Arrests in DC DUI Cases

Being arrested under any circumstance can be a frightening experience, not only for the person involved but for family members and friends as well. For this reason, the following is information on where someone will be taken after a typical DUI arrest in DC and what they can expect to happen. For more specific information or to begin building a defense, call and schedule a consultation with a DC DUI lawyer today.

What Takes Place After an Arrest in DC?

When a person is arrested on allegations of Driving Under the Influence in Washington, DC, the first place the police take them is to the local district station. At the local district station, they book and process the person. That means the officers take the person’s fingerprints, ask them to provide a breath sample or possibly urine sample, and the officers decide whether the person can be released. In a DUI case, people are typically automatically released directly from the police station unless they are, at the time of the arrest, on probation or have another pending criminal case.

In the event that the person is on probation or has another pending criminal case then the police, after completing the booking process, take the person to the Central Cell Block where all people who are arrested from different police districts are collected to be brought before the judge the following day.

The person is brought before the judge who has the ability to hold them in jail as a result of their arrest while having another open criminal case. Their lawyer can argue for their release on grounds that the person is not a threat to the community and is not a flight risk, but if someone is arrested for a DUI and does not have any other pending cases and is not on probation, they are usually automatically released from the police station with a citation to appear in court at a later date about three weeks later.

DC Central Booking

DC has a Central Cell Block in the Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters at 300 Indiana Avenue. This Central Cell Block is a holding area where people who have been arrested at the various police districts around the city but are not eligible for immediate release on promise to appear for their arraignment at a later date will be brought.

The purpose of the Central Cell Block is to have a common holding area for the people arrested at the various police districts so that these people can all be brought over to the courthouse at the same time prior to the beginning of arraignment for people who are not eligible for release.

Difference Between Central Booking and Jail

Central Cell Block is not same thing as jail. Central Cell Block is a holding area where people are held until they can appear for their initial court appearance. The DC jail holds people who are awaiting trial but were not eligible to be released while their case is pending. The DC Jail also holds people who are serving jail sentences less than one year.

Jail Time and DUI Charges in DC

When a person faces a first offense DUI charge, the maximum penalty is 180 days in jail. There is no mandatory jail time for first offense DUI which means the judge is not required to give a person any jail time on a first offense DUI. That law does have exceptions, however.

When someone faces a first offense DUI with blood, breath, or urine alcohol content above a certain level, they might be facing mandatory jail time which a judge does not have the option of waiving.

When someone faces a second offense DUI, the maximum amount of jail time they face is up to one year in jail. On a second offense DUI, if they are found guilty, a judge will not be able to give them less than ten days of jail time. That is a floor a person faces on a second offense DUI. That floor increases with each subsequent DUI they get. On a third offense, they face a mandatory minimum of fifteen days and then their mandatory minimum increases with each subsequent DUI.

Mandatory Minimums in DUI Cases

A mandatory minimum under a DC DUI means that the judge is legally required to give the defendant a certain amount of jail time. As an example, if someone is facing a second DUI and found guilty of that second offense DUI, whether their first DUI was in DC or in another jurisdiction, the judge is required under the law to give that person at least ten days in the DC jail. That is ten straight days; it cannot be served on the weekends or served as house arrest. The judge doesn’t have the discretion to reduce the mandatory minimum regardless of what the person’s occupation is or what impact it would have on their life.

Meeting Medical Needs

If a person who has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence had any urgent medical needs, those needs can be met in one of two ways. The first possible way is that any general medical needs can be addressed directly at the police station. That can include any over the counter medications or medications that may be readily available without a prescription to the Metropolitan Police Department. If a person has an urgent medical issue that cannot be addressed by Metropolitan Police Department, then the person who has been arrested may be taken by the police to the nearest hospital.

In the event that the person is taken to a hospital, then that person will most likely not be given a citation to appear in court at a later date. Rather, they would be taken to the hospital and then held at the hospital until they can be presented before a judge for their release at the next available date, which is typically the following day.

What is Implied Consent?

In DC, a person who has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence can be subjected to a breath, blood, or urine test to determine his or her level of impairment. Under DC law, anyone driving or in operation of a motor vehicle on a DC road is deemed to have given implied consent to provide a sample of breath, blood or urine upon request by law enforcement. The arresting officer is ultimately the one who gets to decide which test a person will be asked to submit to, which may be based on feasibility and/or the types of substances the officer suspects the driver may be under the influence of at that time.

For years, many people, including drivers and defense lawyers alike, have considered implied consent to be unfair. A person cannot be compelled to incriminate themselves by being forced to make a statement against their own interest or forced to provide evidence to police officers without a warrant. This has been the case for many decades. However, the courts have consistently ruled that implied consent rules are constitutional, explaining that the intrusion on a person’s privacy is far outweighed by the protection to the public.

Courts have also found that it would be an undue burden on the police to get a warrant in order to get a breath sample because of the nature of breath or urine alcohol testing. The longer it takes to collect a breath sample, the lower a person’s blood alcohol content would be. Thus, it becomes more difficult for the police to be able to collect an accurate sample reflecting the person’s condition at the time that they were driving. As a result of these factors, courts have found that implied consent rules are constitutional and police are permitted to take a sample of a person’s breath or urine without a warrant under implied consent rules.

Test Refusal

If a person refuses to submit a sample for testing after he or she has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, DC law dictates that that person would have his or her license revoked for one year. If the driver has a DC license, then the person would have his or her license taken away for that one-year period of time and could not drive in DC or in any other place during the revocation period.

If a person has a non-DC license, then the DC DMV’s license revocation period would only apply to the person’s driving privileges in Washington, DC. For example, if a person had a Virginia driver’s license when they were arrested, then the one-year revocation they would face for refusing to give a breath, blood or urine test would only revoke their ability to drive in DC. The DC DMV, however, could notify Virginia of the DC license revocation, and Virginia would be able to take action at their own discretion against the person with the Virginia Driver’s license based on their own laws and regulations.

The reason why a person is susceptible to a mandatory revocation for refusing to give a breath, blood, or urine test is because of implied consent. Typically, when a police officer wants to take private property or conduct a search of a person’s body, that police officer needs to get a warrant before being able to do so. An exception to this rule is if a person has consented to the search or to the seizure of their property without a warrant. When a person is driving in Washington, DC, DC law says that the act of driving in DC, whether a person has a DC license or a non-DC license, means that person has implicitly given their consent to provide breath, blood or urine upon request. Therefore, even if they do not have a warrant, the police can require a person to provide a breath or urine test. However, blood testing still does require a warrant because of the more intrusive nature of taking blood from a person, compared to taking a breath or urine sample.