Washington, DC DUI Lawyer and DUI Defense
The term “driving under the influence” often conjures images of vehicles driving erratically, swerving wildly across lanes, but the truth is that most DUI traffic stops are far less dramatic. In fact, most DUI arrests come after a stop for a minor traffic violation. Rather than being significantly inebriated, many drivers arrested for DUI simply failed to realize just how few drinks it can take to put someone over the legal limit.
If you have never been in trouble with the law, a first offense DUI arrest can be frightening and confusing. If you are facing a second or subsequent DUI offense, you know the impact your conviction may have on your life.
DUI Laws in DC
The most commonly used acronym to refer to an alcohol-related driving offense is DUI, but there are several offenses under the umbrella of DC DUI law:
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Operating While Impaired (OWI)
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is the most straightforward of the three alcohol-related offenses. A person found to be driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher will be charged with DWI in DC. Additionally, anyone under the age of 21 may be charged with DWI if he or she is in control of a vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in the bloodstream.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI), on the other hand, does not require a BAC of .08 or higher. If an officer determines a driver to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer may arrest the driver on a DUI complaint, even if the driver’s BAC is below .08 or the driver has not submitted to any BAC test.
Operating While Impaired (OWI) is similar to a DUI in that no BAC result is required to be charged. The arresting officer can book someone on an OWI complaint if the driver has signs of “impairment,” including physical signs such as watery or bloodshot eyes, difficulties with coordination, or slurred speech. Such impairment may be determined by a driver’s performance on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
A DUI, DWI, and OWI conviction all carry legal penalties of fines, jail, and probation. In addition, those convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses in Washington, DC face administrative and personal consequences including a criminal record that hampers job prospects and dramatically increased insurance premiums. A DC DUI conviction can affect your student status, your security clearance, and your employment opportunities.
Fortunately, a DUI arrest does not have to impact your future negatively. A skilled lawyer will handle your defense and work for the best possible results.
DC DUI Arrest: Your Rights and Responsibilities
A police officer needs to have a legal reason to pull you over. That reason may be as simple as a broken taillight or a rolling stop, or it may be as severe as erratic, reckless driving or excessive speed. If the police officer who stops your vehicle suspects that you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she will likely ask you questions designed to coerce you to admit guilt. You do not have to answer any questions about your activities or whether you have had anything to drink. Be polite and provide your identification, but decline to answer any questions without the advice of your lawyer.
If you are suspected of DUI, the officer may ask you to perform Standardized Field Sobriety Tests or may ask you to submit to a roadside breath test. You do not have to submit to these tests, which are not intended to prove your innocence, but rather to indicate intoxication and prove your guilt.
If you are arrested for driving under the influence, you will be asked to submit to a blood alcohol analysis test, generally through a breath machine, at the police station. In some instances, the officer may request that you submit to a urine test. These tests are required under the District of Columbia’s implied consent law. Your refusal to submit to the official breath or urine test will result in the automatic suspension of your license, regardless of the outcome of your DUI case.
In any DUI case, time is critical. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and begin building your defense.
DUI Defense from an Experienced Attorney
Washington, DC DUI lawyer Jason Kalafat will fight on your behalf. Whether challenging the legality of your traffic stop, arrest, or breathalyzer results, or negotiating a reduced plea or a deferred sentence that will keep you out of jail and keep a conviction off your record, attorney Kalafat will explore every option for the best outcome to your case. He has successfully handled the full spectrum of cases related to DUI. For a free consultation, call Jason Kalafat at (202) 558-4382.