This post is the first in a two part series that discusses the consequences of a DC DUI or DWI conviction. As I have discussed in previous posts, DUI’s in the District of Columbia are heavily enforced and aggressively prosecuted. A first time DUI offense in the District of Columbia is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. While it is a misdemeanor (as opposed to a more serious felony), the consequences of a DUI conviction can be far reaching.
Because of the serious consequences, it is important that anyone charged with a DC DUI hire an experienced and aggressive DUI lawyer.
This post will discuss some of the main consequences that are common to all DC DUI convictions. Some people may suffer additional specific consequences unique to their own situation. For example, a specific employer could find out about the conviction and terminate the individual’s job or an individual could suffer serious family problems as a result. However, this post will discuss consequences that apply to everyone.
The first main consequence is that the court will likely put the individual on at least one year of supervised probation. That could be in addition to a small amount of jail time (like 5 to 30 days) or in lieu of jail completely. Most (but not all) first time offenders get probation. DC supervised probation is a tremendous inconvenience and extremely unpleasant experience. The probationer has a court supervision officer who may basically act as that one’s own personal policeman. The probationer has to drug test weekly, report to the probation officer at least once a week, and subject themselves to home visits. Home visits are where the probation officer comes to the probationers home to determine whether the person is living in a stable environment.
For anyone, these types of conditions can be humiliating, inconvenient, and tedious. In addition, most DC DUI sentences include a requirement that the person convicted complete several special conditions. These special conditions include completion of a Traffic Alcohol Program, a Victim Impact Panel, and Traffic Safety Program. The government asks for these three conditions in almost every DC DUI or DWI conviction.
The Traffic Alcohol Program (or TAP) is the most time consuming and expensive of the three classes. The Family and Medical Counseling Services is the organization that administers the TAP. A typically TAP program consists of an intake (which costs around $80) and then around 12 sessions of coursework (at $30 per course). Failure to complete this special condition could result in probation revocation and jail time.
The Victim Impact Panel is a class administered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (or MADD). This program is much shorter and less expensive than the TAP and involves friends and family members of victims of drunk driving tell their stories about the tragic consequences of drunk driving. Failure to complete this special condition could result in probation revocation and jail time.
Finally, the Traffic Safety Program is any course that focuses on driver safety. This course can be completed online. I typically recommend that clients complete the course at idrivesafely.com. It is a program approved by the DC Office of the Attorney General where the person completing it can pay online, save their work, and take breaks while completing this 8 hour online class. Failure to complete this special condition could result in jail time.
In addition to these special condition, the court could impose fines, community service, and/or restitution or other special conditions. This post only discusses direct consequences of a DC DUI or DWI conviction. Part 2 will discuss some of the collateral consequences.