A Wisconsin man is currently facing up to 30 years in prison after being convicted of his eighth DUI. In the state of Wisconsin, while a single DUI conviction is usually charged as a misdemeanor, multiple DUIs are charged as felonies which carry significantly higher penalties. Unlike in Wisconsin, however, DUIs within the District of Columbia are never charged as felonies.
As previously discussed, in the District, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has jurisdiction over the prosecution of DUIs. The OAG can only prosecute traffic misdemeanors like DUIs, reckless driving, and hit and runs. Conversely, if a person within DC is charged with a felony, the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) has jurisdiction to prosecute the case. Consequently, the OAG will rarely ever charge a DUI as a felony because it does not want to lose jurisdiction over the case. What this means is that no matter how many DUIs you get within DC, you will only ever be charged with a misdemeanor. So while the Wisconsin man mentioned earlier faces up to 30 years in prison for eight DUI convictions, the most time a person will spend in jail for any DC DUI or DWI is up to 1 year.
DC is one of the toughest jurisdiction on those who get behind the wheel of a car drunk. Whether you’re a first offender or a repeat offender, there are several provisions in the law that trigger mandatory minimum jail time and fines. However, for folks who get 3 or more DUI’s, DC is actually one of the softest. The reason is largely the fact the OAG does not want to cede jurisdiction over repeat offenders. Because the OAG has no jurisdiction to prosecute felonies, no matter how many DUI’s someone gets in DC, the crime remains a misdemeanor.
First time DUI offenders can face up to 180 days in jail and/or $1,000 in fines. In addition, there is a mandatory minimum of 10 to 20 days in jail if a driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .20%. Second time DUI offenders must spend at least 10 days in jail and could face up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. If a second offender has a BAC over .20% or they refuse to take a breathalyzer test, the mandatory minimum jail time is 10 to 35 days.
Third time DUI offenders must spent at least 12 days in jail and could face up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines. If a third time offender has a BAC over .20% or they refuse to take a breathalyzer test, the mandatory minimum jail time is 45 to 75 days in jail plus 30 days mandatory time for each previous offense. Fourth time and repeat DUI offenders must spend at least 45 days in jail plus 30 days mandatory time for each previous offense. A fourth and repeat offender may have to pay up to $10,000 in fines and spend additional mandatory time in jail if their BAC is over .20%.
What DC DUI law boils down to is that while you’ll only face up to 1 year in jail for the misdemeanor charge, the government is going to try its best to make you serve a mandatory minimum sentence. In the unfortunate event that you are arrested for a DUI within the District, it is important that you hire an experienced DUI attorney who can help you avoid as much mandatory jail time as possible. At Scrofano Law PC, we have successfully defended clients against DC DUI convictions.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DC DUI, call Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full consultation—and remember: Before you blow, call Joe!