Washington D.C.’s Underage DUI/DWI Laws and Penalties

The definition and consequences of an under-21 driving under the influence conviction.

The District of Columbia has three types of impaired driving violations:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI). Any person can get a DUI for operating a vehicle while impaired to the extent that he or she is less able to exercise clear judgment.
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI). A motorist who's younger than 21 years old can get a DWI for driving with any measurable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) (for other drivers, the limit is .08%).
  • Operating while impaired (OWI). Any motorist can get an OWI for driving while notably affected by drugs or alcohol, a lower level of impairment than what's required for a DUI conviction.

So, Washington D.C. is a "zero tolerance" jurisdiction—meaning, drivers who are under the age of 21 aren't allowed to have any alcohol in their system while operating a vehicle.

Underage DUI/DWI Penalties

In many jurisdictions, the penalties for an underage DUI are different than those that apply to drivers who are at least 21 years old. However, in Washington D.C., the consequences of an underage DWI are identical to those for a standard DWI.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense


Up to 180 days

10 days to 1 year

15 days to 1 year



$2,500 to $5,000

$2,500 to $10,000

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

6 months

One year

Two years

Excessive BACs. Underage motorists who are cited for driving with a particularly high BAC face the following additional penalties:

  • BAC of at least .20%. Additional five days of mandatory jail time
  • BAC of at least .25%. Additional ten days of mandatory jail time, and
  • BAC of at least .30%. Additional 15 days of mandatory jail time.

Illegal drugs. Underage drivers who are caught operating a vehicle with a schedule I controlled substances, such as heroin or cocaine, in their body will receive an additional ten days mandatory jail time.

License revocation. A third DWI conviction within five years will result in license revocation for five years. But the driver may be eligible for a restricted license during the revocation period.

Implied Consent

All Washington D.C. drivers, regardless of age, are subject to the territory's implied consent laws. These laws require all drivers who are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence to submit to a test to determine the presence of alcohol and/or drugs. An unlawful refusal will result in a 12-month license revocation.

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