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New DC DUI Laws

DC Official Code § 50-1905

Refusing to submit to chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine) when an officer has reasonable grounds to believe a person was intoxicated or impaired while in physical control of a vehicle results in the loss of license or privilege to drive in the District of Columbia. If, after being told about this section, an individual still refuses, then the Mayor will either revoke the license/privilege to drive in DC for a period of 12 months or, if the person does not have a license, prevent the person from getting a license.

Having a prior conviction under subsections § 50-2206.11,  § 50-2206.12, or § 50-2206.14 and refusing to submit to chemical testing creates a rebuttable presumption that the person is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any combination.

If a person refuses to submit to testing as previously described in this section, that fact is admissible in civil or criminal proceedings that result from the alleged act of driving under the influence.

If a person under arrest refuses to submit to testing as previously described under this section, and the person was in a collision that resulted in a fatality, officers may use whatever reasonable means are at their disposal to collect blood if they believe the person was intoxicated or impaired. However, if the person has valid religious/medical grounds to refuse testing, then the officers may not collect blood, but can use whatever reasonable means are at their disposal to collect breath or urine.

Title 50, Subtitle VII, Chapter 22, Subchapter III-A, Part B – Impaired Operating or Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug § 50-2206.11

It is illegal to physically control a vehicle while intoxicated (Alcohol concentration of .08 or more, or any alcohol if under the age of 21) or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug; commercial vehicle § 50-2206.12

It is illegal to physically control a commercial vehicle while intoxicated (alcohol concentration of .04 or any alcohol if under the age of 21) or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination.

Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug § 50-2206.13

A first time violation of section 3 or 3(a) results in a fine of $1,000 and/or imprisonment for no longer than 180 days. If the alcohol concentration is at least .20 (.25 if measured by urine) then there is a mandatory 10 day minimum of imprisonment. If the alcohol concentration is more than .25 (.32 if measured by urine) then there is a mandatory 15 day minimum of imprisonment. If the alcohol concentration is more than .30 (.39 if measured by urine) then there is a mandatory 20 day minimum of imprisonment. If there was a Schedule I chemical/controlled substance found in the system, then there is a mandatory 15 day minimum of imprisonment.

A second time violation results in a fine no less than $2,500 and no more than $5,000 and/or imprisonment for no longer than one (1) year (with a mandatory 10 day minimum). In addition, there is a mandatory 15 day minimum of imprisonment for an alcohol concentration of at least .20 (.25 if measured by urine) on the most recent offense, a mandatory 20 day minimum of imprisonment for an alcohol concentration of more than .25 (.32 if measured by urine) on the most recent offense, a mandatory 25 day minimum of imprisonment for an alcohol concentration of more than .30 (.39 if measured by urine) on the most recent offense, or a mandatory 20 day minimum of imprisonment for a Schedule I chemical/controlled substance being found in the system.

A third time violation results in a fine no less than $2,500 and no more than $10,000 and/or imprisonment for no longer than a year (with a mandatory 15 day minimum). In addition, there is a mandatory 20 day minimum of imprisonment for an alcohol concentration of at least .20 (.25 if measured by urine) on the most recent offense, a mandatory 25 day minimum of imprisonment for an alcohol concentration of more than .25 (.32 if measured by urine) on the most recent offense, a mandatory 30 day minimum of imprisonment for an alcohol concentration of more than .30 (.39 if measured by urine) on the most recent offense, or a mandatory 25 day minimum of imprisonment for a Schedule I chemical/controlled substance being found in the system.

For each additional violation (if having three prior violations), a mandatory 30 day minimum of imprisonment will be imposed for the most recent offense.

Operating a vehicle while impaired § 50-2206.14

It is illegal to physically control a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or any combination.

Penalty for operating a vehicle while impaired § 50-2206.15

First time violation results in a fine of $500 and/or imprisonment for no longer than 90 days.

Violation with a prior conviction results in a fine no less than $1,000 and no more than $2,500 or imprisoned for no longer than a year provided there is a 5 day mandatory minimum.

Violation with two or more prior convictions results in a fine no less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000 or imprisoned for no longer than a year provided there is a 10 day mandatory minimum.

Operating under the influence of alcohol or a drug; horse-drawn vehicle § 50-2206.16

It is illegal to be in physical control of a horse drawn vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any combination. Violation of this section results in a fine of $500 and/or imprisonment for no longer than 90 days. Civil penalties/fees may also be imposed as alternative sanctions.

Additional penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug; commercial vehicle § 50-2206.17

Violation results in a mandatory 5 day minimum of imprisonment in addition to any penalties under 3(c).

Additional penalty for impaired driving with a minor in vehicle § 50-2206.18

If convicted of any of the previous sections, and while in physical control of the vehicle, a minor was in the vehicle there will be a fine of no less than $500 and no more than $1,000 per minor and a mandatory 5 day minimum of imprisonment per minor if they were appropriately restrained or a mandatory 10 day minimum of imprisonment per minor if they were not appropriately restrained.

Operating under the influence of alcohol or a drug; watercraft § 50-2206.31

It is illegal to be in physical control of a watercraft while intoxicated (alcohol concentration of .08 or any alcohol under the age of 21) or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any combination.

Penalties for operating watercraft under the influence of alcohol or a drug § 50-2206.32

It is illegal to be in physical control of a watercraft while intoxicated (alcohol concentration of .08 or any alcohol under the age of 21) or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any combination.

First time violation results in a fine of $1,000 and/or imprisonment for no longer than 180 days.

Violation with any prior convictions results in a fine no less than $2,500 and no more than $5,000, and/or imprisonment for no longer than one (1) year.

Violation with two or more prior convictions results in a fine no less than $2,500 and no more than $10,000, and/or imprisonment for no longer than one (1) year.

Operating a watercraft while impaired § 50-2206.33

It is illegal to be in physical control of a watercraft while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or any combination.

Washington, DC DUI lawyer Jason Kalafat on how this new law could affect the ways DUIs are handled in the justice system:

“These new changes in the DUI laws will put more power in the hands of the prosecutor in a DUI case. They have greater control over the plea bargaining process whenever they can allege mandatory jail time. Whenever you give the prosecutor that additional power, you reduce the amount of discretion allowed to the judge. This system will give more control of the outcome of the case to the person who has discretion on what charges to bring and what plea offer to extend in a case.”