Washington, DC DUI, DWI, and OWI Blog

Even though Marijuana is currently legal in Washington, DC, there can still be consequences for using marijuana and then operating a motor vehicle. Imagine this scenario, you’re driving in DC, all of sudden, you see red and blue lights and you are getting pulled over.  The police officer approaches your car, asks you to roll your window down and claims that he detects an odor of marijuana.  In response to the officer’s question about the marijuana smell, you tell him that you have marijuana but question why it matters.  Now, the officer calls another officer who is trained in the administration of standardized field sobriety tests.  This second officer arrives on the scene and asks you to take a series of tests to see if you are incapacitated in any way or if you cannot exercise clear judgement. In this scenario, let us also imagine that the last time you smoked marijuana was a few days prior.  Even though you hadn’t lit up that day, the THC may still be stored in your fat cells. 

According to a recent news feature from NBC News, a man in Washington, DC has been arrested for drunk driving after he allegedly drove his car through a locked metal gate on White Ferry and ended up in the Potomac River.

Authorities say the accident occurred around 1:30 in the morning.  They were called after a late-night caretaker at the Crossing said he heard screams coming from the end of the pier along the banks of the Potomac River.  When the caretaker made his way down to the waterfront, he saw that the man had managed to get out of his car, but he was still in the water.  This caretaker immediately went into the water to help the man out and called 911.

The District of Columbia, like all 50 states and territories in the United States, set the legal drinking age of 21.  Before the age of 21, you can drive, vote, buy a lottery ticket, and even join the military but you cannot legally drink alcohol.  However, that does not stop college students and other minors from trying.  In the District of Columbia, there are two primary crimes associated with underage drinking:

(1) misrepresentation of age (Possession of a fake ID) and (2) contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  

In the unfortunate event that underage drinking gets you into legal trouble, here’s what you need to know:

1.    What are my chances of being convicted?

To be convicted for Misrepresentation of Age in the District, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are under 21 and did or attempted to misrepresent yourself with fraudulent identification and in doing so, you attempted to or did purchase, possess or drink alcohol, or you attempted to gain access to an establishment that had an on-premises retailer’s license, an arena C/X license or a temporary license.

To be convicted for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor (relating to alcohol or drugs) in Washington, D.C., the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you permitted a minor to possess or consume alcohol or a controlled substance.  The government must also prove that you were over 18 and at least 4 years older than the minor.  Many times these arrests involve older friends, parents and at times even teachers.  Any arrest is serious and can be highly embarrassing as they tend to receive local media attention as seen in this recent Washington Post article.  

These are relatively easy elements for the government to prove considering most people are caught in the act.  Therefore, the outcome of your case is largely dependent on how many times you have been in trouble for the same crime.