From the office of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, Irvin Nathan

Enforcement of the District’s laws against drunk driving is a top priority of the Office of the Attorney General, MPD and the entire Gray Administration. Starting on August 1, Washington, D.C. begins to get tougher on drunk drivers when emergency legislation, introduced by Mayor Gray and passed by the City Council under the leadership of Chairman Phil Mendelson earlier this month, will take effect.

The Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012 will crack down on drunk driving with more jail time for repeat offenders and drivers with very high breath alcohol scores. It includes tough, new provisions for impaired drivers of commercial vehicles including taxi cabs, limos, shuttle buses and 18-wheelers. The law also gives prosecutors additional tools in court if repeat offenders refuse a BAC test. The following is a list of just a few of the important changes:

  1. The new law will make important increases to the maximum incarceration periods and fines for anyone convicted of driving under the influence in the District.
  2. The new law doubles the mandatory minimum jail sentences from five to ten days for those offenders convicted of having a blood alcohol concentration of .20% or higher, or offenders convicted of a previous DUI.
  3. Offenders with a minor child in the vehicle will face have a minimum five-day jail sentence if the child is in a required child restraint seat and ten days if they are not. Enhanced penalties will apply if the child is injured by the drunk driver.
  4. Blood alcohol limits for commercial vehicle operators in the District have been set to .04%, including vehicles-for-hire, for the first time.

The law also streamlines and consolidates the parts of the D.C. Code applicable to impaired driving. It updates and clarifies definitions and separates out the fleeing from the scene of an accident and driving under the influence provisions of the law currently under the same code. Through this new law, the Administration is sending a strong message to drivers in the District that driving drunk is a serious crime and violators will be prosecuted.

We believe this new law will deter drunk drivers in passenger and commercial vehicles in the District and make us a model for the nation. For any questions about this new law, please contact AAG Dave Rosenthal at dave.rosenthal@dc.gov