DWI is one charge that D.C. police can impose on drivers who they allege have been drinking and driving. The District of Columbia, unlike many states, has three forms of drunken driving related charges. As a skilled Washington D.C. DUI defense lawyer knows, these charges are all unique and the prosecution must prove specific elements of each crime against the defendant in order to get a conviction.
In order to prove DWI, the police must use urine tests, blood tests or breath tests to scientifically prove that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration was .08 or higher. The second type of offense for drunken driving is DUI. In this case, police must show that the driver was affected by drugs or alcohol and it impaired his or her ability to properly operate a vehicle. This doesn’t necessarily require a blood-alcohol concentration reading; a person can be arrested based on the officer’s observations. Operating while intoxicated (OWI) in Washington D.C. has the lowest standard, as police must only show a person operated a vehicle while somehow impaired.
All of these charges come with penalties of fines and fees and can include jail time — up to 90 days behind bars. But what motorists must consider is that like any device, the measurements police use can be faulty and they can be disputed.
Faulty breath testing machines throughout the country have resulted in dropped cases because they aren’t correctly calibrated or maintained by law enforcement agencies. And field sobriety testing is sometimes recorded by the police cruiser’s surveillance and can dispute the officer’s report.
In the recent case, a man drove off the road near Foxhall and Canal roads around 9 p.m. at night. The man told police he saw a bear and swerved to miss it. Police, however, said there was no sign of a bear in the area and they charged him with driving while intoxicated. (As if the bear would still be hanging out). The car slammed into a canal and blocked the street for hours as crews worked to remove the vehicle, which was completely underwater.
The article doesn’t clarify what the man’s blood alcohol level was at the time of the crash and other factors that may lend credence to police charging him with drunken driving related crime. It’s very possible he could have seen a bear on the roadway even if others didn’t.
In some drunken driving cases, it may be appropriate to bring in a scene reconstruction expert. That is a person who is an expert in how vehicles work in relation to crash scenes. They are often former police officers who have the same training as the officers who testify on behalf of the state.
In a scene reconstruction, an expert can sometimes look at angles, measurements, weather and road conditions and other factors that can dispute the conclusion made by police. In cases where there is an accident and alcohol is suspected to be involved, it is crucial that police have unwavering proof of who caused the accident. Even in cases where a driver has been drinking, the wreck could still be the other driver’s fault.
If you have been charged with a DUI in Washington, DC, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross for a free no-obligation consultation. Visa, MasterCard, and Discover Cards are accepted.