D.C. Third-Offense DUI

The fines, jail, and license-related penalties resulting from a third impaired driving conviction in the District of Columbia.

In Washington, D.C., an impaired driving incident is considered a third offense if the driver has two priors within the last 15 years. A conviction carries mandatory jail time, fines, license revocation, and a substance abuse treatment requirement. This article explains DUI sentencing as well as certain factors that can affect these penalties in the District of Columbia.

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.

The two prior offenses required for a third-offense conviction can be any combination of DUIs, DWIs, or OWIs.

DUI and DWI Penalties

Standard penalties. A third-offense DUI and third-offense DWI carry the same penalties. A conviction will result in $2,500 to $10,000 in fines and 15 days to one year in jail. The offender will also be required to complete a substance abuse treatment program. 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

20 days

.25% or more BAC

25 days

.30% or more BAC

30 days

Illicit drugs (such as heroin and cocaine)

25 days

Minor passengers. An impaired driver who has a passenger under the age of 18 years old will face increased penalties. For each minor passenger, the driver will be fined $500 to $1,000 and must serve five days in jail. If the child was not properly restrained in an age-appropriate child passenger safety seat, the offender will serve ten days in jail for each unrestrained minor.

OWI Penalties

While an OWI is a lesser offense than a DUI, a third-offense OWI still carries ten days to one year in jail, $1,000 to $5,000 in fines, and a 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, third offenders will have their vehicle impounded for 24 hours and have their license revoked for two years. If the two prior offenses occurred within the last five years, the license revocation is at least five years. 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—which can come into play at a DUI trial.

Plea Negotiations

The penalties for a third DUI are substantial, but a seasoned attorney may be able to reduce some of the penalties by negotiating with the prosecutor. Visit with a qualified attorney to discuss these possibilities.

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