DC DUI License Suspension

Washington, DC has an unusual system in which the criminal penalties for driving under the influence case are separate from the possible driver’s license penalties of the DC DMV. The criminal judges in DC only have control over whether a person is convicted of a DUI at trial and any sentencing conditions including jail time, probation, fines, or a combination of those. However, DC judges have no control over the suspension or revocation of a person’s driver’s license; that is handled as a separate matter by the DC DMV.

When someone is arrested for driving under the influence, they receive two forms. The first form tells them when they must appear before the criminal judge for an arraignment on their criminal case. The other form is the official notice of proposed revocation. This is a notice from the DC DMV saying that a person is eligible for mandatory license revocation because they were arrested for a DUI. If your license has been suspended for a first time DUI in DC, an experienced DUI lawyer can discuss your next steps in order to plan the appropriate defense for you and your future.

Revocation of the License

For a first offense DUI, the mandatory license revocation is six months in DC. The District does not have restricted licenses or limited licenses because the DC DMV rules are strictly written. There is no leeway in the six month period for license suspension and there are no exceptions. A first time DUI in DC has a flat six months revocation period.

When someone has a DC driver’s license, the DC DMV can physically take their license and revoke their driving privileges for the full six months after a first-time DUI arrest. A person who does not have a DC driver’s license is only eligible to have their DC driving privileges revoked for six months. The DC DMV cannot revoke a person’s full driver’s license when they do not have a DC driver’s license.

However, a revocation of a non-DC driver’s license privileges after a DUI charge in the District can be transferred to a person’s home state. Their home state could take action against their driver’s license based on that state’s rules. When an individual receives a notice of license revocation from the DC DMV; the form tells them they have a specific window of time in which to schedule a hearing with the DC DMV to challenge the proposed revocation.

Requesting a Hearing

If a person has a DC license, they have a 10-day period to request a hearing. When someone has a non-DC license, they have 15 days. In either case, the person must go to the DC DMV adjudication department to schedule the DMV hearing in person. At the hearing, the DC DMV could hear testimony separately from the DC criminal case. The DC DMV makes a determination as to whether that person’s driving driver’s license or driving privileges in DC are revoked.

If the DMV does not hear sufficient evidence to revoke someone’s driver’s license or driving privileges in DC, the DMV can wait for the outcome of the criminal case. If the person is convicted, they face the same mandatory loss of driving privileges. If a person is not convicted, the DC DMV might take no action against their driving privileges.

A person who is arrested for a first time DUI in DC has 10 or 15 days to schedule a hearing to challenge the proposed revocation of their license. When a person schedules the hearing, their driving privileges are placed on a pending suspension or pending revocation status.

Challenging License Suspension

Driving privileges are not affected during the 10 or 15 day period after the DUI. If the DC DMV hears enough evidence at the hearing to conclude that the person was driving under the influence, the DMV takes action against their driver’s license and imposes the mandatory six-month license revocation period. If a person is alleged to have refused to provide a sample of breath, blood, or urine after being arrested, they are eligible for a mandatory one-year DUI license suspension.

At the hearing, the person can challenge the evidence against them and argue to have the DMV not impose that revocation. The DMV’s only consideration for revocation of the DUI license suspension is the evidence in the person’s case. A person cannot have a restricted permit and cannot argue that their license should not be revoked because it is a burden. Anyone wanting to challenge the suspension of their license after a DC DUI charge should contact a DUI lawyer who can assist in their case.