D.C.'s Zero Tolerance DUI Policy and the Fourth of July Weekend

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D.C. criminal defense attorney Shawn Sukumar discusses the District's DUI laws and what Fourth of July weekend revelers should know before they hit the road.

The Fourth of July holiday is best known as a time to celebrate our nation’s independence with fireworks, food, family, and friends. Sadly, however, the holiday is also known for being one of the worst times of year for DUI arrests.

To keep our communities safe, the Metropolitan Police Department and other law enforcement agencies will be out in full force with saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints staged throughout the Washington, D.C. region. Obviously the best way to avoid a DUI arrest is to avoid drinking and driving, advises DUI lawyer and criminal defense attorney Shawn Sukumar.

“If you ask most people what they picture when thinking about a DUI arrest, they would probably describe someone who is extremely intoxicated, weaving all over the road with police in hot pursuit,” Shawn says. “The truth, however, is a DUI arrest can involve relatively low levels of intoxication. That is because Washington, D.C. has a strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving.”

Because of that zero tolerance stance, any measurable amount of alcohol can lead to a DUI or DWI arrest in the District of Columbia, Shawn warns. That means that even if you have had only one or two drinks, and you register less than 0.08 on a breath test, you are still risking serious legal repercussions, from jail time and court fines to the loss of your license and increased insurance premiums.

To avoid a D.C. DUI arrest, Shawn recommends the following:

  • Call a taxi or, if you are in a group, chose a designated driver who will abstain from all alcohol consumption.
  • Be aware that patrols and checkpoints are heaviest in those areas where celebrations are held, such as parks, community centers, the Washington Mall and monuments, and popular bar and restaurant zones.

If you are stopped at a checkpoint or pulled over:

  • Remain calm, be polite, keep your hands on the wheel at all times, and wait until you are asked by the officer to retrieve your documents.
  • You are not legally required to answer questions about your alcohol consumption.
  • There is no legal requirement to perform field sobriety tests or to consent to a search of your vehicle.
  • You may be asked to provide both a roadside breath test (RBT) prior to your arrest, which is not admissible as evidence, and a breath sample at a police station after your arrest, which is admissible. You can choose whether or not to submit a breath sample, but refusing to do so could result in consequences such as the loss of your driving privileges in D.C. for one year. Producing a breath sample with results of 0.20 or higher could result in mandatory jail time, even for your first offense.

Finally, for those who are arrested for DUI in the District of Columbia, contacting an attorney who is well-versed in DUI law and who has a strong record for successfully defending clients against DUI charges is crucial. Shawn Sukumar is a skilled criminal defense lawyer who is barred in Washington, DC and who has handled a variety of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases.

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Tracy Manzer, Senior Editor of Content
Price Benowitz LLP
+1 202-417-6000 Ext: 122
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Price Benowitz, LLP

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