Getting your license back after a DUI can be a little tricky. According to the (NHTSA) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 30 people die every single day in alcohol-related accidents. To be specific, that’s about one person every 48 seconds. When you’re driving under the influence of alcohol, you will most like fall under 1 of three following categories:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Generally, across most of the United States and the District of Columbia, a (BAC) blood alcohol content of 0.08 parts per milliliter (or higher) will get you charged with one, or multiple, of the above offenses. However, Washington, DC has a Zero Tolerance Policy when it comes to drunk driving. This means that in the District of Columbia you may be charged with DUI, OWI, or DWI if the policer officer that stops you believes that you have any alcohol in your system, even if your BAC is less than 0.08.
The average person only needs three drinks of alcohol in order to raise their BAC to 0.08 or higher. Many people can still be impaired with less than 3 drinks. In 2015 NHTSA reported that 1,809 alcohol related deaths were of people who were under the BAC level 0.08%. What this research proves is that 1-2 drinks can cost you your life.
If a police officer stops you and determines that you, as the operator of a vehicle, are over the legal limit, be prepared to be arrested for a drunk driving charge. If you refuse the breathalyzer exam (either on the side of the road or at the police station) then you will also be charged with chemical “Test Refusal” for specimens.
With a refusal charge on top of your DUI or OWI charges, your license may be automatically suspended for up to a year. You will be given the opportunity to preserve your license by setting up a License Revocation Hearing with the adjudication services of the DC DMV. This hearing must be scheduled by you within 10-15 days of your DUI/OWI and Refusal arrest. If this hearing is not scheduled within the permitted time, then your license will be automatically suspended. If a hearing is scheduled, then an experienced Washington DC DUI attorney may be able to preserve your license with the DMV as the DUI and refusal charges play out in court.
If the DMV does decide to suspend you license after hearing all the facts at this hearing (especially if you go without an experienced and expert Washington DC DUI attorney), the DMV may suspend your driver’s license from 6 months all the way up to 1 year. This all depends on how intoxicated you were, or how many DUI’s you had previously. In some cases, if there was a car accident involved it can be even longer.
Additionally, most courts, especially the DC Superior Court, requires defendants charged with any drunk driving charge to enroll in alcohol education courses, more commonly known as a Traffic Alcohol Program (TAP). Usually defendants are required to enroll in these courses if the case results in either diversion or conviction. Normally these courses are a part of the requirement for all diversion programs and they are also a part of sentencing even if the case results in a conviction. However, if the court assesses that you may have a serious/ongoing problem with drinking heavily, or an alcohol use disorder, then they will will most likely require you to enter a more aggressive inpatient or outpatient treatment program for your alcohol problem.
All of these difficult circumstances, detailed above, can be compounded when your license has been suspended or revoked as a result of these drunk driving charges. However, once a defendant has completed any alcohol program as a part of diversion or as a matter of sentencing, in most cases, they do have the ability to regain their license if they meet a series of requirements.
Steps to Get Your Drivers License Back
If you have been charged with a DUI for the first time, the court may give you a restricted or temporary license. A restricted license may be enforced until your next court date, or it may last until a disposition has been reached in the DUI case. Once a license has been restricted, suspended or revoked, and your DUI case has reached a conclusion/disposition, you may start the process of getting your license back. The first step in this process is to request a Reinstatement Hearing at the District of Columbia DMV (at the adjudication services center).
At this reinstatement hearing, the hearing examiner will question you about your driving record and driving habits. You can be represented by an attorney (and your really should be represented by an experienced and expert DC DUI attorney) and/or present evidence and witnesses. At the conclusion of your hearing, the hearing examiner will either approve or deny your application for reinstatement. If your application is denied, the hearing examiner will give specific reasons for the denial and advise you on what actions are required for reinstatement.
If you need more information on how to fight a DUI in Washington DC, please contact attorney Nabeel Kibria of Ervin Kibria Law at 202-689-4439.