dui-arrest

Driving in the District of Columbia

Law enforcement in the District of Columbia is very aggressive in stopping vehicles where they suspect that the driver is impaired or under the influence of alcohol or any drug.  You need a lawyer on your side to watch out for you. 

You need the Law Office of Bruce M. Cooper. 

Call for a free consultation at (202) 628-8494.

Member, National College for DUI Defense.

Driving Offenses relating to alcohol or drugs may include the following:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DU)
  • Operating While Impaired (OWI)

If you are pulled over for a traffic violation, the police may use a number of standardized “tests” to determine your sobriety or impairment.  These field sobriety tests may include:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (“HGN”)

HGN is the involuntary jerking of the eyes that occurs as the eyes gaze towards the side while the head is in a stationary position.  In administering the HGN test, the officer has the driver follow the horizontal motion of a pen or flashlight.  As a person’s blood alcohol content (“BAC”) increases, the eyes will begin to jerk sooner as they move to the side.  The examiner looks for three indicators of impairment in each eye.  These indicators are called “clues.”  If four or more clues appear, there is a likely blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater.  It is considered to be the most reliable field sobriety test.

Walk and Turn

Although it sounds easy, the walk and turn field sobriety test is complicated because of the explicit instructions that must be followed.  It is a “divided attention” test requiring the suspect to stand in a particular manner while listening to the instructions.  The instructions are complicated and the stance can actually become painful while waiting to begin the walk.  The waiting part, however, is considered to be part of the test.  When the instructions are finally given, the subject is told to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line while counting out loud.  In administering the test, the officer looks for eight indicators of impairment.  These are:

  1. subject can’t hold balance during instructions;
  2. subject starts too soon;
  3. subject stops while walking;
  4. subject doesn’t touch heel-to-toe;
  5. subject steps off the line;
  6. subject uses arms to balance;
  7. subject loses balance on turn or turns incorrectly; and
  8. subject takes the wrong number of steps.    

If a suspect exhibits two or more clues, the blood alcohol content (BAC) is likely above 0.08.

One-Leg Stand

Another divided attention test, it consists of two stages:

  1. Instructions stage; and
  2. Balance and counting stage.

The instructions stage divides the subject’s attention between a balancing task (maintaining a stance) and an information processing task (listening to and remembering instructions).  The balance and counting stage requires the subject to raise one leg approximately six inches of the ground for thirty sections while counting by thousands, i.e., one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, etc.  Four indicators of impairment are:

  1. subject sways while balancing;
  2. subject uses arms to balance;
  3. subject hops; or
  4. subject puts foot down.

Penalties

Driving Under the Influence

First Conviction

  • legal maximum is up to 180 days in jail and/or a $1000.00 fine;
  • if BAC between 0.20 and 0.25 grams – 10 days mandatory-minimum term of incarceration;
  • if BAC more than 0.25 grams – 15 days mandatory-minimum term of incarceration;
  • if BAC more than 0.30 grams – 20 days mandatory-minimum term of incarceration;
  • if a Schedule 1 controlled substance found – 20 days mandatory-minimum term of incarceration.

Second Conviction (within 15 years of prior conviction)

  • up to one year in jail – 10 days mandatory-minimum term of incarceration;
  • if BAC between 0.20 and 0.25 grams – 15 days mandatory-minimum term of incarceration;
  • if BAC more than 0.25 grams – 20 days mandatory-minimum term of incarceration;
  • if BAC more than 0.30 grams – 25 days mandatory-minimum term of incarceration;
  • if a Schedule 1 controlled substance found – 20 days mandatory-minimum term of incarceration.

Penalties increase in severity for additional convictions or if juveniles are in the car. 

DO NOT LEAVE YOURSELF UNPROTECTED. 

CALL FOR YOUR FREE CONSULTATION AT (202) 628-8494. 

Defense Strategies

The field sobriety tests are indicators of impairment and not conclusive of impairment.  They must be conducted in a prescribed manner by a trained officer.  If not properly administered, these deviations form the basis of a defense.  An innocent driver, for example, may be nervous or tired and fail to perform properly.  A driver with a medical infirmity may also have a problem in performing these strenuous tests. 

DO NOT IGNORE YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS – HIRE THE LAW OFFICE OF BRUCE M. COOPER.

CALL FOR YOUR FREE CONSULTATION AT (202) 628-8494.