Washington DC First Offense DUI Laws

how to fight a first offense dui charge in dc
DUI laws and penalties, fines, license suspension, sr22 filing

A person can be arrested and charged with a first offense drunk driving charge in Washington DC in one of three ways. The first is a DWI charge, or driving while impaired. This is the most serious of drunk driving charges in DC meaning that the accused had a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater.

The second scenario is a DUI charge, or driving under the influence. To be charged with DUI a person must have a BAC level of at least .05% but less than .08%. The third scenario is a OWI charge, or operating while impaired. The OWI charge is basically the same as a zero tolerance law meaning that alcohol has impaired the driver's ability in some way.

A first time offender in DC will be facing two separate charges. The first charge is the criminal charge of either DWI, DUI, or OWI. The criminal case will be handled through the DC criminal court system. The second charge will be the revocation of your driving privileges which will be handled by the DC DMV.

DC Administrative Drivers License Hearing

Upon being arrested for a first time drunk driving offense in DC the arresting officer will confiscate your driver's license and issue you what is called a "Notice of Suspension". This notice will serve as your temporary driver's license for the next 5 days, which is when the suspension goes into effect.

Important: A resident of DC only has 5 calendar days in which to schedule an administrative hearing with the DC DMV permit hearing office following a drunk driving arrest if you hope to avoid the potential revocation of your driving privileges. If you are not a DC resident you have 10 calendar days in which to schedule an administrative hearing.

DC administrative license hearings are complex and difficult to win without the help of a skilled DC DUI lawyer on your side. We strongly urge you to contact one of our DUI lawyers now to schedule your hearing and represent you at the hearing.

The administrative hearing is referred to as a "show cause hearing". The DMV hearing examiner will begin the hearing by taking testimony from the arresting officer and reviewing the evidence presented by the officer against you. The hearing examiner will then take testimony from you and your attorney and review any evidence you present in your favor.

At the conclusion of the hearing the hearing examiner will make the final decision as to whether or not action will be taken by the DMV against your driving privilege. If the hearing examiner rules in your favor, your license will be returned to you. If the hearing examiner rules against you, your license revocation period will begin.

First time offenders may request a Limited Occupational License from the DMV following the revocation of their driver's license. A limited occupational license will allow you to drive to and from work during certain hours outlined by the DMV.

DC DUI First Offense Penalties


The fine amount for a first offense DWI or DUI conviction are up to $300 plus applicable court costs. The fine amount for a first offense OWI conviction will be between $200 and $300 plus court costs.

Jail Time

The jail time for a first offense DWI or DUI conviction can be up to a maximum of 90 days in jail. If your blood alcohol level was at least .20% to .25% there is a minimum jail sentence of 5 days. If your blood alcohol level exceeds .25% there is a minimum jail sentence of 10 days. The jail sentence for a first offense OWI conviction can be up to 30 days in jail.

Drivers License Revocation

A person's drivers license will be revoked for a minimum of 6 months following a first offense DWI or DUI charge in DC.

Ignition Interlock

First time offenders may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle prior to the DMV granting them a limited occupational license or before reinstating their license following their revocation period.

Chemical Test Refusal

First time offenders who refuse to submit to a chemical test will have their driver's license revoke for 1-year.

DC SR22 Insurance Information & Quotes

Before the DC DMV will reinstate your driver's license following your revocation period or before issuing you a limited occupational license you will be required to provide the DMV with proof of financial responsibility in the form of an SR-22 filing. Your DC SR22 insurance provider will file the SR-22 form with the DMV on your behalf. It is important to note that you will be required to maintain your SR-22 filing with the DMV for a period of 3-years following a DWI or DUI charge.

Additional DC DUI Resources

  • DC DUI Laws - A complete overview of DC DUI laws including fines, jail time and penalties for each offense.

  • DC SR22 Insurance -  Learn everything you need to know about DC SR22 filing requirements with the DMV and find out how you can save hundreds of dollars each year on your DC SR22 insurance.

  • DC DUI Lawyers -   Contact one of our DC DUI lawyers today.