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What Is a DWI Charge in Washington, DC? 

What is considered a DUI conviction or DWI charge in Washington, DC? Find out in this comprehensive overview from a trusted DC DWI attorney. 

What Is a DWI Charge?

A DWI means driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired. The DWI charge comes up when a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that you are drunk driving or are too impaired to drive. Impairment could result from alcohol consumption, the use of drugs, and other factors. 


What Kind of Charge Is a DWI?

Under DC law, driving while intoxicated DWI refers to breaking the per se laws for driving under the influence. DC uses blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to determine if a driver is driving under the influence of alcohol.

A breath, blood, or urine test is often imposed when a driver is suspected of operating a motor vehicle after alcohol consumption. The DWI offense is charged if the blood alcohol content of the defendant is at 0.08% or higher at the time of testing. The blood alcohol content is evidence that the defendant was intoxicated above the legal limit. This will also lead to DC DUI penalties.

Operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit translates to a severe charge and immediate license suspension. Drivers under the age of 21 can be convicted of DWI with any amount of alcohol in the system.

This DWI standard is not applicable when an individual is stated to have been under the influence of drugs or medication or a mixture of liquor and medication.

Deadly car accidents often stem from driving under the influence of alcohol, which has led to the enactment of strict laws.  DUI and DWI offenders face potentially life-changing charges, and hiring a dedicated DC DUI lawyer will strengthen your defense. Your DUI defense attorney will help you prepare defense strategy to protect your rights in the court and fight against your charges.

Types of DUI Charges

DUI means driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any other intoxicating substance. DC has a zero-tolerance policy to reduce the high rate of accidents caused by driving while impaired. The zero tolerance law doesn’t allow any mercy on DUI and DWI offenders and tends to charge them with maximum penalty. A DUI offense is a formal charge commonly referred to as drunk driving in DC.

The difference between DUI and DWI is that a DUI also involves driving under the effect of an illegal drug, prescribed medication, or a combination of both. 21-year-olds who are impaired can be charged with a DUI even if their BAC falls under 0.08 percent.

If you are charged with a DUI and DWI, you should consider getting a lawyer. Hiring a good DC or Maryland DUI lawyer could help you avoid harsh penalties.

An individual can face the following DWI charges:

Driving with Extremely High BAC – BAC of 0.20 percent is penalized by ten days in jail for a first DUI offense. You will likely face 25 days in jail or more for a second offense.

Driving with a Minor – If you had children in the vehicle, you will face a minimum of 5 days in jail and a fine of $500 for each minor in the car. If the minors did not have a seat belt on, drivers are charged with ten days or more in jail and a fine of $1000 for each child.

Driving Under the Influence of  Illegal Drugs – If your blood systems prove to have cocaine, morphine, or PCP, you MUST serve at least 15 days in jail for the first offense. The second and third offenses will have a higher penalty.

In an instance where an individual is charged with a DUI and DWI in DC, the state imposes the following penalties based on whether it is a subsequent offense:

First Offense – If you have convicted of first-time DUI offense, you will face a jail time of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $1000. The offender may be required to enroll in an alcohol intervention program. Offenders with a Blood Alcohol Content of above 0.20 percent MUST be put behind bars for at least ten days. Offenders with a BAC of above 0.25 percent serve 15 days of jail time, while those with BAC above 0.30 percent must serve at least 20 days. But there are still some circumstances under which a first time DUI defendant could be facing some mandatory jail. To understand things better, you should consult with an attorney.

Second Offense – Within 15 years from the first conviction, a second conviction is charged with fines between $2500 to $5000. This is followed by a mandatory jail time of 10 days. The court may include community service depending on the BAC results.

Third Offense – The court reviews the past 15 years to dictate the proper punishment for subsequent offenses. Third offenses often lead to a driver’s license suspension and fines between $2000 to $10000 and one year behind bars.

Penalties for Commercial Drivers – Offenders employed as drivers may be arrested for drunk driving if they have a BAC of 0.04 and above. A commercial driver, including a cab driver, school bus driver, and delivery truck driver, may be sentenced to serve 180 days in jail and pay fines up to $1000. Commercial drivers have a driver’s license suspension of 6 months and serve a mandatory 5 days or more in jail.

Can DWI Charges Be Dropped in DC?

DWI charges can be dropped based on various circumstances under the law. A defense lawyer may have a basis for arguing that a violation by law enforcement agents denied the defendant the right to a fair trial. The following circumstances could influence whether your charges may be dropped.

  • After the government presents evidence on trial, a lawyer can argue for acquittal because the government has not provided significant evidence to prove the defendant guilty.

  • The government will typically offer special treatment to first-time offenders. The offenders are allowed to make a Deferred Sentencing Agreement. During this period, the driver’s license should not be in use. According to the DSA, a defendant takes a guilty plea, but sentencing is pushed for about six months to allow the defendant to abide by the set conditions. If the defendant proves to have followed the terms of the agreement, the court allows them to withdraw their guilty plea, and the case is dismissed.

  • A DC or Virginia DUI lawyer may use digestive disorders to challenge breath tests leading to the dropping of charges.

What Is a DWI Report?

If you have been given a DWI charge, the police report will form an essential piece of evidence in your case. The police report shows the evidence against you, which your lawyer will use to overcome your trial.

A DWI/DUI report contains a printout of the breathalyzer results, a lab report showing the urine or blood test results, and a narration report from one of the officers who had you arrested. The DUI/DWI report often serves as the backbone of the prosecutors’ case.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are charged with a DUI or DWI, it is crucial to seek an attorney. Building an attorney-client relationship will ensure that you understand your rights and the charges you face. Contact Scrofano Law today to help you with your case.


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