DC OWI Lawyer

Operating while impaired (OWI) means that operating while appreciably impaired by alcohol, drugs, or some sort of substance. The definition of operating while impaired is being impaired to an appreciable degree. It is the same standard that is required to be reached than if someone is to be charged with DUI or driving under the influence, but it is essentially treated the same as a DUI.

Prosecutors in DC aggressively pursue OWI charges whether in conjunction with DUI charges or individually. A person in this situation may want to contact a DC OWI lawyer who may be able to negotiate a DUI dismissal in exchange for an OWI charge due to the fact that there are certain advantages to OWI over DUI in terms of potential penalties. Thus, it is often a good idea to consult with a DUI lawyer in DC to discuss the facts of your case.

OWI Charges

OWI stands for operating while impaired and carries less severe penalties than a typical DUI charge. The maximum jail time that one can legally face for driving under the influence (DUI) is 180 days while the maximum penalty a person can face for an OWI charge is only 90 days in jail.

The penalty for the first time operating while impaired offense is a maximum of ninety days in jail and a $300 fine. There’s a mandatory contribution of $100 to the Victims of Violent Crimes that must be paid.

Even though the maximum penalties are different, OWI does not actually have a different legal standard of proof compared to DUI. Both require operation or physical control of a vehicle and both require impairment to an appreciable degree. Thus, even though OWI is considered a lesser offense, there is no difference in what a prosecutor would need to prove for an OWI compared to a DUI.

Burden of Proof

OWI is not an offense that has a separate burden of proof or separate standard of proof from DUI. Operating while impaired simply exists as a lower legal penalty, not a lower standard of evidence. This means that the blood alcohol content level and the behavior a prosecutor needs to prove for an OWI charge does not differ for a DUI charge.

Out of State Drivers

When a person is an out-of-state driver and is charged with operating while impaired or OWI in DC, some states do not recognize operating while impaired as a traffic alcohol charge. That can be a benefit to people who do not live in DC. While a person might not resolve the case without a trial by pleading guilty to a DUI, it might be advantageous to plead guilty to the operating while impaired charge because it may not have the same effect as the DUI on their license.

Benefits of a Lawyer

People are very rarely only charged with OWI. More frequently, people are charged with OWI as a companion lesser offense to a DUI charge. In most circumstances, a person will be charged with an OWI when they also have a DUI. For this reason, it is just as important to have a DC OWI lawyer help you if you are facing both an OWI and DUI charge at the same time. Additionally, the ability to use an OWI to a client’s advantage is one way that DC DUI laws differ from many other places. A DC OWI defense attorney can sometimes put a defendant in a legally favorable position by trying to work out a dismissal of a DUI charge in exchange for an OWI charge.

It is worth it for someone to retain a lawyer to represent them on any traffic alcohol charge because there is potential jail time involved. Also, the potential collateral consequences of convictions are very serious with respect to potential suspension of a driver’s license. If someone has a commercial driver’s license, it could affect their livelihood. With any potential employment, any criminal conviction can adversely affect employment opportunities. Due to the fact that OWI is typically charged in very specific instances, it is important to consult with a DC OWI lawyer as soon as possible after a DUI charge to discuss your case.