percentage of alcohol in the driver’s breath.

Following a drunk driving conviction in Washington DC, the IID remains a common requirement. The ignition interlock device prevents the driver from starting the motor vehicle until he or she has taken a breath alcohol test.

Being placed on probation doesn’t mean your offense is forgotten. You have to stay out of trouble for a specific period of time as well as complete other requirements the judge thinks are appropriate such as community service.

Probation conditions may also require that you don’t drive with a measurable amount of alcohol in your system. In case you violate your probation requirements, you may end up in jail. However, if you successfully complete probation requirements, you will not serve any of the suspended jail time.

Keep in mind that these possible consequences only apply if you are convicted of a DUI for the first time, and the above list does not take aggravating factors like additional offenses committed at the same time as the DUI into account. If you were accused of driving over the legal limit of blood alcohol in DC along with additional charges such as reckless driving, you might face even greater penalties.


Other Possible Penalties for First-Time DUI Arrest in DC

In addition to the above criminal penalties such as fines, a county jail sentence, and license suspension, there are other social ramifications involved if you are convicted of a DUI.

Some possible consequences of a first-time DUI conviction are outlined below:

  • A DUI conviction will show up on your criminal record and may affect your current job and future employment opportunities.
  • After your first offense DUI conviction, your auto insurance company will likely increase your rate significantly.
  • Being convicted of DUI may hinder your education opportunities.
  • Family and friends may feel differently about you after your DUI conviction, thereby affecting your personal relationships. If you are able to keep your job, the way your coworkers and employer perceive or relate with you after a first DUI conviction may also be adversely affected.

This is just a brief overview of the potential consequences of a DC DUI, which is why it’s essential to contact a criminal defense attorney for legal help if you’ve been arrested for DUI.

Why You Need an Experienced Attorney for a First Misdemeanor DUI


A DUI arrest and conviction can have serious ramifications on your reputation, education, career, finances, quality of life, freedom, and future opportunities. This is why you should never plead guilty without a fight. If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, you need to retain an aggressive Washington, DC DUI defense attorney immediately to defend your rights.

Our firm proudly represents clients across Washington, DC, and the surrounding communities. Contact Attorney Joseph A. Scrofano of Scrofano Law at 202-630-0949 today to tell us about your case and schedule a consultation. When we meet with you, we can offer you the experienced legal advice, strong advocacy, and aggressive representation you need to begin moving forward.


We Fight For Your Rights