Learn More About DWIs

District of Columbia DUI & DWI Laws

Feb 23, 2016

In DC, a person can be arrested for a “Driving Under the Influence,” or DUI if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher. A DUI, or driving under the influence, is a drunk driving conviction where the BAC is above the legal alcohol limit, rendering the driver legally impaired.

The legal limit in DC is as follows:

  • Standard, non-commercial drivers: 0.08% BAC
  • Drivers under 21: 0.01% BAC

Penalties, Fines, & Suspension

Penalties, Fines, & Suspension

Penalty 1st offense 2nd offense 3rd offense
Sentence Up to 180 days in jail Up to 1 year in jail Up to 1 year
Fine Up to $1000 Up to $5,000 Up to $10,000
Driver’s License Suspension 6 month revocation 1 year revocation 2 year revocation

Chemical Test Refusal

Under DC’s “implied consent” law, anyone with a DC driver’s license has agreed to take a chemical test, such as a breath analyzer, if arrested or stopped for a DWI. If you do not comply with the chemical test, DC can suspend a person’s driving privileges. If a person refuses a chemical test multiple times, the punishment is increased. All driver’s license are subject to driver’s license suspension for chemical test refusal is in addition to any punishment for the DUI conviction. If you do not comply this chemical test, a driver could receive 1 year license suspension.

Ignition Interlock

Ignition Interlock devices are discretionary in DUI cases in DC. If an ignition interlock is required, a dashboard breath tester will be installed in their vehicle for a determined amount of time. The installation and maintenance fees are the responsibility of the driver.

Criminal Record

In DC, a DWI can stay on your record for up to 10 years. That means that the courts can (and, likely, will) use a previous DWI conviction to increase penalties in the event of another DWI. After a second DWI offense, the charge will likely be upgraded to a more serious charge.

Under 21

DC has a “Zero Tolerance” law when it comes to minors drinking and driving. DC increases penalties for anyone under 21 that has a measurable amount of alcohol registered in a chemical test. If a minor registers over 0.01%, they can be charged and receive the same penalties as an adult.

DWI with a Child Passenger

If a driver is convicted of a DUI while they have a child under 16 in their vehicle, there are additional, enhanced penalties associated with the charge. For the first offense, a driver will receive 5 additional days to their sentence and a $500 fine for each minor that is properly restrained (via seatbelts, car seats, etc.) and 10 additional days and a $1,000 fine for each minor that is not properly restrained.

More on DC DUI Laws:

DC Metropolitan Police Department Penalties for Drinking and Driving:

Toward Zero Deaths DC:

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Updated: May 24, 2016 at 10:53 am