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DC has three offenses related to drinking and driving: 

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI): DUI is a charge relating to a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. To prove DUI, the government must show that the defendant was in control of a motor vehicle, and that their ability to drive said vehicle was compromised due to alcohol or drugs intoxication. Essentially, DUI is charged when someone appears unable to safely operate motor vehicle because of drugs or alcohol usage, no matter how high or how low their BAC. 
  • Operating While Impaired (OWI): OWI is charged when the police believe a driver’s ability to control a motor vehicle is impaired by consumption of alcohol. Simply put, if the government believes you had a drink and it affected your ability to drive, they will charge you with OWI. DUI and OWI are essentially the same thing, but OWI carries a lighter penalty. 
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI): DWI is probably the simplest offense. To prove DWI, the police must show that the defendant was in control of a motor vehicle, while possessing a BAC of .08 or higher. However, the government does not need to show the driver was impaired. So, if someone has a BAC of .22, and is driving perfectly safely, they can still be charged with DWI. 

Each of these offenses carry escalating penalties. The first conviction carries the lightest penalties, while each subsequent conviction makes the penalties more and more severe. For example, the first DWI conviction can land you with a $1,000 fine and up 180 days in jail. The second conviction raises the stakes to a $2,500 - $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail. If you are accused of DUI, OWI, or DWI, it is important you seek legal counsel immediately. Mr. Norris has over two decades of experience fighting DUI, OWI and DWI charges, and is ready to take the fight to the government and protect your rights!