No Traffic Death is Acceptable.

Impaired Driving

In 2011, 9,878 people were killed nationally in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. That breaks down to one every 53 minutes – accounting for 31 percent of the total motor vehicle fatalities in the nation. Among the fatalities in 2011, alcohol impairment was four times higher at night than during the day. Sixteen percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-impaired, compared to 31 percent on weekends.

Clearly, impaired driving is one of the biggest threats to our roadways and cause of crashes, injuries and fatalities. The District of Columbia's laws for impaired driving are clear, police officers are enforcing them, and prosecutors are seeking jail time. The laws are summarized below:

  1. The government may establish that a defendant was driving impaired in two different ways. The government may prove that the defendant was operating a vehicle:
    • While his or her Breath or Blood Alcohol Content (BrAC/BAC) was .08 or above or Urine Alcohol Content (UAC) was .10 or higher; or
    • After he or she had consumed alcohol and/or used a drug and that his or her mental or physical faculties were affected in a way that could be perceived or noticed.
  2. Under Age Drinking - Persons under 21 cannot purchase, consume, or possess any alcoholic beverages of any kind. If they are found to be operating a motor vehicle after having consumed any measurable amount of alcohol, they will be placed under arrest and charged with Impaired Driving.

If you're arrested and convicted for an impaired driving offense, penalties include:



Jail Term


First Impaired Driving Offense


Up to 180 days

6 months revocation

Second Impaired Driving Offense

$2,500 - $5,000

Up to 1 year, including at least a 10-day mandatory minimum sentence

1 year revocation

Third Impaired Driving Offense

$2,500 - $10,000

Up to 1 year, including at least a 15-day mandatory minimum sentence

2 year revocation

Fourth Impaired Driving Offense

$2,500 - $10,000

Up to 1 year, including at least a 45-day mandatory minimum sentence


Adults/Parents who aid minors in obtaining alcohol



Up to 90 days revocation

***You may be sentenced to mandatory minimum jail terms – in addition to what is listed above - for operating:

  • A vehicle with Breath, Blood, or Urine Alcohol Content (BrAC/BAC/UAC) levels above prescribed amounts;
  • A vehicle with a Schedule 1 drug, PCP, Cocaine, Methadone, Morphine, or active metabolite/analog in your blood or urine.
  • A vehicle occupied by children;
  • A commercial vehicle, including a taxi.

There is a link to the MPD website, below, that gives a more complete list of penalties for Drinking and Driving.

DC participates in the regional Checkpoint Strikeforce anti-impaired driving public awareness campaign. Checkpoint Strikeforce combines high visibility sobriety checkpoints and paid advertising to create awareness of enforcement and educate the public about the dangers and consequences of impaired driving.

To find out more: