D.C. Second-Offense DUI

The fines, jail, and license penalties resulting from a second-offense DUI conviction in the District of Columbia.

In Washington, D.C., a second impaired driving incident in 15 years is considered a second offense and carries mandatory jail, fines, and license revocation. This article explains the possible penalties as well as certain factors that can affect these penalties.

Criminal Penalties

D.C. has three types of impaired driving: DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated), and OWI (operating while impaired).

  • A driver is considered to be driving under the influence (DUI) when he or she is less able to exercise the clear judgment necessary for operating a vehicle.
  • A driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more is considered to be driving while intoxicated (DWI).
  • Operating while impaired (OWI) is a lower impairment standard than DUI and only requires that the driver's ability to operate be noticeably affected by alcohol or drugs.

An OWI, a DUI, or a DWI is considered a second offense if the driver has any prior offense (OWI, DUI, or DWI) within the last 15 years.

DUI and DWI Penalties

Standard penalties. The penalties are the same for either a second offense DUI or DWI. A conviction will result in $2,500 to $5,000 in fines, ten days to one year in jail, and a treatment program based on the offender's alcohol and drug history. The required jail time increases if the driver had a high BAC or illicit drugs in his or her system.

Test Result

Mandatory Jail Time

.20% or more BAC

15 days

.25% or more BAC

20 days

.30% or more BAC

25 days

Illicit drugs (such as heroin and cocaine)

20 days

Minor passengers. Driving with a minor passenger will result in $500 to $1,000 in additional fines and five days of mandatory jail time per minor passenger. The offender must serve ten days per minor passenger if the minor was not properly restrained according to D.C.'s child safety seat laws.

OWI Penalties

Operating while impaired is a lesser offense and carries $1,000 to $2,500 in fines and five days to one year in jail for a second offense. The court will assess the driver's alcohol and drug history and order an appropriate treatment program. An OWI involving minor passengers will also carry the same additional fines and mandatory jail time as stated above.

Driver's License Revocation

In addition to the other penalties, repeat offenders will have their vehicle impounded for 24 hours and have their license revoked for 12 months. The offender is required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) during the revocation period.

Under Washington, D.C.'s implied consent laws, a driver who unlawfully refuses a chemical test will lose his or her license for one year. Refusing a chemical test also creates a rebuttable presumption that the driver was impaired.

Plea Negotiations

While diversions are not available for repeat violations, plea negotiations can sometimes be used to reduce or eliminate certain DUI penalties. Unless the driver refused testing, the prosecutor might even agree to reduce the charges. Visit with a qualified attorney to discuss these possibilities.

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