The District of Columbia's Drugged Driving Law

Learn about the laws and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Washington D.C.

The District of Columbia’s drugged driving law states: No individual shall operate or be in physical control of any vehicle in the District “while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or any combination thereof.” In other words, in the District of Columbia it’s a crime to drive while impaired from drug use. No blood testing standard is established in the District of Columbia – that is, there is no fixed amount of drugs within the blood system that determines conviction. Whether a driver is impaired is determined on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the prosecutor.

What drugs are prohibited?

The District of Columbia’s drugged driving law is directed at the prohibition of controlled substances -- that is, any drug or chemical regulated by the government. A listing of controlled substances regulated by federal law are found at the Drug Enforcement Administration website. It’s not an acceptable defense to a drugged driving charge to claim that the driver is legally entitled to use the controlled substance.

What happens if a driver is convicted of drug impaired driving in the District of Columbia?

A driver arrested for drugged driving in the District of Columbia will be charged with driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. A conviction for drugged driving will be considered as a prior offense for purposes of calculating punishment regardless of whether a subsequent offense is due to alcohol or drugs. Read more about the District of Columbia’s DUI laws.

Do D.C. drivers have to submit to drug testing?

Yes, there is an implied consent rule for chemical testing. The refusal to take the test can be admitted into evidence against the driver.

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