DC DUI and Out-of-State Licenses

When a person is arrested on allegations of driving under the influence in Washington, DC, their case consists of two situations. Part of their case involves the criminal charges heard before a criminal judge in the DC Superior Courthouse. The criminal charge results in prosecution by the Attorney General’s Office for the District of Columbia that could bring about criminal penalties such as possible jail time, fines, probation, and a criminal record.

If someone is facing DC DUI charges with an out-of-state license, they need to attain an experienced attorney right away. There could be severe consequences of these charges if they are convicted. Since the driver does not carry a DC license, it makes the case complicated. They may have to travel back to DC for their hearing, and they may face penalties back in their state.

Process of Pending DUI Charges

Unlike other states, the DC criminal judges have no control over the status of a person’s driver’s license. That means the criminal judge cannot suspend or revoke a person’s driver’s license or driving privileges as part of the criminal case. That is always handled as a separate matter through the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The rules at the DC DMV do not necessarily follow the rules for the criminal charges a person faces at DC Superior Court.

When a person is released from a police station pending their DC DUI charges; they are given a DC DMV official notice of proposed revocation by the police. Penalties for a person’s driver’s license are exclusively handled by the DC DMV. The notice informs them of possible penalties and the procedures for challenging the pending revocation of their driving privileges by the DC DMV. The rules are different when a person has a DC driver’s license versus a non-DC driver’s license.

A person with a non-DC driver’s license has a 15-day grace period in which to challenge the pending revocation of their driving privileges in Washington, DC. When a person does not have a DC driver’s license, the DC DMV can only impose penalties on their ability to drive inside the District of Columbia. The DC DMV cannot actually revoke a person’s driver’s license when that person does not have a DC license. Because the person is accused of driving under the influence in DC, that person can still face penalties to their DC driving privileges through the DC DMV.

License Penalties

In Washington, DC, prosecutors who charge driving under the influence offenses may also charge a reduced offense called operating while impaired. On the criminal side, operating while impaired, also referred to as an OWI, carries a lower maximum penalty compared to a DUI. Judges often treat an OWI less harshly than a DUI.

It is also important for a person to speak with their DC DUI defense attorney about possible penalties to their driver’s license and how those penalties differ when the person has a DC license, a Maryland license, a Virginia license, or a license from some other jurisdiction. It is always difficult for any defense attorney to know exactly what might happen to the person’s driver’s license because the penalties can vary greatly and the procedures for license suspensions are not consistently or uniformly enforced. There is a certain degree of unpredictability about them.

However, defense attorneys who practice defending DUI cases specifically in DC for a number of years are quite familiar with the ways in which different DMVs handle the suspension or revocation of people’s driver’s licenses based on DC DUIs. Having that kind of insight into possible DC DUI and out of state licenses penalties can be most helpful when determining the best course of action in a DUI case so individuals can make the most appropriate and informed decision.

Hiring a Lawyer

When an out-of-state licensee receives a driving privilege penalty from the DC DMV, that decision could transfer to the licensee’s home state which may impose penalties based on their own rules for dealing with out-of-state DUIs. The out-of-state licensee’s home state DMV decision can apply to the person’s driver’s license which could impact their ability to drive anywhere, not just their home state.

Out of state drivers should consider hiring a local attorney who can help them through a DC DUI case. If you are facing drunk driving charges and are not a DC resident, it is essential that you consult a local DC attorney. They understand the local jurisdiction and have extensive knowledge of DUI cases.