Washington DC DUI Laws & Penalties

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DC DUI Law states that it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater.  The District of Columbia also operates under a 'zero tolerance' law for anyone under 21 years of age, meaning that if a person under 21 is stopped and has any measurable amount of alcohol in their system they will be arrested for driving under the influence.

Under DC DUI laws you may also be arrested for DUI even if your blood alcohol level is below the legal limit.  If the officer who stopped you feels that you are showing signs of impairment other than your BAC level, like the officer's observation of your driving behavior before stopping you or for failing any part of the field sobriety tests, if you submitted to them.

When you are arrested for DUI in the District of Columbia the arresting officer will issue you an Order of Proposed Suspension.  If you are a DC resident you only have 5 days from the date of the issuance of Proposed Suspension in which to schedule an administrative review of the suspension with the DMV.  If you are not a resident of DC you only have 10 days in which to schedule an administrative review of the suspension.

You may schedule your DMV hearing in-person at the Adjudication Services center at 301 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 or by mail by writing to: Permit Hearing Offices P.O. Box 91980, Washington DC 20090.

DC Administrative Hearing Process

A DC administrative hearing is referred to as a show cause hearing, at the hearing the hearing examiner will review the information presented by the arresting officer and hear testimony from the officer regarding your case.  After hearing the officer's testimony the examiner will hear testimony from you and your lawyer (if your lawyer attends the hearing with you, highly recommended), review any documentation you have such as having completed an alcohol counseling program and any witnesses that you have.

After hearing your case and reviewing the evidence in your defense, the hearing examiner will make his or her decision as to whether or not to reinstate your driver's license or to uphold the arresting officer's suspension.  If your request for reinstatement is denied, the hearing examiner will give the specific reason(s) for the denial and advise you of what actions will be required on your part for reinstatement.

Obtaining A DC Restricted Driver's License

If the hearing examiner upholds the suspension of your license you may be eligible for a restricted license which will allow you to drive only in certain situation like to and from work or school.  To find out if you are eligible for a restricted license you need to request a hearing with Adjudication Services.

DC First Offense DUI

A first offense DUI charge in DC means that your blood alcohol concentration was .08% or greater or the arresting officer had probable cause like failing the field sobriety tests and you have had no prior DUI convictions.  A first offense DUI charge is considered a misdemeanor charge and carries the following penalties:

Jail time: The jail sentence for a first offense DUI in DC can be up to 180 days.  The length of jail sentence will be at the court's discretion.
Fines: The minimum fine for a first offense charge is $300 and the maximum fine is $1,000.  The amount of the fine will be at the court's discretion and will be based upon the circumstances surrounding your case.
License revocation: Your driver's license will be revoked for 6 months following a first offense conviction.  To find out if you are eligible for a restricted license you will need to schedule a hearing with the DMV Adjudication Services.  You will also be required to file a proof of financial responsibility in the form of DC SR22 insurance and pay a $98 reinstatement fee before the DMV will reinstate your license.

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DC Second Offense DUI

A second offense DUI charge in DC means that your blood alcohol concentration was .08% or greater or the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest you like failing the field sobriety tests and you have been convicted of one prior DUI offense.  A second offense charge is considered a misdemeanor charge and carries the following penalties:

Jail time: The jail sentence for a second offense charge is a minimum of 10 days up to 1-year in jail.  The length of the jail sentence will be at the court's discretion and based upon the circumstances surrounding your arrest and previous convictions.
Fines: The minimum fine for a second offense charge is $2,500 and can range up to $5,000 depending upon the circumstances surrounding your case and the previous charges.  The actual amount of the fine is at the court's discretion.
Alcohol education: At the court's discretion you may be required to attend and successfully complete an alcohol assessment and treatment class.
License revocation: Your license will be revoked for 1-year following a second offense charge.  You will also be required to file a proof of financial responsibility in the form of DC SR22 insurance and pay a $98 reinstatement fee before the DMV will reinstate your license.

DC Third Offense DUI

A third DUI offense in the District of Columbia carries the following penalties:

Jail time: The jail sentence for a third or subsequent offense can be up to 1-year in jail.  The actual amount of time spent in jail will be at the court's discretion and based upon the circumstances surrounding your case and the previous convictions.
Fines: The minimum fine for a third or subsequent offense DUI charge is $2,500 and can go as high as $10,000 at the court's discretion.  The fine amount will be based upon the circumstances surrounding the offense, plus your previous convictions.
Alcohol education: At the court's discretion you may be required to attend and successfully complete an alcohol assessment and treatment class.
License revocation: Your license will be revoked for 2-years following a third or subsequent offense charge.  You will also be required to file a proof of financial responsibility in the form of Washington DC SR22 insurance and pay a $98 license reinstatement fee before the DMV will reinstate your license.

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DC SR22 Requirements

Before the DC DMV will reinstate your license following your revocation period or before issuing you a restricted license, they will require you to file an SR22 form with them before issuing you a new license. You will be required to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years.

At anytime during this 3-year period if there is a lapse in your District of Columbia SR22 insurance coverage, your insurance provider is obligated by law to immediately inform the DC DMV of the lapse.  If a lapse in coverage occurs, the DC DMV will immediately suspended your license and you will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the DMV before they will issue you another license.

Since you are going to have to have your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years, it is important to find the cheapest policy you can before choosing one.  DUI Process has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the District of Columbia and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find a SR22 insurance policy in DC for any less. Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.

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Other Washington DC DUI Resources

  • DC First Offense DUI - First offense information including penalties, fines, potential jail time, license suspension, DUI classes, and much more.

  • DC SR22 Insurance Filing - We have compiled everything you need to know about DC's SR22 insurance and filing requirements including important addresses, phone numbers, etc.

  • DC DUI Diversion Programs - We offer a complete listing of state approved alcohol & DUI diversion programs.

  • DC Bail Bondsmen - Comprehensive list of DC bail bond agents including address, phone, website, etc.

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