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How are drunk drivers penalized in Washington, D.C.?

If you've been injured by a drunk driver, you want to know that the individual who caused you harm will face consequences. Washington, D.C., has very specific standards for charging people with crimes for their actions when it comes to drinking and driving.

What is a DWI?

Driving while intoxicated is better known as DWI. In Washington, D.C., the .08 percent blood alcohol concentration standard was adopted in 1999. Anyone with this BAC or higher can be convicted on the blood, breath or urine tests alone. No structured field sobriety test is required in the capitol.

Is a DUI the same as a DWI?

A DUI, which stands for driving under the influence, can apply to anyone with a blood alcohol concentration of .07 or lower. If a person appears impaired based on a field sobriety test and has a positive BAC screening, then the officer can charge the individual with a DUI. Essentially, the individual is not considered over the legal limit but is still impaired enough to result in a penalty.

Is underage drinking allowed at all? What about small portions, like some states allow?

Underage drinking is illegal in the capitol. People under the age of 21 are not allowed to consume, purchase or possess alcohol in any form. If they are caught with any amount of alcohol and are operating a vehicle, they can be charged with a DWI and be placed under arrest. They do not have to have any alcohol in their systems to face this charge; purchasing or possessing it is enough to land them in trouble.

Source: Metropolitan Police Department, "Drunk Driving Prevention," accessed July 06, 2016

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