Following a DUI arrest in DC, local law enforcement will take you to one of either two places: the main district headquarters or a substation. Where you are taken sometimes depends on whether or not the police want to hold you while they wait for a judge’s decision to release you. A Washington, DC DUI lawyer can speak about what happens once someone has been arrested for driving under the influence. Call today and schedule a free initial consultation for more information.
When you are arrested by the police for DUI or any other offense, you are initially taken to the precinct—the police station. It just depends on where in the city the arrest occurred. There are seven different districts, and you will be taken to either the main district headquarters or a substation and processed there. During booking and processing, the DUI suspect will have their fingerprints and picture taken and would be asked to submit a breath or urine sample for testing. This process generally takes about three hours. If you are going to be released—in other words, if the police are just going to release you with a citation telling you to come back to court in a few weeks rather than waiting to see if a judge will release you—then you’ll be released from that police station.
In most first offender DUI cases in which a person is not facing any other pending charges, that person would typically be released directly from the police station with a citation to appear for his or her arraignment date three weeks later.
In Washington DC, a person is not asked to post a bond or pay bail in exchange for being released on citation. Rather, a person facing a misdemeanor case, such as DUI, who does not have any other pending criminal matters is usually automatically released on his or her personal promise to appear for the assigned arraignment date. This date would be designated on the citation to appear in court given to the suspect upon release from the police station.
If the police decide that they’re going to hold you in custody pending a judge’s determination of whether to release you or hold you, then the police will transport you to the central cell block at the police headquarters, which is at 300 Indiana Avenue Northwest in DC. They take defendants there because it’s right next door to the courthouse. The DC Superior Court is located at 500 Indiana Avenue Northwest. If you are arrested on Tuesday and held in custody, you can expect to go to court the following Wednesday afternoon. The police will transport you to the central cell block, where you’ll be held overnight, and then you’ll be transferred to the U.S. Marshals, who handle detention officer duty for the court. Then the U.S. Marshals will transport you next door to the courthouse. That is the line of custody if someone is held rather than being immediately released from the police station.
The central cell block, sometimes referred to as central booking, is where a person will be held temporarily pending going to court. DC is a unique jurisdiction in that it doesn’t have a sheriff’s department because it’s not a state. In most other jurisdictions, defendants who are in custody at the superior court or state court level will typically be handled by the sheriff’s department. Whatever law enforcement agency makes the initial arrest and decides to hold the person will transfer him or her over to the custody of the sheriff’s department’s detention officers.
In DC, if a defendant is not going to be released from the police station pending a hearing before a judge, he or she will be taken to the central cell block, where he or she will stay until going to court. When it’s time to go to court, the defendant is transferred to the U.S. Marshals—federal officers who act as the detention officers for the DC Superior Court. The U.S. Marshals have their own facility in the basement of the courthouse with numerous cells where they keep defendants who are waiting to appear before a judge in the courthouse that day.
The central cell block is where someone who has just been arrested waits to go to court. DC jail, on the other hand, is where someone is held in custody per the order of a judge. That means that the judge has ordered the person to remain in custody pending the outcome of a case or that someone has been sentenced to serve jail time as punishment after a conviction. Someone typically remains in the central cell block for no more than a day or two. At DC jail, on the other hand, people could be serving sentences of up to a year in jail or could be remaining in custody while awaiting trial or the resolution of a case.
The maximum penalty for a first-offense DUI in the District of Columbia is 180 days in jail, although it would be highly unusual for someone to be sentenced to that length of jail time on a first offense. Nonetheless, jail is a distinct possibility in many DUI cases, even first offenses, because certain circumstances trigger mandatory jail. While there is no felony DUI in DC, there are certain circumstances in which an individual will be required to serve a mandatory jail sentence for a DUI.
Aside from the mandatory jail sentence, a judge has discretion to sentence someone to jail based on the facts of the case, the circumstances in which the offense occurred and the criminal history of the defendant.
For a first-time DUI, the maximum penalty is 180 days. For a second or subsequent DUI, the maximum penalty is a year in jail. Even if there is no mandatory jail required for the case, the facts, circumstances and defendant’s criminal history could be such that the judge determines that a jail sentence is an appropriate punishment in that case.
A mandatory minimum is a jail sentence imposed in the DUI statutes requiring the court to sentence defendants to at least a particular amount of jail, depending upon the circumstances. If it’s a second or further offense, a jail sentence is mandatory which is also going to be the case if the person’s blood alcohol content was above a certain level, if there were children in the car or if there were drugs involved. If someone is convicted under circumstances in which a mandatory minimum applies, the judge has to sentence you to at least that much jail time.
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