Getting a drunk driving offense in Washington, D.C. can be scary. Most people charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug (DUI) typically want to know if their drunk driving charge carries a mandatory jail sentence.
A mandatory sentence means that if you are convicted of a certain crime, the judge under the law has to give you a minimum required jail sentence. The good news is that mandatory minimum jail time is not required for all DUI charges. In most situations it will apply if you have repeat DUI charges. It can also apply if you have a high level of alcohol in your system, or if you test positive for very serious drugs.
To find out if the level of alcohol in your system requires mandatory jail time for a DUI, a police officer has to first collect a sample specimen from you. This specimen can be a blood sample, a breath sample, or a urine sample. Once they get the sample, it is used to generate a number that tells you the amount of alcohol in your body. The legal limit in Washington, D.C. is an alcohol concentration of 0.08 for a blood or breath sample, and 0.10 for a urine sample.
Mandatory Jail Time For a First DUI Charge
For a first DUI charge in D.C., there is no minimum jail time for just reaching the legal limit. It applies if you have high levels of alcohol or certain drugs in your system. For a first DUI charge in Washington, D.C. you could be facing a mandatory sentence of 10 days in jail if you have an alcohol concentration of 0.20 from a blood or breath sample, or 0.25 from a urine sample.
The mandatory sentence can get higher if there are higher levels of alcohol in your body. In addition, if you test positive for certain serious drugs such a schedule I controlled substance, you may be facing a mandatory jail sentence of 20 days.
Mandatory Jail Time For a Second DUI Charge
For a second DUI charge in D.C., the mandatory sentence is 10 days in jail. This sentence applies even if there is no blood, breath or urine sample. If there is a sample, the minimum sentence can increase if there are high levels of alcohol in your body. Also, if you test positive for a schedule I controlled substance you could be looking at additional jail time. This added jail time would be in addition to the minimum jail sentence.
Mandatory Jail Time For a Third DUI Charge
For a third DUI charge in D.C. the minimum sentence is 15 days in jail. Again, this sentence applies regardless of the levels of alcohol in your system. If there are high levels of alcohol in your body, the minimum sentence can increase. If you also test positive for a schedule I controlled substance you can face additional jail time.
Alternatives to Jail Sentences
If you are facing a minimum jail sentence for a DUI charge, there are still ways around it. A good lawyer may be able to get you a diversion agreement in court. A diversion agreement has some very strict requirements, but if you complete it, you could stay out of jail.
In addition, there is always the option to fight the charges in court. If there is an issue with how the police collected your specimen, it could weaken the prosecutor's case. If the police violated your rights, this could also hurt the prosecutor's case.
Finally, there are also other driving-related charges that do not require mandatory jail time. If you are able to get a charge that is lower than a DUI, you may no longer be facing the minimum jail sentence required for some DUIs.