Penalties and Aggravating Factors For Second DUI Charges in DC

Usually, the Attorney General’s Office in Washington, DC handles all DUI cases rather aggressively. Even first offense DUIs are treated fairly seriously. Prosecutors often seek convictions, and in some first offenses, depending on the circumstances, a person could be eligible for jail.

Second offense DUIs in DC are treated more seriously and are often vigorously prosecuted. Such penalties and aggravating factors associated with the charge are often severe as well. That means that prosecutors actively seek jail time for people arrested for second offense DUIs.

If you are facing your second DUI charge in Washington, DC, it is important that you consult with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. A knowledgeable attorney can mount a defense to help lessen or dismiss any potential penalties associated with your second DUI charge.

Potential Penalties

A person is eligible for treatment as a second offender in DC when they have a prior finding of guilt for driving under the influence in DC or any other state within the last 15 years. This includes prior cases where the finding of guilt was more than 15 years ago.

If someone was on probation, serving a jail sentence, or on any kind of court papers within 15 years of their arrest in the present DC case, they are eligible for enhanced penalties for second offense DUI charges under the law.

Mandatory Minimums

When a person qualifies as a second offender in a DC DUI charge; their maximum possible jail sentence increases from 180 days of jail up to a one-year maximum jail sentence. The minimum penalty they face increases from zero days in jail for a first offense up to a mandatory minimum of 10 days of jail. When a person is convicted of the second offense DUI, a judge does not have the discretion to give the person less than 10-days of jail.

The 10-days must be served consecutively and cannot be divided between weekends or converted to community service or house arrest. The judge is required under the law to give them at least 10-days of jail to up to one year of jail.


The fines also change compared to a first offense. In a first offense DUI, the fines range from no fine up to $1,000. With a second offense, the fines range from $2,500 up to $5,000. There is no mandatory fine.

A judge could impose a $2,500 fine as a penalty for a second offense DUI charge in DC, but not require a person to pay any portion of that. That is a suspended fine and the person only pays if they violate a condition of their probation. A person also faces a mandatory Victims Compensation Program fund assessment between $50 and $250.

Severity of the Charge

Because a person is eligible for mandatory jail time when they are convicted of a second offense DUI, the courts do not have the discretion to give a person less than that period of jail time. That limits what the court can do. There are situations in which a judge does not want to impose jail time because the person works or has a family.

Unfortunately, under DC DUI laws, the judge must give the person 10 days in jail as a penalty of their second offense DUI in DC. The courts do not have the option of giving less than that mandatory penalty because it is preset into DC laws when the person is convicted of the second offense.

Some judges may go higher than the mandatory minimum depending on the circumstances of the case. This depends on whether a person went to trial and was convicted as opposed to entering a guilty plea. It depends whether a person was arrested for the DUI and was also in a traffic accident. A judge could consider how recent the prior DUI was and treat the person more harshly if the previous DUI was from just a year or two ago as opposed to 10 or 12 years ago.

A judge considers factors such as a person’s job, family situation, or any treatment or alcohol education the person had when deciding whether to post a sentence higher than the mandatory minimum, and in determining the penalties or aggravating factors in a DC DUI case.