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Common Misconceptions Regarding Breathalyzers in DC

The most common misconception about breathalyzer tests in DC is that there is a clear-cut rule as to whether it is a good idea or to a person’s advantage to take or refuse a breath test. A lot of people are under the impression that it is never a good idea to take a breath test. However, the truth is there is no rule that applies in every situation as to whether a person should or should not submit to a breath test.

If you are facing legal trouble following a situation involving a breathalyzer test, it is important to contact an attorney immediately to explore your options.

Potential Consequences

The most important thing for a person to know is that there can be both consequences for refusing to submit a breath test and consequences for agreeing to submit to a breath test. This depends on a person’s individual situation as to whether or not they should provide a breath sample.

There are many common misconceptions regarding breathalyzers in DC, which an individual should be fully aware of before they are in a situation where this knowledge is necessary.

Penalties of Refusal

It is most important for people to understand that if they refuse to submit to a breath test, there are two main consequences they face.  The first is that they may be ineligible for certain more favorable negotiated resolutions that could result in their DUI case being dismissed after they have been charged with driving under the influence.

The other most common consequence for refusing to give a breath sample is that the license revocation period for a first offense DUI increases from six months up to one year. That one-year license revocation can apply even if the person is acquitted of their DUI charge because the refusal carries a one-year license revocation period.

Submitting to a Test

That does not mean that it is always a good idea to give a breath sample. There are certain situations in which a person may want to decide against it. A person should consider that if they provide a breath sample and their blood alcohol content comes back as 0.20 or higher, that person would be eligible for a mandatory minimum amount of jail time which the judge would not have the ability to suspend.

Mandatory jail time means that the judge would be required under DC law to give even a first offense DUI a minimum of 10 days of jail time if their blood alcohol content comes back as 0.20 or higher. However, a person who refuses to give a breath sample on a first offense DUI would not face any mandatory jail time as a result of their refusal.

A person with previous DUIs on their record, either in DC or any other state, could also face mandatory jail time for that situation, and there are certain other situations that could result in a person facing time in jail.

Severity of the Charge

One common misconception about DUI cases in DC is that they are minor traffic matters that can be resolved with a simple payment of a fine in exchange for the case being dismissed or dropped down to a traffic violation. That is not the case. In DC, DUIs are criminal matters and are treated like any other criminal case in the District of Columbia.

That means that people may face jail time, probationary periods, and permanent criminal records for driving under the influence. One of the most common misconceptions when facing first offense DUIs is that these matters are easily resolved by prosecutors and no one takes criminal records for DUIs. That is not true. It is especially not true that first offense DUIs do not face any serious consequences.

In some situations, a first offense DUI can result in a person being required to serve jail time, even if that person has never been in trouble in their life. In situations where a person gives a breath sample and their blood alcohol content turns out to be 0.20 or higher, that person would be eligible for a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail and the judge would not have the discretion to reduce it, replace it with community service, or change it to home confinement.

Prosecutors over the years have been getting stricter with how they are dealing with DUIs, and that is a combination of more strict prosecution as well as DC legislators creating harsher legislative penalties. A person should not be apathetic when dealing with a driving under the influence case, even if they have no prior criminal record.

Benefits of an Attorney

A person should be aware of the consequences that they could face by both refusing to give a breath sample and the consequences they could face by giving a breath sample so that they can make a decision based on their specific situation. However, if a situation involving a breathalyzer has led to legal trouble, an experienced attorney can assist in lessening or dismissing any potential penalties.

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