Washington DC Drunk Driving Lawyer
DC drunk driving laws are some of the strictest in the nation. Late this past spring, DC DUI laws were changed to become even stricter, with even lower standards for arrest. Every single day there is a good chance someone in the District is spending their first night in jail as the result of a drunk driving charge. Whether charged with a DUI, a DWI, or an OWI, a DC drunk driving lawyer can help you make the best of your situation. Your outlook might be bleak, but an experienced attorney is a crucial advocate to have in your corner.
DC Drunk Driving Laws
The District of Columbia is unique in that there are three drunk driving offenses with which a person can be charged. Driving while intoxicated (DWI), the most serious offense, all but requires the driver’s BAC to meet a certain threshold (above 0.00 for drivers under 21; 0.08 or higher for everyone else). Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or any drug(s) is an offense with equally severe penalties, but which only requires a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08 supplemented with other evidence of impairment (i.e., field sobriety tests, officer’s observations, etc.). Operating a vehicle while impaired (OWI) by alcohol and/or any drug(s) is the least severe offense, with more lenient penalties. Nevertheless, an OWI charge only requires evidence of any degree of impairment from alcohol and/or any drug(s), usually based on the driver’s behavior, appearance, and the officer’s observations.
An OWI charge can lead to a conviction without any evidence of blood alcohol content. As a result of the District of Columbia’s distinction between these three drunk-driving offenses, the less impaired an individual is, the broader and more subjective the standards for arrest. This puts everyone who has had even a single drink at risk of being arrested for drunk driving–always a criminal offense with potential jail-time and heavy fines.
The unique nature of DC’s drunk-driving laws requires an attorney who is up-to-date on the District’s changing laws, specialized in DWI / DUI / OWI criminal defense, and with a track record which reflects experience and success.
Drunk Driving in DC
Your first contact with the DC criminal system will likely be on the side of the road. Do not be fooled by the police officer’s conversational and even potentially friendly demeanor—they are investigating you for drunk driving. An experienced DC drunk driving lawyer would advise you to be cooperative but to not volunteer any information. Simply telling the officer you would prefer to speak with an attorney should stop their line of questioning. Many people do not realize they do not have to answer questions like “How much have you had to drink?” and “Where are you coming from?”
The officer will like use a variety of methods to determine if you are, in fact, under the influence of alcohol. From analyzing your appearance, your speech, and even your scent, they will make mental notes of all evidence and file it in a report. In addition, they will likely ask you to submit to both field sobriety tests and a breath test. The results of these will likely be used in court, although the breath test will likely be supplemented by evidence from chemical (breath, blood, and/or urine) tests carried out at the police station under preferred evidentiary conditions.
A DC drunk driving charge can carry consequences that last a lifetime. From fines to the loss of your driving privileges to jail time, such charges should not be taken lightly. In fact, the District DMV often takes steps to suspend your driver’s license before you are proven guilty (convicted). There are steps to avoid this, but they require an attorney to file for, and then attend, a DMV hearing to stop the process of automatically suspending your license.
DC Drunk Driving Attorney
An experienced attorney knows that not every case is as cut and dry as the police and prosecution would have the court believe. There could be issues with how the traffic stop was executed, how the sobriety tests were performed, and the reliability of any results of those tests. Discussing your case with a DC drunk driving lawyer should be done early in the process. Contact Jason Kalafat for a consultation on your case and to discuss how he might be able to help.
Our firm also offers representation against DUI charges in Maryland, so click the link to learn more about our offices in that state.