DC Impaired Driving Offenses

If you been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in DC, you need to understand the charges that have been filed against you. When you become acquainted with the following drunk driving offenses, you will have a better understanding of your case and how you might defend yourself. An experienced DUI lawyer in DC can help you understand the following types of DUI offenses in DC:

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

A common charge is known as DWI, which is driving while intoxicated. This means that the person operating or in physical control of the car had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. Prosecutors no longer charge DWI as a separate offense; rather, DWI law means that having a BAC of .08 or higher is per se evidence of impairment. This means that no additional evidence beyond the BAC is necessary to prove impairment.

With DWI, it is important to remember that the blood, breath or urine test results are enough to convict a person without the presence of a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST).  If you are facing a DWI, your defense attorney may be able to help you mitigate the impact of the associated consequences or challenge the validity of the toxicology evidence in court.
In addition, DWI only applies to situations where there is blood alcohol content. If the blood alcohol content is .08 or higher, then a person can be charged with a DWI. If its medication, drugs, or any substance that is not alcohol, then the person cannot be charged with a DWI; they can only be charged with a DUI. They are essentially the same charge. DWI is one method by which someone can be found guilty of a DUI.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

The main impaired driving offense in DC, is DUI, which stands for Driving Under the Influence. Driving Under the Influence in DC means being in physical control of a vehicle while impaired by drugs, alcohol or any combination of the two, to an appreciable degree. A DUI is a misdemeanor criminal charge that carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail. When you get charged with a DUI, to prove that you are guilty, a prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in physical and operational control of a vehicle and you were appreciably impaired by drugs, alcohol, medication, or any combination of the three.

DUI charges are not exclusive to alcohol and illegal drugs. Driving under the influence (DUI) also includes drivers using prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or a combination of medication and alcohol.

The Difference Between A DUI And A DWI In DC

DUI is the catchall term for a person who is appreciably impaired by alcohol, medication, drugs, or a combination thereof while being in physical control of a vehicle. A DUI can be proven by several different facts including the manner in which a person is driving, the smell of alcohol on their breath, and how they performed in the field sobriety test. If a person gets arrested for a DUI and they provide a breath sample or a blood sample and the blood alcohol content in their breath or blood comes out to higher than .08 then that is a DWI. The blood alcohol content alone is enough for them to be found guilty of the DWI. A DWI charge and a DUI charge are essentially the same. There is no difference between them as far as the penalties, the amount of possible jail time, and the standard of proof. The only difference is that a DWI means that the person had a breath score higher than a .08 and for a DUI, they don’t need to have any breath score at all.

Operating a Vehicle While Impaired (OWI)

OWI, which stands for operating while impaired, is a separate criminal charge for DUI/DWI that carries a lower maximum penalty. It can sometimes make your driver’s license situation easier and can help convince the judge to give you a lesser penalty, but a conviction for OWI is still considered a conviction on your record and carries the same driver’s license penalties as a DUI. OWI is considered to be a lower level charge compared to a DUI. A prosecutor may be willing to dismiss your DUI in exchange for the OWI charge, but that only applies in certain circumstances so it is very important to have your lawyer talk to the prosecutor to see whether you qualify and whether it can actually benefit you.

The maximum penalty for a first offense OWI is ninety days in jail, as opposed to the maximum 180 days in jail for a DUI. The fines are also lower. There is a maximum fine for a DUI of $1,000, but fines for OWIs tend to be lower. Judges will sometimes agree to provide people with shorter periods of probation compared to a DUI, lower fines, fewer conditions and terms of probation that are easier to complete.

Empower Your Defense Attorney

Impaired driving charges can be frightening. You need to understand the law and how it applies to your situation. When a person understands how a DC impaired driving offense, this will help you ask the right questions and determine the pertinent legal representation when applying for legal aid. When you consult with a DUI defense attorney, you will receive knowledgeable aid from a person who may be able to get your charges dropped or your penalties decreased. An experienced lawyer knows the criminal process as well as the testing equipment and legal procedures.