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The Basics of Washington, D.C., DUI Laws

It doesn't matter if you live in Dupont Circle, Spring Valley or Brentwood. A Washington, D.C., DUI is a serious crime that can result in significant penalties.

If you have been arrested for committing DUI in Washington, D.C., you will want to hire a Washington, D.C., DUI lawyer. This article will explain the basics of D.C. DUI laws and the process of hiring a lawyer.

What Is a Washington, D.C., DUI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence. In the District of Columbia, you can be arrested for DUI if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher.

BAC is the measure of alcohol in your blood. A BAC of .08 means that your blood contains eight one-hundredths of a percent of alcohol.

However, you can be charged with DUI even if your BAC is below .08. Under Washington, D.C., DUI laws, if a police officer judges you to be too impaired to drive even if your BAC is under .08, he can arrest you for drunk driving.

The Washington, D.C., DUI Process

The District of Columbia DUI process begins when a police officer pulls you over. He may pull you over for a traffic violation, such as speeding, or for reckless driving. He may also pull you over if you drive into a sobriety checkpoint. A sobriety checkpoint is a predetermined location where police officers pull over random drivers and check them for drunk driving.

Once you are pulled over, the officer may ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests are intended to gauge your impairment. Examples of field sobriety tests include:

  • Standing on one foot with the other foot six inches off the ground
  • Walking heel to toe in a straight line, turning and then walking back
  • Following a light with your eyes while keeping your head and neck still
  • If you perform poorly on the field sobriety test, the officer can arrest you for drunk driving. He may also ask you to submit to BAC testing, such as a breathalyzer. A breathalyzer is a device that can read your BAC by detecting the alcohol content of your breath. If you refuse to submit to BAC testing, you may have your license suspended. This is part of the Washington, D.C., implied consent law.

    District of Columbia DUI Penalties

    Punishments for a first-time Washington, D.C., DUI offender include:

    • Jail time for up to 90 days
    • A fine ranging from $300 to $1,000
    • License suspension for six months

    Punishments for a second offense include:

    • Jail time for up to one year
    • A fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000
    • License suspension for a year

    If you are convicted of a third DUI offense in D.C., you may face the following penalties:

    • Jail time for up to one year
    • A fine ranging from $2,000 to $10,000
    • License suspension for two years

    Hiring a Washington, D.C., DUI Lawyer

    If you are charged with a DUI, you will want to hire a Washington, D.C., DUI lawyer.

    Either you or someone you trust should take the necessary steps to investigate Washington, D.C., DUI attorneys for you.

    You can begin your search by asking friends and family members for recommendations. If they have used a D.C. DUI attorney in the past, they may be able to provide you with a referral.

    You can also use a site like With, you can fill out an online questionnaire or call us at 1-877-913-7222. We will then provide you with the names of at least one Washington, D.C., DUI attorney. You can then contact the attorney at your convenience, or the lawyer will get in touch with you within two business days.

    You should then set up initial consultations with attorneys you are interested in hiring. These consultations provide you with an opportunity to get to know the lawyer and familiarize him with your case. The primary purpose of the meeting is to decide whether you want to hire the lawyer to represent you.

    Bring a pen and paper to take notes with.

    Questions you should consider asking include:

    • How much of the attorney's practice is Washington, D.C., DUI cases?
    • How long has he been working on D.C. DUI cases?
    • Would he be the attorney working on your DUI case?
    • What type of fee arrangement does he use?
    • What does he think of your case?
    • If you have a question for the attorney, how can you get in touch with him?

    Once you have had a chance to speak to the attorneys you are interested in, you should be able to make an informed hiring decision.