Being arrested for DUI in Washington, D.C. is a miserable experience. It usually starts with a night in jail, followed by a trip to the impound lot to retrieve your car. Next comes your first trip to court, (maybe ever, for some) during which you are confused and perhaps a little frightened. Depending on your individual facts and circumstances, you may be subject to certain release conditions, including drug testing, substance abuse counseling, and/or weekly reporting to pretrial services. Now it’s time to find a D.C. DUI lawyer, and choosing the right one can be a daunting process.

Once you have a D.C. DUI attorney, the first thing you will want to know is whether you are going to jail. That’s understandable, since most people arrested for DUI in D.C. have never spent a day in jail, and the very prospect may be inconceivable.  Whether jail time is a possibility in your case depends on many different factors. Those include whether you have been convicted of DUI in the past, whether there was an accident, whether anyone was injured, whether you took a breath or urine test, and most importantly, whether the government can prove that you were driving under the influence. But while most defendants worry most about jail, there are other collateral consequences of a DUI conviction that are more likely and very burdensome.

What defendants also worry about is whether a Washington, D.C. DUI conviction will cause their driver’s license to be suspended. The short answer is yes, but it’s more complicated than that. When you are arrested for a DUI in Washington, D.C., the arresting officer usually submits notice to the DMV informing them of your arrest. If you are licensed to drive in D.C., you have 10 days to request a hearing at the DMV. If you do not request a hearing within the 10 days, your license will automatically be suspended.  If that happens, it will be difficult to undo it, even if you are found not guilty of DUI. The length of the suspension depends on whether you also refused to take a breath test or submit a urine sample.  The normal suspension in D.C. for a first DUI offense is 6 months. But if it is found that you refused to submit to a chemical test, the suspension will be for one year.

If you are licensed in a state other than Washington, D.C., you have 15 days to request a hearing at the D.C. DMV. If you fail to do so, or if you are eventually convicted of DUI, the D.C. DMV can only suspend your privilege to drive in the District, not your driver’s license. However, most states will also suspend your license once your conviction is reported to them by D.C. Although occasionally drivers slip through the cracks, you can generally count on your license eventually being suspended if you are convicted of a Washington, D.C. DUI.

Perhaps the most pernicious hidden cost of a Washington D.C. DUI conviction is your time. Those convicted of a D.C. will, in almost every case, be placed on supervised probation. Conditions of probation will include attending a Victim Impact Panel, completing an on-line Traffic Safety Program, and a series of Traffic Alcohol Program classes. In addition, your probation officer may determine that you need additional alcohol and/or drug counseling. All of this takes time away from your job, your family, or whatever else you’d rather be doing.

Suffering a Washington, D.C. DUI conviction has significant consequences beyond potential jail time. Because the stakes are so high, your DUI attorney should make sure you understand the implications of taking a plea deal or going to trial.

For a comprehensive explanation of your case, contact Gretchen Taylor Pousson at Scrofano Law PC for a consultation.