Driving While Intoxicated/ Driving Under the Influence
In recent years groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have launched a concerted effort to assure that Judges severely punish those accused of driving while intoxicated. Because of the ever increasing scrutiny of their sentences, judges have become more prone to incarceration or other severe penalties for those charged with driving offenses which involve alcohol or drugs. The state legislatures have also reacted by passing laws which require mandatory jail terms for certain offenses or repeat offenders, as well as mandatory loss of driving privileges.
If you have been charged with Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence you should be aware that there are two proceedings which will take place. The first is in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia where you will be charged with a criminal offense, punishable by a potential jail term as well as a fine. A totally separate proceeding will be conducted by the Department of Motor Vehicles, Traffic Adjudication Branch. This agency will determine whether or not you keep your driver’s license. It is important that your attorney coordinate both proceedings in an effort to assure that you do not go to jail and that you keep your driving privilege.
Once charged with a driving offense involving alcohol or drugs you should immediately contact an attorney. You will usually be given a date to return to court for your first appearance before a judge and you should certainly have an attorney on board before you attend that hearing. You should also be aware that you have a limited number of days in which to request a hearing to keep your driver’s license. If you fail to request the hearing your driving privileges will automatically be suspended.
There are numerous pitfalls which await you; but an experienced attorney can walk you through the mine field and substantially increase your chances of both avoiding sever punishment in Superior Court and in keeping your driver’s license.
Since there are now mandatory jail terms, even for first offenders whose blood alcohol content reaches a certain level, since the paperwork you receive from the police officer may, and often is, flawed in one aspect or another, since missing deadlines of which you are not aware could cost you your ability to drive and since the arresting officers often give incorrect information to those who they have arrested, I suggest you seek legal counsel immediately after your arrest. A few minutes on the phone with an experienced attorney can at least leave you confident that you have not missed any important deadlines and anything you do before you have a chance to actually retain an attorney does not jeopardize your future driving privileges or your criminal case in court.
If you have questions, call me. I can advise you of your rights, how I believe your case should be handled and let you know what your chances of success are.