District of Columbia First-Offense DUI

The fines, jail, and license penalties resulting from a first-offense DUI conviction in Washington, D.C.

A first-offense impaired driving conviction in D.C. is a misdemeanor. But the penalties depend on the level of impairment and a number of other factors. This article discusses how impaired driving can be charged as well as the possible penalties for a first DUI conviction in the District of Columbia.

Criminal Charges for Driving Under the Influence

There are three types of impaired driving in the District of Columbia: driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), and operating while impaired (OWI). DWI is defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08%. A DUI is based on actual impairment and a conviction requires proof that the driver was less able to exercise the clear judgment necessary for the operation of a vehicle. An OWI is a lesser offense (and carries less severe penalties) and only requires proof that the driver's ability to operate be perceivably or noticeably affected by the substances ingested.

An OWI, DUI, or DWI will be considered a first offense if the offender has no prior impaired driving offenses within the last 15 years.

DUI and DWI Penalties

Standard penalties. A first-offense DUI or DWI will result in up to $1,000 in fines and a maximum of 180 days in jail. The offender's vehicle will be impounded for at least 24 hours. The driver also faces a six-month license revocation. Generally, restricted driving privileges are available with an installed ignition interlock device (IID).

Aggravating factors. Driving with a minor passenger will result in $500 to $1,000 in additional fines and five (ten if not properly restrained) days of mandatory jail time per minor passenger. Also, the driver will face enhanced penalties if a chemical test shows the presence of illicit drugs or a high BAC.

Test Result

Mandatory Jail Time

.20% or more BAC

Ten days

.25% or more BAC

15 days

.30% or more BAC

20 days

Illicit drugs (such as heroin and cocaine)

15 days

OWI Penalties

Operating while impaired will generally result in a maximum of 90 days in jail, vehicle impoundment, and up to $500 in fines. The driver's license will be revoked for six months, but restricted driving privileges are available with an IID. An OWI involving minor passengers will also carry the same fines and jail requirements as stated above.

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