Washington, DC DUI Lawyers

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DC DUI Lawyer

So you were charged with DUI, DWI or OWI and now you need a DC DUI lawyer to help you figure out what to do. I am sure you are doing what most people do and trying to figure out who to hire and how much this is going to cost. We are criminal lawyers and its our goal to help you through this whether you hire us or some other lawyer. Lets start with the first notion that you must hire a criminal lawyer that handles DUI cases, also called DC DUI lawyer. A DC DUI lawyer or DWI lawyer would be defined as a lawyer in the District of Columbia that dedicates a substantial part of their criminal practice to going to court and representing individuals who are charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What Can You Expect If You’ve Been Charged With A DUI For The First Time?

If this is your first time ever being arrested for DUI, the first thing you need to do is relax.  This is not the end of the world.  Consider the following:

  • 1st time offender for a first-time DUI offense usually do not go to jail(although its possible);
  • You will have to contact DMV and request a hearing so that you can continue to drive;
  • You will have approximately 3 hearings in DC Superior Court;   
  • You need to find the right lawyer to fit your case;
  • Diversion may be available;
  • The fees for your lawyer should not break the bank. 

Do not be scared to pick up the phone and interview different DUI Attorneys.  

What is DUI, DWI and OWI in DC?

There are 3 charges that you may receive in the District of Columbia for drunk driving.  

Operating While Impaired (OWI) is a lesser charge for  Driving while Intoxicated (DUI).  Driving under the influence (DUI) is a charge in which the government must prove that you operated a vehicle while under influence of drug or alcohol.  Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) the prosecutor must prove that  alcohol concentration at the time of testing of 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of the person’s blood or per 210 liters of the person’s breath, or of 0.10 grams or more per 100 milliliters of the person’s urine. OWI  or DUI can be proven even when the BAC is below the legal limit. The government needs only to show that your ability to drive was impaired.  The penalties for an OWI is lighter than a DUI.   Some states do not recognize the charge of OWI; therefore, it may not result in loss of driving privileges for out-of-state drivers even if convicted.   That is why its imperative to consult with DC DUI lawyer.

Should I Hire a Washington, DC DUI Attorney or Represent Myself

Question that we are routinely asked – Should I hire a DUI attorney? If you are being accused of a Driving Under the influence, you may think, “I am smart; I don’t need a DUI Attorney.”  Furthermore, you have called around, and almost all DUI lawyers and criminal defense lawyers in the Washington, DC area have a sticker price of thousands of dollars.   So your thinking a lawyer is not going to change my odds of winning.     As a general rule, the less severe the crime, the better chance you have of representing yourself.  For Example, if you are charged with Speeding in the District of Columbia, you could consider representing yourself before a hearing commissioner in the District of Columbia.  

Drunk driving Charges are Serious

DUI charges are very serious.  There should be no question you need to hire a DC DUI lawyer.    While it’s not a felony, it is still considered one of the more serious misdemeanors in the District of Columbia.   Even if this is your first time being charged with a DUI, the consequences can be very serious.   In fact, in some scenarios, a person convicted of DUI in DC could go to jail.   Some people might think that they just have to pay a fine and they’re done.  That is rarely the outcome for people charged with DUI in the District of Columbia.    A DC DUI lawyer is going to fully explore all your options and put together a strategy to lessen the consequences. An experienced DUI attorney will also be able to tell you if you should plead innocent or guilty and what that plea will mean for you in the future.

How much will it cost for a Top DUI lawyer

Most lawyers will not put their legal fees online thats because the fees can differ from case; however, you should have a baseline. There are an endless number of things to consider and ask when deciding which DC DUI attorney to hire, one of the most important is the fee structure. Every DUI attorney charges a different amount and the cheapest does not indicate the best deal. Remember you are paying for a defense of your rights, be sure to weigh all considerations before choosing. Ask questions to understand what you will be paying. Remember a DC DUI conviction is permanent and can not be sealed. Read our blog on how much legal fees should cost for a DC DUI.

What is a DUI in the District of Columbia?

DUI in the District of Columbia is a misdemeanor offense.   The Office of Attorney General for the District of Columbia prosecutes the cases.  Develop a strong strategy with a DC DUI lawyer.   There is no expungement or sealing of a DUI case in the District of Columbia, which is why it is imperative to speak with a DUI attorney immediately.  In order to prove a DUI the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you operated a motor vehicle in the District of Columbia; and
  • That at the time you operated the vehicle, your content exceeded the permissible limits or you were under the influence of [an intoxicating liquor] [a narcotic drug] [a combination of an intoxicating liquor and a narcotic drug].

To “operate” means to have actual physical control over a vehicle. It includes, but is not limited to, driving, moving, pushing or parking a motor vehicle. The government need not prove that the vehicle was actually moving at the time it was under the defendant’s control.   You can be shown to operate by sitting in the front seat with the car on or off. 

What happens to my drivers license?

People charged with DUI in the District of Columbia are required to request a hearing at the DC Department of Motor Vehicle if they want to continue to drive in the District of Columbia while their case is pending in DC Superior Court.    You must request the hearing in person (or your lawyer can go) by going to 955 LEflant Plaza .  Remember: 

  • Must request the hearing within 10 days if your license is in DC
  • Must request the hearing within 15 days if your license is not in DC
  • The hearing will usually be scheduled within 30 days from the request
  • You must show up at the hearing

If you are charged with DUI in the District of Columbia you should contact a DC DUI Attorney immediately.  While a DUI in the District of Columbia is not the crime of the century, the collateral consequences can be dire. 

What is the police looking for when he hold up his pen/finger and ask me to follow it with my eyes?

Nystagmus is an involuntary jerking or bouncing of the eyeball that occurs when there is a disturbance of the vestibular (inner ear) system or the oculomotor control of the eye. Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) refers to a lateral or horizontal jerking when the eye gazes to the side. According to NHTSA, alcohol consumption or consumption of certain other central nervous system depressants, inhalants or phencyclidine, hinders the ability of the brain to correctly control eye muscles, therefore causing the jerk or bounce associated with HGN. As the degree of impairment becomes greater, the jerking or bouncing, i.e. the nystagmus, becomes more pronounced. This is assessed in the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. So when the police officer holds up his pen/finger and asks you to follow with your eyes, he is looking for nystagmus in your eyes.

Did I have to take the chemical (breathalyzer) test and what if I refused?

If you are arrested in the District of Columbia, you are required to take two breath, blood or urine tests. The DC Implied Consent Act provides that if you refuse to take the chemical test, your driving privileges will be suspended for one year. Refusing the test does not gurantee that you won’t be convicted of a DUI. The goverment may still get a conviction based on the totality of the circumstances. e.g. Field Sobriety Test, driving pattern, etc. You should consult an experienced DUI attorney to see how to defend your case.

Do I have to submit to a DUI Sobriety Checkpoint?

No.  There are DUI sobriety checkpoints in Maryland and in the District of Columbia.  In Maryland and in DC the police has the authority to lawfully order you out of the vehicle if the stop was legal.  This is done for the safety of the officers.  Once outside the vehicle, you can however invoke your right to remain silent.  You don’t have to answer any questions relating to where you are coming from or how much alcohol did you drink, etc.  You also do not have to submit to the field sobriety test.  Remember, be polite at all times to the police.

Can I Be Charged With Dui If My Car Is Parked And I Am Sleeping In It?

The answer is: yes. It depends on whether you are in physical control of the vehicle. You may have stopped driving and park the car because it’s the right thing to do. The District of Columbia drunk driving laws define “driving” as either be operating the vehicle or be in physical control over it. Was the key in the ignition? Was the car running?  If the officer determines that the sleeping driver was driving the vehicle earlier while intoxicated by alcohol that can be enough for that person to be arrested, charged and convicted of DUI. However, do not make any statements to the police officer about whether or not you had consumed alcohol.

Can I Be Charged With Dui On A Bicycle?

D.C. Code §§ 50–2201.02(9) includes DUI while on bicycle. The code defines a “vehicle” as ““any appliance moved over a highway on wheels or traction tread, including street cars, draft animals, and beasts of burden.”

Can I Be Charged With Dui If I Was Operating A Boat?

I know it sounds so unusual to get a DUI for Boating in DC.   Although rare, my firm has represented an individual for boating in DC.  The police were not able to make out the case for a number of reason and the case was dismissed.  The main reason the case was dismissed is because the police failed to take the same notes and follow the procedures for DUI Boat as they do for DUI in a motor vehicle.   D.C. Code § 50-2206.31 makes it illegal to operate a watercraft under the influece of drugs and/or alcohol. The penalties for boating under the influence (BUI) is the same as driving (a motor vehicle) while intoxicated. This is why it is important to understand the seriousness of a boat DUI or BUI offense, and know what to do for possible ways how to fight to beat a boating under the influence (BUI) charge offense.  D.C. Code 50-2206.32 provides the following penalties for a BUI First Offense: $1,000 fine, or incarcerated for not more than 180 days, or both.   Much like a drunk driving case, police office must have probable cause to believe that you are operating a watercraft under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Possible “clues” that he/she is looking for may include, but not limited to the following:

  • Erractic driving of the watercraft
  • Speeding
  • Boat registration issue
  • Equipment violation
  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Right of way violations

Just as a DUI case, the officers may conduct preliminary interview

What are the Penalties for dUI in the District of Columbia

DUI First Offense in the District of Columbia

The penalty for 1st time offense for DUI in the District of Columbia is 180 days and/or $1000.00 dollar fine.

DUI 2nd Offense in the District of Columbia

The penalty for 2nd offense for DUI in the District of Columbia is 1 year and/or $2500.00-$5000.00 dollar fine.  The mandatory Jail time is 10 days in jail.  

DUI 3rd Offense in the District of Columbia

The Penalty for 3rd Offense for DUI in the District of Columbia is 1 year and/or $2500.00-$10,000.00 dollar fine.  The mandatory jail time is 12 days in Jail.

DUI 4th and subsequent Offense in the District of Columbia

The Penalty for 4th Offense for DUI in the District of Columbia is 1 year and/or $2500.00 – $10,000.00 dollar fine.  There is a mandatory Jail time of 45 days (add 30 days for each subsequent offense).

OWI (Operating While Impaired) in the District of Columbia

The penalty for OWI in the District of Columbia is 90 days and/or $500.00 dollar fine.  

Click Here To See Grid of Penalties with Score Enhancements.  

Why Am I Charged With DUI And OWI?

These are two separate criminal charges and have different elements of law. However, ithe prosecutor will dismiss OWI on the day of trial and proceed with just a single count of DUI or DWI.

Do I Have A Right To An Attorney When I Take The Field Sobriety Test /Chemical Test?

No, you do not. However, you may ask the officer if you could consult with your attorney prior to taking the test.

Does the police need to give me miranda rights before asking me any questions?

While police officers are required to advise you of the 5th Amendment, it does not have to take place until after an arrest have taken place. This obligation is sometimes overlooked by the arresting officer.  Similar situations occur when the suspected drunk driver is not informed of their rights with chemical testing. There is an implied consent law in Washington, D.C. which deals with a suspect’s legal requirement to consent to a chemical test and penalties if the suspect refuses. This is regulation the suspect must be aware of as it can affect the length of suspension of their driver’s license.

Am I allowed to represent myself in court and/or at DC DMV?

Yes, however, we strongly advise against proceeding pro se (without a lawyer) in a DUI case or license suspension hearing at DMV. Defending a DUI case is a complicated matter. There are collateral consequences. You should consult with an experienced DUI Attorney to evaluate your defenses.

What are my defenses in DUI case?

At the outset, you should know that defending a DUI case is not a simple matter.  Please read our blog on DUI lawyer cost to get a baseline.   If you have been arrested for a DUI and want to fight the charge in court and at DMV, you should understand all the defenses that may be available to you. Were you actually “driving” the vehicle within the legal definition of D.C. Code? Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you? Did the officer Mirandize you? Did he/she give you warning about refusing to submit to the chemical test? Was the chemical test properly administered? Was the machine properly maintained and calibrated? You may also have witnesses who can testify to your appearance and behavior prior to the arrest, e.g. you appeared to be sober, you had bloodshot eyes because you just pulled a double shift at work, you ran a red light because you were distracted by the conversation you were having with your passenger. These are just a few of the defenses you may have. Consult with an experienced DUI Attorney.

What is “mouth alcohol?” in reference to a DUI?

Mouth alcohol is residual residual alcohol that can cause a breathalyzer to give false readings. If a DUI suspect consumes a substance that contains alcohol before taking a Breathalyzer test, the exhaled air will absorb alcohol not only from the lungs, but also from the substance used in the upper part of the mouth and throat. This can cause the Breathalyzer machine to show the alcohol concentration detected in the exhaled air as higher than the concentration in the lung air. Even a minute amount of undigested alcohol in a DWI suspect’s mouth can have a significant impact on a breath test reading.   Breath fresheners contains trace amount of alcohol. Bodily functions such as hiccups, hiccups, burps, or even vomit can also affect the test results. Dental caps and bridges can capture alcohol in a crevice and be blown out by a breath. If you have acid reflux, alcohol can travel up from gastric distress

What is a DUI “enhancement”?

A DUI enhancement or “sentence enhancement” is when the law requires stiffer penalties. Typical enhancement is a previous DUI conviction within the last 15 years. But other enhancement include having a minor in the vehicle, refusing to submit to chemical test, blood alcohol over a certain amount, etc.  Read our article on penalties of DUI.

If I am convicted of DUI Can I Seal or Expunge the Record?

No you can not seal or expunge a DUI or OWI conviction in the District of Columbia.  This is one of the reasons you should hire a lawyer because the conviction is permanent.  

Why did the police officer pull me for DUI?

These are the  20 most common “driving symptoms” exhibited by drunk drivers that police use as a reason for stopping a vehicle

  • Negotiating a wide turn
  • Straddling along the central marker between the lanes
  • Appearing to be Drunk
  • Near misses or hitting either another vehicle or an object
  • Weaving between lanes
  • Driving off of designated highway
  • Swerving within the lane lines
  • Speeding over 10 mph above the designated speed limit
  • Questionable stops in traffic lanes
  • Tailgating
  • Drifting
  • Driving over center marker between lanes
  • Excessive braking
  • Driving against traffic
  • Questionable signaling
  • Delayed reaction to traffic signals
  • Inappropriate stopping or slowing
  • Illegal or unwarranted turns
  • Accelerating or slowing down quickly
  • Driving without headlights on
I Still Have Questions About My Case. Do You Offer Free Consultations?

The best source is to consult with an experienced DUI Attorney who knows the DC drunk driving laws. we are here to offer you the aggressive and dedicated representation you deserve. Contact our law office today and  DUI attorney Mark Rollins or Ada Chan today to learn more about how you can avoid serious DUI penalties. 202-455-5610.  We offer a free consultation for your DC DUI. Most people are scared to pick up the phone for a variety reasons. You do not need to feel intimated because we are the friendliest lawyers in town and as you will learn after speaking to Ms. Chan or Mr. Rollins they will make you feel comfortable.  

Why Should I hire you as my DC DUI lawyer

"Mark and Ada are incredibly good at what they do, helping resolve my query in record time...”

client 2019 (from Google Reviews)

required Court appearance

court appearance

If you are charged with DUI in the District of Columbia you will be required to go to Court.  A DUI lawyer will fight to get their client’s case dismissed.   

When you are charged with a DUI you should contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible.  Rollins and Chan’s attorneys are attorneys that have handled hundreds of DUI cases in the District of Columbia and will protect your rights.  We will go to DC Superior Court and be at every hearing with you.     We have over 20 years of criminal law experience.


Arraignment hearing

Your first appearance in Court.   The Court (Judge) tells you officially what the charges are.


Status Hearing

The status hearing where you have to make a decision of whether you will go to trial, accept the plea offer, or engage in diversion options.



If you elected to go to trial, you will have your trial before the Court.  If you lose you will go to sentencing.  

We are there with you every step of the way.

Mark and Ada have been representing people charged with DUI in DC for over 22 years.

Client Reviews

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Title: I was very impressed

Client Description:

I was very impressed by the knowledge, professionalism, efficiency, responsiveness, and attention to detail that these 2 amazing attorneys manifested through my experience with them. They listened to all of my concerns and addressed each issue one at a time and took the time to explain everything in lengthy detail. This made me feel comfortable and they delivered on what I requested from them exactly as they promised. I HIGHLY recommend these 2 for your legal services. I promise you, you will not find a better duo., A++

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