Enhancement penalties for DUI in the District of Columbia
A question that comes up often is whether a prior DUI where you received a deferred sentencing agreement (DSA) or probation before Judgement (PBJ) will count as enhancement to your new DUI in the District of Columbia?
Prior DUI outside of the District of Columbia?
Under the District of Columbia law a prior offense for DUI where you entered a guilty plea but were not convicted still enhances the new DUI offense. DC Code 50-2206.13 states “”Prior offense” means any guilty plea or verdict, including a finding of guilty in the case of a juvenile, for an offense under District law or a disposition in another jurisdiction for a substantially similar offense which occurred before the current offense regardless of when the arrest occurred.” In other words a conviction is not required in order for the penalty to be enhanced. So even though you may have received a PBJ in Maryland or DSA in the District of Columbia – the new DUI can still be enhanced under the District of Columbia law.
Some Judges will only allow enhancements if it was District of Columbia DUI
Some Judges in DC Superior Court have held that the enhancements for DUI only applies if your prior DUI was in the District of Columbia. The rationale for this is because the legislature specifically delimited the scope of prior offense to state “prior offense under § 50-2206.11, § 50-2206.12, or § 50-2206.14.” Its a profound argument and some of my colleagues have been successful in making this argument before some of the Judges in DC Superior Court. It should also be noted that some of the Judges in DC Superior Court are not buying the argument because of the legislature history of the statute.
Therefore, if you received a PBJ or DSA, the prosecutor in the District of Columbia could still request to enhance the penalties. There is a strong argument that the enhancements should not apply. Remember, the enhanced penalty carries a fine not less than $2,500 and not more than $5,000, or incarcerated for not more than one year, or both and a 10 day mandatory jail sentence.