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Prosecution of DC DUI Charges

Washington, DC has two different prosecutor offices that prosecute criminal offenses in the city. Even though DC is not a state, not all offenses are considered to be federal crimes. DC has its own laws that are prosecuted in the local DC Superior Court. However, there are two separate prosecutor offices that handle different kinds of crimes.

Most of the criminal offenses in DC are prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office which is a division of the federal United States Attorney’s Office; it only prosecutes local DC offenses. They handle offenses involving drugs, guns, assaults, murders, robberies, and other crimes.

Criminal traffic offenses like driving under the influence, hit and run, and other lower level criminal offenses are prosecuted by the DC Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office prosecutes DUI offenses committed in Washington, DC and they pursue them severely. They are not simply treated as a traffic infraction that can be resolved by payment of a small fine. If you have been charged with such a crime and are looking to reduce any potential penalties associated with your charge, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

How DUI Cases Are Prosecuted

DUI criminal charges are treated incredibly severely in DC. They carry a possible maximum 180 days of jail time on a first offense. Some first offenses for people with high levels of intoxication may be eligible for mandatory periods of jail time that a judge cannot suspend or reduce. As a result, the Attorney General’s Office treats driving under the influence cases seriously for a number of reasons.

There may be political reason, because there are strong feelings about driving under the influence and the threat it poses to public safety. The DC City Council, legislature, and local prosecutors have taken an aggressive stand to make sure these offenses are prosecuted severely.

Not only do they ensure that these offenses are prosecuted heavily, they are also limited in negotiating resolutions that are favorable to people. Many people are arrested and charged with driving under the influence and the prosecutors move forward on these charges to secure as many convictions as possible.

Importance of Legal Representation

Due to the severity of a DUI charge in DC, it is important for people facing such a charge to have proper representation from lawyers who understand these kinds of cases. The attorney should have experience handling DUI charges in DC, know the system well, and understand the way the prosecutors and judges approach driving under the influence cases.

All of those factors can contribute to aggressive enforcement by the relevant government bodies.

The first and most important thing a DUI lawyer can do for their client is defend their rights. Every person has constitutional rights to be presented with the evidence against them, be defended in court, take their case to a trial, and confront the officers or anyone else against them. They have a constitutional right to a fair and open proceeding. The most important thing a lawyer can do to combat the severity of a DC DUI charge is to make sure that those rights are defended and ensure their client receives a fair proceeding.

Challenging the Prosecution

A DUI lawyer can challenge the accuracy or the admissibility of any evidence when preparing for proceedings and possible defenses against the prosecution of a DC DUI charge.

That includes challenging the accuracy of police officer recollections or statements, challenging the legal or constitutional basis for the person’s arrest, and challenging any searches or questioning the police officer engages in while conducting their investigation.

Further, it can include ensuring that the prosecutors provide the evidence necessary to prove any breath, blood, or urine alcohol content levels that supposedly prove a person’s intoxication.

The tests have documentation and scientific evidence that must be provided to the defense team that ensures their reliability and their accuracy. It is the role of a DUI defense lawyer to make sure that the prosecutor preserves and turns over any evidence that backs up their allegations and their alcohol tests.

Negotiating a Resolution

The most important quality for a DUI lawyer to possess is the ability to negotiate a favorable resolution with prosecutors at the beginning of every DUI case rather than settling the case or proceeding to trial for the finding of a guilty or not guilty verdict by a judge.

Defense attorneys want to approach the prosecutors with the possibility of resolving a case in a favorable way. That includes negotiations to minimize any jail time a person may face. In some DUI cases, people face a possibility of jail time but in other cases, negotiations could result in the complete dismissal of DUI charges.

One thing that is different from many other states with a DUI is that in DC, the judges have little control over how these cases proceed from the beginning. In some states, judges can reduce or dismiss charges, or play a role in plea negotiations. That does not happen in the District through the judge, and it only happens between defense attorneys and prosecutors. It is the responsibility of the defense attorney to aggressively pursue negotiations to see if there are any options short of a trial that can get their client a good result while at the same time minimizes any risks they may face. The attorney works diligently to decrease the impact that a DUI arrest may have on their client’s permanent criminal record.

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