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Drunk Driving/DUI laws in Washington D.C.

  DUI Laws & Info  -   POSTED: 2007/01/09 18:54


The legal drinking age in the District of Columbia is 21, and there are three very distinct drinking and driving laws (DUI, DWI and Under Aged) that are enforced by the Metropolitan Police Department:

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

DUI applies to a person having a blood alcohol concentration of .07 percent The city council in the District of Columbia voted to increase the blood alcohol level at which an individual is presumed guilty of drunk driving. DC has had essentially no limit in the past, meaning arrests could -- and have -- taken place with blood alcohol readings of 0.00. The council's legislation raises that to 0.05, much lower than the 0.08 prevalent in the rest of the country.

The council acted after a series of embarrassing articles in The Washington Post documented cases where individuals were jailed for drunk driving despite blood alcohol readings of 0.00 or 0.03 in breath tests. Officers citing a "zero tolerance" policy would arrest anyone who admitted to having just one drink before driving. These motorists would then be offered a clean record if they paid a $400 "counseling fee." Failure to pay would result in the city Department of Motor Vehicles suspending their driver's license, despite the lack of any criminal conviction. The arrest alone has affected the jobs of many residents who need a clean record to maintain security clearances. It took five months and $2000 in legal fees before Debra Bolton, 45, cleared her name after she was arrested for drunk driving with a blood alcohol level of just 0.03.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

DWI applies to a person having a statutorily prohibited blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. (The District of Columbia adopeted the .08 percent BAC standard for Driving While Intoxicated in April 1999.) The suspect can be convicted in court based solely on the breath, blood or urine results without any structured field sobriety test.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

DUI applies to a person having a blood alcohol concentration of .07 percent or lower. Under DC Code, a driver can be charged with a DUI offense if, in addition to a BAC reading, the officer has other signs of impairment from a structured field sobriety test and from observations of the suspect's driving behavior. Under Age Drinking

Persons under the age of 21 cannot purchase, consume, or possess any alcoholic beverages of any kind. If they are found to be operating a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol, they will be placed under arrest and charged with DWI–Driving While Intoxicated.

Sober Ride Program (seasonal) - provided by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program

For more information regarding DC's laws on drinking and driving, contact the Traffic Safety Unit at (202) 727-4313 or (202) 727-4315

Drunk Driving - Washington D.C.

The legal drinking age in the District of Columbia is 21, and there are three very distinct drinking and driving laws (DUI, DWI and Under Aged) that are enforced by the Metropolitan Police Department:

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

DUI applies to a person having a blood alcohol concentration of .07 percent The city council in the District of Columbia voted to increase the blood alcohol level at which an individual is presumed guilty of drunk driving. DC has had essentially no limit in the past, meaning arrests could -- and have -- taken place with blood alcohol readings of 0.00. The council's legislation raises that to 0.05, much lower than the 0.08 prevalent in the rest of the country.

The council acted after a series of embarrassing articles in The Washington Post documented cases where individuals were jailed for drunk driving despite blood alcohol readings of 0.00 or 0.03 in breath tests. Officers citing a "zero tolerance" policy would arrest anyone who admitted to having just one drink before driving. These motorists would then be offered a clean record if they paid a $400 "counseling fee." Failure to pay would result in the city Department of Motor Vehicles suspending their driver's license, despite the lack of any criminal conviction. The arrest alone has affected the jobs of many residents who need a clean record to maintain security clearances. It took five months and $2000 in legal fees before Debra Bolton, 45, cleared her name after she was arrested for drunk driving with a blood alcohol level of just 0.03.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

DWI applies to a person having a statutorily prohibited blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. (The District of Columbia adopeted the .08 percent BAC standard for Driving While Intoxicated in April 1999.) The suspect can be convicted in court based solely on the breath, blood or urine results without any structured field sobriety test.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

DUI applies to a person having a blood alcohol concentration of .07 percent or lower. Under DC Code, a driver can be charged with a DUI offense if, in addition to a BAC reading, the officer has other signs of impairment from a structured field sobriety test and from observations of the suspect's driving behavior. Under Age Drinking

Persons under the age of 21 cannot purchase, consume, or possess any alcoholic beverages of any kind. If they are found to be operating a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol, they will be placed under arrest and charged with DWI–Driving While Intoxicated.


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