Blood Alcohol Content in DC DUI Cases

Every state and sometimes individual cities can have completely different laws when it comes to driving under the influence. Nationally, however, there is a baseline blood-alcohol level at which it is illegal to be driving. That national baseline BAC measurement is 0.08.

That does not mean the individual state cannot potentially go lower than the 0.08 level.  But every state–including the District of Columbia–is required to have a 0.08 legal limit, at which point a person cannot be operating a motor vehicle. This applies to Washington, D.C., but a separate set of laws make it illegal for someone to operate a motor vehicle even if their blood alcohol content is below the 0.08 BAC measurement in D.C.

Per Se Requirements

In Washington D.C., the law says that a person cannot be in operational control of the vehicle if they are impaired to any appreciable degree by alcohol. The 0.08 level means that a person is per se impaired by alcohol if they have a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.

Per se means that 0.08 blood alcohol content is sufficient evidence to show and to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is impaired to an appreciable degree, even if they pass a field sobriety test and appear to be fully sober.

However, if a person’s blood alcohol content was below 0.08, and as low as 0.05, then that person can still be presumed to be under the influence along with other evidence of impairment. A person with a blood level content of 0.07 or 0.06, for example, can still be found guilty of driving under the influence; however, the prosecutors would need to provide evidence of impairment aside from the blood alcohol content.

That means that at 0.06 or 0.05, a person can be considered under the influence, but their BAC measurement alone is not sufficient to be able to provide that proof. That is a law that does not exist in every jurisdiction. Even with a BAC measurement below 0.08, someone in D.C. could still be considered legally impaired.

Federal Implications

Even though D.C. is home to the federal government, D.C. has its own laws that are enforced by local police and prosecuted and charged in the local District of Columbia court. Not every crime committed in Washington, D.C. is a federal crime.

Even if a person is pulled over on allegations of driving under the influence by the United States Park Police, the FBI, the US Secret Service, or even the United States Capitol Police, that person would most likely still be charged with driving under the influence in the local District of Columbia courts despite being arrested by a national police force.

One thing that makes D.C. different from most other cities and states is the sheer number of law enforcement agencies that exist in D.C. and the varying types of jurisdictions that those police agencies have.

The National Parks in Washington, D.C., such as Rock Creek Park and the National Mall, have laws enforced by the United States Park Police, but Park Police arrests can still be charged in local courts. In the areas around embassies or around the White House, the Secret Service can conduct DUI investigations.

In the area around the Capitol Building or Capitol office buildings, the United States Capitol Police have jurisdiction. In areas around metro stations, Metro Transit Police have jurisdiction. Inside federal buildings, the Federal Protection Bureau has jurisdiction. Generally, all around the city, the Metropolitan Police Department has jurisdiction.

A large number of police agencies means that the number of police officers and law enforcement officers is very high in relation to the population, which may affect the likelihood of having a BAC measurement taken in D.C. An experienced, local DUI attorney can help you with issues regarding BAC measurements in D.C.