Is Being Punished by the Washington DC DMV and the Criminal Courts Double Jeopardy?

Like most states, Washington DC law permits the enforcement of administrative penalties in addition to court punishments, as the District of Columbia considers driving a privilege, not a right. The DC Department of Motor Vehicles issues driver’s licenses, imposes civil penalties, and may administer punishments.

What if I Am An Out-Of-State Driver?

Washington DC DUI convictions will be reported to your home state which will generally take action to suspend your license. Offenses for out-of-state drivers can also create other complications. Consequently, it’s imperative that you contact a local Washington DC DUI lawyer to walk you through the procedures and ensure that you don’t face complications with jail and your driving privileges.

What Happens In Court?

You’ll have to make several court appearances. In a criminal case you have the right to a trial with in which you are presumed innocent, but once convicted, it is up to the judge what punishment you will receive. The sentencing range is based on a number of factors. Sentencing criteria may include: the number of prior convictions, either in Washington DC or other states, any history of drug or alcohol abuse, employment or education history, prior military service, etc. There are also penalty enhancements due to aggravated circumstances.

In addition, a judge may require you to participate in alcohol or drug treatment programs as part of a probation program or have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.

What About Enhanced Punishments For Multiple Washington DC DUI Convictions?

Many circumstances may lead to sentence enhancements: prior DUI convictions, the presence of a minor 17 and younger in the car ($500 to $1,000 fine and up to 80 hours of community service), speeding, reckless driving, and causing an accident with injuries or property damage.

Any time you face multiple or ‘aggravated’ charges, or if death, injuries or sizeable property damage occurs, the consequences of the conviction may become extreme, including thousands of dollars in fines, years of imprisonment, massive restitution, and a loss of license and vehicles for years. Consequently, we strongly recommend retaining an experienced Washington DC DUI lawyer in order to secure the best possible outcome of a potentially severe situation.

What About My Insurance?

Your insurance rates will probably increase or your policy may be cancelled. Some estimates find that insurance premiums can escalate over 300% in 5 years. Rates for your family members, or even for your employer (if you use a company car), may increase as well.