DC DUI: Frequently Asked Questions (Part I)

This posting is the first in a three part series that seeks to answer some of the many questions people have regarding DC DUI arrests.  This post, like all posts, is not intended to serve as legal advice and is for educational purposes only.

Do I have to blow into the breath machine?

This question is complicated, but the short answer is no.  However, if you refuse to blow into the breathalyzer or submit to a urine or blood sample, the DC Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend your license for one year.  Although any arrest or conviction for DUI or DWI in DC can result in a loss of license for at least six months anyway.  The refusal may add another six months.  However, most DC DUI judges will give probation to first time offenders.  However, if your breath score is above a .20, then that triggers mandatory minimum jail time under the law.  That means even if the judge only wants you to give you probation, she must give you some mandatory minimum time.  The new law also prevents this time from being served on the weekends.  DUI is the only crime where the law literally requires you to incriminate yourself while police investigate you or be punished.

Do I have to take the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (or “SFST’s”)?

I previously discussed what the SFST’s are in a three part series but, in short, it’s the follow the pen test, walk a straight line test, and stand on one leg test.  No legal requirement exists to take SFST’s.  In fact, doing so only provides the government with more evidence to use against you at trial.  In any encounter with the police, its smart to be polite and treat them with respect.  If I were stopped and asked to perform the SFST’s, I would politely and respectfully decline to do so.  Doing that would likely result in an arrest for DUI.  However, if the police ask someone to step outside the vehicle to take the SFST’s, they have usually made their mind up at this point to make an arrest anyway.  I have defended cases where the person passed the SFST’s and the police still made the arrest and the prosecutors still pursued the case.

What is a Notice of Proposed Revocation?

This question is very important and has serious implications for the driving privileges of someone arrested for DUI.  If you have a DC driver’s license and the police arrest you for DUI, the police are supposed to give you a piece of paper called a Notice of Proposed Revocation.  Read the Notice carefully and follow the instructions.  If you do not physically go to the DMV and request a hearing within ten days, your license will be suspended for six months.  If you have an out of state driver’s license, you have fifteen days to request the hearing.  If you do not, your DC driving privileges will be suspended.  That means you could have a valid Maryland license and get pulled over in DC and still be arrested for Operating After Revocation because your DC privileges are revoked.

Do I need a lawyer for a DUI or DWI arrest?

Anyone arrested for DUI should absolutely hire an experienced DC DUI lawyer who can properly advise them of all their options and fight to protect their rights.  DUI’s are the most serious misdemeanor someone can be charged with in DC.  It’s the only misdemeanor that carries mandatory minimum jail time in certain circumstances (even for first offenders).  Conviction for DUI can result in loss of license, loss of employment, exorbitant insurance premiums, and a number of other collateral consequences.  If you are arrested for DUI, contact Scrofano Law for a free and full consultation today.  Remember Before you Blow, Call Joe!