License After a Third Offense DUI in DC

Under DC laws, there are no restricted licenses for any DUIs. If the DMV finds that a person has committed a DUI based on their legal standards, the revocations imposed are mandatory and have zero exceptions. A person would not be able to apply for a restricted license or any kind of limited license, even a license to drive to and from work or school. There is no kind of restricted license allowed under DC law for DUI cases.

An experienced lawyer can help you understand the consequences to your license after a third offense DUI in DC, as well as help you build a defense. According to Washington DC legislation, the local courts and judges on the criminal side have no control over a person’s driver’s license.

In terms of penalties, judges in DC criminal court can only impose jail time, fines, and probation. Judges in DC are not allowed to impose driver’s license suspensions, revocations, or other kinds of restrictions on a person’s driver’s license per se. A judge may be able to impose court-ordered restrictions on a person’s ability to drive, but that would not have an impact on a person’s driving record.

Relevant Agency

The only agency that can impose suspension or revocation of a person’s driver’s license as a result of a DUI is the Washington DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

On a first offense DUI, a person is entitled to a hearing with the DC DMV to determine if the person will have his or her license revoked for six months. This process has a different procedure from the procedure connected to the criminal case since a person would be entitled to a separate hearing. In other words, the DMV would be required to hear separate testimony from law enforcement officers and would apply different standards of proof compared to judges in the criminal case.

The consequences to a license after a third offense DUI in DC, however, are different. On a third offense, a person would not be facing just the six months’ license revocation period that a first offender would be facing. There is a mandatory two-year license revocation period if the DMV finds by clear and convincing evidence that they committed the DUI and had two previous DUIs. Under DC rules, there are no restricted license options and no limited licenses. The DMV imposes blanket restrictions that are present under local laws and they do not have any exceptions or limitations to the impositions of those mandatory sentences.

What to Expect at the Hearing

The DMV hearings involve people who have been driving under the influence. In that sense, third offenders are similar to those first offenders. The DMV still needs to find that a person was operating a vehicle and clear and convincing evidence that they were appreciably impaired by alcohol at the time.

Those standards are similar to the standards present at the criminal courts. The major exception though is that the burden of proof is lower at the DMV than it is at the criminal court.

Burden of Proof

At the criminal court, a judge trial or a jury trial would need to find a person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a high standard of proof, meaning a jury or a judge needs to have a high degree of confidence that a person was under the influence. If a judge or jury had a reason to doubt the guilt of a defendant, they could be required to acquit that person. At the DMV, however, the standard is lower.

The standard of what is called clear and convincing evidence means that even if the DMV is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was under the influence, they could still suspend or revoke the person’s driving privileges as long as they receive clear and convincing evidence.

Case of Acquittal

If the DC DMV holds the hearing and finds by clear and convincing evidence that a person has committed a DUI, the DC DMV would move forward on the license revocation, even if a person has not yet been convicted at criminal court. If the DMV holds that hearing and revokes a person’s license, and subsequently, that person goes to trial in their DUI case at criminal court and is acquitted, that acquittal would not enable a person to go back to the DMV and apply to have their license returned.

This is because the standard to find someone guilty at the D.C. criminal court is higher than the standard to revoke someone’s license at the DC DMV. Even if a prosecutor in the criminal court did not meet the standard to convict, the police at the DMV might still be able to meet the clear and convincing standard to have the DMV revoke that person’s driving privileges, because the two are considered separate processes. An acquittal at the criminal court would not necessarily entitle a person to apply to have their revocation lifted at the DC DMV.

How An Attorney Can Help

Living without a license can cause significant changes in how someone goes about their life. If you are facing the possibility of losing your license after a third offense DUI in DC, contact an attorney as soon as possible to fight the charges so as to minimize the likelihood of losing your ability to drive.

There is no mathematical definition for clear and convincing evidence, but the standard for the DMV is lower than it is at the criminal court. The challenges that are available to criminal defense lawyers are similar to the challenges that are available in court. They would be challenging field sobriety tests, the ability of officers to be able to prove breath testing, and the procedures that were conducted so that the reliability of any information provided by police officers at a D.C. DMV hearing do not rise to the level of clear and convincing evidence.