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Drunk driving laws get stricter in Washington, D.C.

People in Baltimore and throughout other parts of Maryland will routinely have reason to travel into Washington, D.C. It's important, therefore, for residents in the nearby areas to understand the drunk driving laws of where they may be driving.

Last week, DUI laws in the capitol changed, putting drunk driving suspects in the area at risk of more severe sentencing if they are convicted of driving under the influence. These changes all go into effect despite the fact that law enforcement in the area aren't using breath tests.

The following are the new DUI law changes:

  • Commercial drivers have a new blood-alcohol limit of 0.04 percent.
  • Repeat offenders and first-time DUI offenders with BAC levels of 0.20 percent or higher now will face sentencing of at least 10 days in jail instead of five.
  • Those convicted of DUI with BAC levels of 0.25 percent or higher will serve a sentence of at least 10 to 15 days in jail.
  • Those convicted of DUI with BAC levels of 0.30 percent or higher will be sentenced to at least 20 days in jail.
  • First time DUI offenders can be sentenced to the new maximum of 180 days in jail instead of 90.
  • First time DUI offenders can be fined as much as $1,000 instead of $300.

It might seem surprising that the laws would change and become harsher when there has been recent controversy regarding DUI arrests and convictions in Washington, D.C. There were proven problems with the breathalyzer tests used to support many arrests and convictions. As a result, law enforcement hasn't been able to rely on those tests. Rather, they've been using and will continue to use blood and urine tests in drunk driving cases until a new breath test proves to be accurate.

Source: Associated Press, "DC to impose tougher penalties for drunken driving, but breath-testing program still suspended," July 31, 2012

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