An Alarming Trend in DC DUI Arrests

black police cuffsThe District of Columbia Superior Court is unlike many jurisdictions in that it does not have a bail bond system. In fact, there is not a single bail bonds person or business in the entire District. The City Council outlawed bail bonds years ago. So, the question is how is bond determined in a DC criminal case. DC Superior Court has a condition based system that starts with the general principle that most people should be released on their personal promise to appear in court.

That means in most misdemeanor cases, including DUIs, the person arrested will be released and required to sign notice to return for their next court date and appear with their attorney. The notice informs the person that if they fail to appear at the next court date, they could be charged with a separate crime (called a Bail Reform Act violation) that carries a maximum penalty of 180 days and/or a $1,000.00 fine. Often times, however, the judge will also impose court ordered conditions as part of the person’s release. Sometimes these conditions make sense. For example, when a repeat drug offender gets ordered to participate in a drug treatment program. However, many times the conditions imposed can be invasive, burdensome, and even paternalistic.

As previously discussed, the Pretrial Services Agency supervises most of the individuals charged with a crime and released on their personal promise to appear. Pretrial is a giant government bureaucracy that is understaffed and overworked. However, it appears that a recent trend has been a push to get more individuals charged with DUI’s and DWI’s in DC under Pretrial Supervision. At Scrofano Law PC, we recommend anyone charged with a DC DUI, including a first-offender enroll in a private alcohol program in an effort to avoid the requirement to report to and be supervised by Pretrial Services Agency.

However, a recent trend has been that Magistrate Judges in Superior Court who handle DC DUI and DWI cases, will order Pretrial to supervise the individual anyway and make sure the person completes the program. This trend is alarming because it wastes public resources and subjects many people who have never been in the criminal justice system and were arrested in an isolated incident to a burdensome bureaucratic nightmare.

At Scrofano Law PC, we usually refer clients to a well-respected private alcohol program. The program consists of an initial evaluation by a Doctor and 20 hours of education and treatment. The program is serious and is not just something we refer clients to do just to check a box. In many cases its personally helpful for the client. The program is accepted by the DC DMV as a traffic alcohol program. The government will accept it for a Deferred Sentencing Agreement and probation will accept it as fulfillment of the usually imposed court ordered condition that a defendant complete a traffic alcohol program. Finally, because it’s a serious program under the supervision of a doctor, often times judges will not impose the requirement to report to Pretrial Services despite what is a trend otherwise.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for a DC DUI or a DC DWI, its important you hire a lawyer who has experience fighting these cases and getting great results. At Scrofano Law PC, we have a team of lawyers who will be committed 110 percent to your case. Please contact us today for a full case evaluation. And remember: before you blow, call Joe!