Washington, DC DUI, DWI, and OWI Blog

Not too long ago, most college kids could find another student who made fake IDs.  Other students would get an ID made and use that ID to go to bars and, if they were brave enough, liquor stores.  If the ID was good, it would work most of the time, and if it didn’t, one of two things would happen – the bouncer would take your ID and tell you to go home, or the bouncer will give you back the ID and tell you to go home.  Very rarely were the police involved.
Now, let’s look at how things work today.  A student at Georgetown, George Washington, or American decides he or she wants a fake ID and goes online to get a fake ID from one of the many companies, mostly based in China, that offer this service.  The ID arrives, and they go out to a bar to use it.  This could one of the bars on 18th Street NW, one of the bars on M Street, or any number of establishments college kids in DC like to frequent.

Drunk driving cases in which someone other than the alleged drunk driver is injured are among the most serious types of DUI matters in the District of Columbia.  The reason for this is obvious, since the reason it is illegal to drive drunk is because there is a serious risk someone will be hurt or killed.  When that actually happens, the prosecutors take the case very seriously.

According to a recent news feature from NBC Washington, a car driven by an allegedly drunk driver jumped a curb on New Year’s Eve and crashed into seven pedestrians standing on the sidewalk. Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) representatives say the 25-year-old defendant was driving while intoxicated, veered off the road and hit a small tree in front of the Barcode night club.  When the driver hit the tree, it allegedly caused him to run up on to the curb and collide with the pedestrians.

Witnesses called 911, and police and Fire and EMS were dispatched to the scene of this alleged drunk driving accident in Washington, DC.  The first responders provided immediate medical attention to the victims and then transported them to a local level one trauma center.  One of the victims was listed in critical condition, and the others were listed as being in serious condition.  As for the suspected drunk driver, he is alleged to have fled the scene and was arrested later that morning.  He was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and leaving after colliding personal injury (LAC-PD).  While the official term is LAC-PD, most people in Washington, DC, refer to the charge as “hit-and-run.” 

Getting arrested for a DUI in Washington, DC is a traumatic experience. You are driving after have a couple of drinks, but feel you are fine to drive.  All of sudden, you get pulled over and the officer starts asking how much you have had drink. 
In response to this question, you tell him that you had two beers early in the night, but you are not intoxicated.  At this point, 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.

The first test the officer gives you is known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. The officer asks you to follow his pen or flashlight with your eyes.  It seems like you did fine on this test, so the officer requests that you do the walk and turn test.  This is the DC sobriety test where you take nine steps forward, do a turn, and walk back nine steps.

After completing the walk and turn test, the police officer asks you to do a third test called the one-legged-stand.  Once you have completed all three tests, the officer says you have failed and are under arrest for drunk driving.
As a Washington, DC DUI attorney, I constantly speak with people who say they did fine on the sobriety tests, yet the officer still said they failed. The truth is, while these tests are hard to do even while sober, many officers do not know how to properly administer the tests and just fail everyone who takes them.

After being arrested, you are taken to the police station where you are booked and fingerprinted, and then asked to submit to a chemical test. Whether or not you take the test, you are issued a citation and sent home with a court date and a pink piece of paper called a Notice of Proposed Revocation or Suspension.

What should you do next?  The first thing you should do is contact an attorney who regularly handles these cases.  An attorney who frequently handles Washington, DC DUI cases will be able to tell you that if this your first offence, there is virtually no chance that you will go jail.

These cases are prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.  That office makes the same plea offer in virtually every case.  They will allow you to plead to guilty in exchange for probation that includes the payment of fines and taking of several traffic and alcohol classes.

While every situation is different, and you should speak with your attorney about the facts of your particular case, you should think carefully if you are being told in a consult that you will likely face jail time, or that firm will work to get you a good plea.
The truth is, you should consider hiring an attorney who is prepared to actually fight the charges and take the case to trial.  Pleading guilty, even to a first offense, will result in a conviction.