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Penalties for Drinking and Driving


General Penalties

Maximum Penalty Mandatory Minimum Jail Time
Offense Status

Maximum Penalties
(Jail & Fines)

License Revocation

Refusal or Alcohol Score below .20 Breath or Blood Alcohol Content (BrAC/BAC) or .25 Urine Alcohol Content (UAC)

.20 BrAC/BAC

.25 Urine Alcohol Content (UAC)

>.25 BrAC/BAC

>.32 UAC

>.30 BrAC/BAC

>.39 UAC

1st Offense

180 days and/or $1,000

6-month license revocation

none 10 days 15 days 20 days
2nd Offense

1 year and/or $2,500-$5,000

1-year license revocation

10 days 25 days 30 days 35 days
3rd Offense

1 year and/or $2,500-$10,000

2-year license revocation

12 days 35 days 40 days 45 days
4th and Subsequent Offenses 1 year and/or $2,500-$10,000 45 days (add 30 days for each subsequent offense) 65 days (add 30 days for each subsequent offense) 70 days (add 30 days for each subsequent offense) 75 days (add 30 days for each subsequent offense)

Additional Mandatory Minimum Penalties

  • Minor in the Vehicle. In addition to the penalty in the chart, a person will receive 5 days Mandatory Minimum sentence for each minor that is properly restrained in an appropriate car seat, booster seat, or seat belt and 10 days Mandatory Minimum sentence for each minor that is not properly restrained.  In addition, the possible maximum fine, noted in the second column of the chart, is increased by $500 for each properly restrained minor and $1,000 for each improperly restrained minor.
  • Prohibited Drugs. Persons driving impaired who have a Schedule I chemical or controlled substance or PCP, Cocaine, Methadone, Morphine, or one of its active metabolites or analogs in their blood or urine will receive  an additional Mandatory Minimum sentence.  The amount of required jail time begins with 15 days for a first offense and increases with each subsequent conviction.
  • Commercial Vehicle, including taxis and pedicabs. In addition to the penalties in the chart, drivers of these vehicles will receive a 5 day Mandatory Minimum sentence.   *** Note that a person driving a commercial vehicle is "per se" (in and of itself) impaired if their BRAC/BAC/UAC is .04 or above.

Zero Tolerance for Youth

In 2007, 31 percent of young drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed in alcohol related crashes vehicle had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .01 or greater, and 26 percent of young drivers had BACs of .08 or greater. The risk of a fatal crash for drivers under 21 is greater at low alcohol levels than it is for older drivers.

It is illegal in every state for persons under the age of 21 to purchase and publicly possess alcoholic beverages. In support of these laws, it is illegal for persons under 21 who have been drinking to drive. A zero tolerance law makes it illegal "per se" (in and of itself) for persons under the age of 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood.

The use-lose statutes make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, transport, or consume alcohol. A youth with a measurable amount of alcohol in his or her body is in violation of the law and loses his or her driver's license, usually for six months to one year. For youths not yet licensed to drive, the law typically delays issuance of a driver's license for a specific period (usually six months to a year).

***Adults/Parents who aid minors in obtaining alcohol may be fined $300 and have their licenses revoked for up to 90 days.

Underage (Under 21) Laws and Consequences

  • Drinking and Driving. ANY measurable amount of alcohol in breath, blood, or urine puts the person on the chart above and qualifies them for additional mandatory minimum periods.
  • Possession of a false ID, altered driver's license, or lying about age to get alcohol. Criminally prosecuted, $300 - $1,000 fine, and suspension of driver’s license for 90 days to one year.
  • Consuming alcohol. Civil fine of $300 - $1,000 and suspension of driver’s license for 90 days to one year.

Related Links

  • DC Vision Zero
    The District is committed to protecting the lives of those traveling on city roads. DC Vision Zero Road Rules represents the city’s goal of reducing traffic fatlities to zero. Traffic deaths are preventable.