District of Columbia Drunk Driving Laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in D.C.?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .04 percent or greater.
  • Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their blood, breath, or urine contains any measurable amount of alcohol.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in D.C.

  • First-time offenders face up to 180 days in prison. They must also pay a fine of up to $1,000. If, however, the offender’s BAC was at least .20 but not more than .25, an additional five-day mandatory minimum prison term will be imposed. If the offender’s BAC was more than .25, the additional mandatory minimum prison term is 10 days. The driver’s license revocation period is 90 days.
  • A person who commits a second DUI within a 15-year period will be imprisoned for five days to one year, or be required to perform at least 30 days of community service work. Second-time offenders must also pay a fine ranging between $2,500 and $5,000. If, however, the person’s BAC was at least .20 but not more than .25, an additional 10-day mandatory minimum prison term will be imposed. If the offender’s BAC was more than .25, the additional mandatory minimum prison term is 20 days. The driver’s license revocation period is two years, unless the offender’s license is reinstated pursuant to the District’s ignition interlock program.
  • A person who commits a third or subsequent DUI within a 15-year period will be imprisoned for 10 days to one year, or be required to perform at least 60 days of community service work. The person must also pay a fine ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. If, however, the person’s BAC was at least .20 but not more than .25, an additional 15-day mandatory minimum prison term will be imposed. If the BAC level was more than .25, the additional mandatory minimum prison term is 25 days. The driver’s license revocation period is three years, unless the license is reinstated pursuant to the District’s ignition interlock program.
  • An additional 30-day mandatory-minimum term of incarceration shall be imposed for each additional violation.
  • There are increased incarceration sentencings for each offense if BAC is above .20, .25, or .30.

Additional Penalty for Drunk Drivers Carrying Passengers 17 and Under

If a person is convicted of DUI while a person 17 or under was in the vehicle, the offender must pay an additional fine ranging from $500 to $1,000. There is a mandatory incarceration period of 5 days per minor (if the minors are restrained in age-appropriate restraints) or 10 days per minor (if the minors are not restrained in age-appropriate restraints).

The offender will also be sentenced to perform 48 hours of community service work that benefits children. For a subsequent offense, the offender will be required to perform 80 hours of community service work that benefits children.

Ignition Interlock

DMV has introduced an Ignition Interlock Device Program. This program allows for a discretionary one-year reduction of the revocation period of certain drivers who have been convicted of a second or subsequent alcohol related offense. DMV may reinstate the driving privileges of a person convicted of a second or subsequent alcohol related offense if that person satisfies all other conditions for license reinstatement and installs an approved Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

Participation in the program will allow you to obtain a restricted drivers license and drive designated vehicles with installed ignition interlock devices. The restriction and conditions will remain in place for one year, unless extended as a result of a violation of program rules or other driving related events.

Commercial Drivers

In addition to other penalties associated with the District’s DUI laws, a first-time offender who is convicted of driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol faces a one-year suspension of his or her commercial license. For a second violation, the suspension period ranges from 10 years to life. Third-time offenders will lose their commercial license for life.

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What is the District of Columbia’s Dram Shop Act?

DC Code § 25-781(b) prohibits taverns from providing alcohol to minors or visibly intoxicated persons which may create civil liability to injured parties.

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Criminal Penalties for Selling or Furnishing Alcohol to Minors

It is a crime to sell or furnish alcohol to a person under 21. A person who violates this law for the first time faces up to 180 days in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. A person who commits a second offense within two years of the first conviction faces up to 180 days in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. A person who commits a third or subsequent offense within two years of the previous offense faces up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

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The materials at this web site have been prepared by our Law Firm for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. These materials do not, and are not, intended to constitute legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. The information provided at this site is subject to change without notice. Although we try to keep our site current and accurate, you should not rely on this information or its applicability to any specific circumstances without speaking with an attorney.
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