Washington D.C. DUI Lawyer Jason Kalafat Helps Explain, Reacts To Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012

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Washington D.C. DUI laws will be drastically altered with new statutes that will greatly enhance associated penalties.

The following is an interview with Washington DC DUI lawyer Jason Kalafat on the new DUI laws that will go into effect for the District of Columbia on August 1st, 2012. Please follow this link to read the entire Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012 that Mr. Kalafat is commenting on.

-What are some of the basic elements of the new law?

"There are increases in the minimum fines and jail time with certain types of DUIs. Now the minimum sentence is ten days if your breath or blood score hits .20, it used to be five days. There are a certain percentage of DUI cases that will affect, but what concerns me more is the breath test program. According to this law it will not be up and running again until October. That means, this new law goes into effect, police in the district are still going to be using an invalid urine test, that are going to result in mandatory time that has now been doubled for each of the levels. So for example if you have a false-high urine score of .25, which required a five-day jail sentence, that now requires a ten-day jail sentence."

-How does the new law affect those that are found to be impaired by drugs during the time of arrest?

"The law now holds that if you have drugs or the metabolites of drugs in your urine, for example cocaine, heroin, morphine, methamphetamine, then there is a fifteen-day mandatory minimum term of incarceration. The problem with that is that a metabolite of a drug doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is under the influence of that drug at the time of the test. So your urine can be tested at a time when you’re no longer under the influence of that drug, but now you can have fifteen-day mandatory minimum incarceration if you test positive. That really concerns me, because, again, they aren’t going to show that you are actually under the influence of the drug or impaired by the drug, but you are still going to have to do fifteen days in jail."

-How does the new law affect those that drive commercial vehicles?

"There is the added commercial vehicle component, where the statutory blood alcohol content for the driver of a commercial vehicle is now 0.04. That’s concerning because someone could not be impaired, at all, but if their BAC comes up at 0.04 or above, could actually be convicted if they are driving a commercial vehicle. There is a five-day mandatory jail term if you are driving a commercial vehicle, so they’ve lowered what your blood alcohol has to be and add mandatory jail on top of it. I don’t see the need to add on additional penalties when it is not even proven that someone is impaired at all. You are lowering the threshold to a point where it is otherwise presumed that you are not impaired. If someone else is pulled over with a 0.04 BAC, there is a presumption under the law that they are not impaired, that they are not going to able to be convicted of a DWI or a DUI. Now, if I’m renting a truck and I'm moving my office furniture, same exact situation, that 0.04 which was otherwise acknowledged in the law as not being impaired, now with the new law is considered impaired, and comes with a five-day mandatory sentence. You’re going to be causing individuals to lose their jobs, to lose their driver’s license, based on a statutory threshold that otherwise is acknowledged not to be impaired. For every other person 0.04 is not impaired, but now it is if you happen to be driving a commercial vehicle."

-How will this new law affect those arrested for DUI while they have minors in the car?

"There is a new provision in this law regarding the presence of minors in a vehicle driven by someone who is being charged with a DUI or other alcohol driving offense. Under the new law if a person is convicted of a DUI, DWI or OWI, if at the time they are operating their vehicle or have physical control of the vehicle, and there is a minor in the vehicle, then they, in addition to any other penalties, will be fined $500-1,000 per child in the vehicle and be incarcerated for a mandatory minimum term of five days for every minor determined to be buckled up properly considering their age. The penalty increases to ten days if the minor is found to be incorrectly restrained. If you have four minors in the vehicle, you’re facing between 20 and 40 days, depending on whether or not each particular minor was appropriately restrained. Even if the vehicle was never driven one inch, under the law, if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, you are facing between 5-10 days of jail per kid."

-How will this new law affect the way cases are handled by the judicial system?

"The more ways in which the prosecutor can allege mandatory jail, the more control they have over the plea bargaining process. The more you’re taking discretion out of the hands of the judge, the more power you put in the hands of the prosecutor, which is not what you want. You don’t want the person who has the discretion to charge to be able to control the outcome. Every time you put mandatory jail into the law, you take discretion away from the judge."

For more information about these new laws, please contact our Washington DC DUI attorney website.

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Jordan Ruby
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