Getting arrested for a DUI in Washington, DC is a traumatic experience. You are driving after have a couple of drinks, but feel you are fine to drive. All of sudden, you get pulled over and the officer starts asking how much you have had drink.
In response to this question, you tell him that you had two beers early in the night, but you are not intoxicated. At this point, the officer calls another officer who is trained in the administration of standardized field sobriety tests. This second officer arrives on the scene and asks you to take a series of tests.
The first test the officer gives you is known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. The officer asks you to follow his pen or flashlight with your eyes. It seems like you did fine on this test, so the officer requests that you do the walk and turn test. This is the DC sobriety test where you take nine steps forward, do a turn, and walk back nine steps.
After completing the walk and turn test, the police officer asks you to do a third test called the one-legged-stand. Once you have completed all three tests, the officer says you have failed and are under arrest for drunk driving.
As a Washington, DC DUI attorney, I constantly speak with people who say they did fine on the sobriety tests, yet the officer still said they failed. The truth is, while these tests are hard to do even while sober, many officers do not know how to properly administer the tests and just fail everyone who takes them.
After being arrested, you are taken to the police station where you are booked and fingerprinted, and then asked to submit to a chemical test. Whether or not you take the test, you are issued a citation and sent home with a court date and a pink piece of paper called a Notice of Proposed Revocation or Suspension.
What should you do next? The first thing you should do is contact an attorney who regularly handles these cases. An attorney who frequently handles Washington, DC DUI cases will be able to tell you that if this your first offence, there is virtually no chance that you will go jail.
These cases are prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. That office makes the same plea offer in virtually every case. They will allow you to plead to guilty in exchange for probation that includes the payment of fines and taking of several traffic and alcohol classes.
While every situation is different, and you should speak with your attorney about the facts of your particular case, you should think carefully if you are being told in a consult that you will likely face jail time, or that firm will work to get you a good plea.
The truth is, you should consider hiring an attorney who is prepared to actually fight the charges and take the case to trial. Pleading guilty, even to a first offense, will result in a conviction.