Impact of BAC on DC DUI Penalties

A DUI defendant might face a large variety of penalties due to BAC, as well as a┬ávariance in severity. Generally, the higher the person’s BAC, the harsher the penalties can be. A person could face mandatory jail time because of their blood alcohol content.

For example, on a first-offense DUI case, the maximum possible penalty that a person could face if convicted is 180 days of jail. On most DUI cases, a person would not be facing any mandatory minimum jail time, meaning a judge has the discretion to give them no jail time at all. However, if a person’s blood alcohol content is at 0.20 or higher, the judge cannot go lower than a 10-day jail time sentence and can go to up to 180 days. As the BAC rises above 0.20, the┬ámandatory level of jail time could rise to the point of 15 or 20 days of mandatory jail time that the judge could not suspend, even on a first-offense DUI.

BAC Levels At Trial

When the police are investigating a person suspected of driving under the influence, getting that person’s blood alcohol content is the easiest way to secure a conviction at trial. Because D.C. has a per se level of impairment at 0.08, if a person produces a sample at a 0.08 or higher, that number alone is enough to secure a conviction.

Even if the person showed no other signs of impairment, the blood alcohol content is the easiest and most reliable way for police to secure convictions. That being said, a breath sample does not mean that a DUI case is unable to be challenged.

Challenging Test Results

DUI defense lawyers can still look at the methods by which the police obtained a breath sample, the calibration of the breath testing machine, and whether that machine was properly tested for accuracy to produce a reliable result. The police are required to follow a number of procedures prior to taking a sample of a person’s breath and mistakes in that methodology can result in a person producing an unreliable breath test. It is important for a DUI defense lawyer to be aware of those methods and procedures so they can challenge inconsistencies in the evidence that the police and prosecutors may try to use.

Test Refusal

If a person refuses to submit a breath sample to the police, they could face separate penalties for the refusal. That could include the mandatory revocation of driving privileges for a full year as opposed to the standard six months for a first-offense DUI.

Also, if they refuse to submit to a breath test, a person may be ineligible for certain favorable negotiated plea options such as deferred sentencing.

There is no hard and fast rule as to whether it is a good idea for a person to submit a breath test or not submit a breath test. To make the most appropriate decision for your situation, it is important to be aware of the possible penalties for submitting a test and the possible penalties for refusing.