DUI Insurance Laws in Washington, DC

Drunk driving in DC is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines, 90 days in jail, and a six-month license suspension. One DUI conviction can increase your car insurance rates by 41%.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 25, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Washington, DC has strict limits on alcohol consumption
  • State legislation has strict penalties for young people charged with DUI
  • Drivers can be arrested based on a DUI complaint, even if the driver has a BAC score lower than .08
  • Every 30 minutes, someone dies in a DUI traffic fatality
  • In DC, the DUI insurance law requires an SR22 filing before the convicted person can receive a new license

More than any other city in the nation, Washington, DC is regarded as a popular place to live, due to the large number of historic attractions, educational opportunities, and affluent job possibilities. Washington, DC presents some desirable lifestyle choices that include both recreation and work.

DC is centrally located within a reasonable driving distance of the great Metropolitan cities of Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Arlington, Gettysburg and New York. Although public transportation is available, most DC people prefer to drive their personal vehicles to visit these locations.

Thus, all throughout Washington, DC, there are strict limits on alcohol consumption. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.8 percent or higher.

It’s important to know the laws and regulations that are associated with our nation’s capital, as they can directly affect your rates on car insurance in Washinton, DC.

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Alcohol Use in Washington, DC

There are penalties for the parents and the person or persons responsible for allowing anyone underage to drink and drive.

Many of the vehicles on the road in Washington, DC have younger drivers behind the wheel. There have been a surprising number of accidents involving alcohol consumption by minors.

Underage drinking and driving is not tolerated in Washington, DC. In fact, state legislation has upheld stiffer penalties for young people charged with DUI.

The laws are tough because DC has enacted strict “zero tolerance” laws to deal with underage drinking. For underage drivers, it is illegal to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.4 percent or higher.

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Washington, DC DUI Penalties

  • Drinking and Driving – Fine: $300; License suspension: six months
  • Illegal purchase, consumption, or possession of alcohol – Fine: $100-$300; License suspension: 90 days
  • Possession of a fake ID or altered driver’s license – Fine: $100-$300; License suspension: 90 days
  • Parents or Adults who aid a minor in obtaining/purchasing alcohol – Fine: $300; License suspension: 90 days

According to Washington, DC law, it’s legal for law enforcement officers to arrest any driver they think is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Washington, DC law, allows police officers to arrest drivers for being under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated: if they notice anything such as the smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath, open beer bottles or cans strewn on the floor of the vehicle, including the passenger/passenger side.

Washington, DC DUI insurance laws stipulate that all drivers of motor vehicles on public roads are required to submit to any sobriety tests as deemed necessary to determine their level of intoxication or state of impairment.

The legal requirement is called the Implied Consent Law, and it mandates that any driver stopped for suspicion of operating a motor vehicle under the influence must automatically consent to the blood alcohol concentration tests.

Washington, DC DUI Conviction

In Washington, DC, drivers can be arrested based on a DUI complaint, even if the driver has a BAC score lower than .08.

An officer is not required to administer a blood alcohol test to make an arrest. An arrest may also be made in cases where the driver refuses to submit to a urine test, breathalyzer, or BAC test.

First-time offenders who refuse to submit to chemical testing of breath, blood, and urine are ineligible to participate in any type of Washington, DC first-time offender programs.

In Washington, DC, first-time DUI offenders who submit to the tests are eligible to have the charge expunged from their criminal record upon completion of a state-approved program.

Following the refusal to submit to BAC testing, the law enforcement officer is required to immediately confiscate the person’s driver license.

And after an administrative process which includes release from jail for the DUI, the person has five days to appeal the decision.

Upon the fifth day, the one-year license revocation takes effect. It’s during the administrative process that it will be determined if the law enforcement officer had reasonable legal grounds to arrest the driver and apprehend the driver’s license.

Law enforcement officers are required to have justifiable reasons to pull a driver over for some observed, unusual behavior.

It doesn’t have to be “suspect” illegal behavior; what qualifies as unusual varies. Police officers observe such things as California stops (a rolling stop), defective equipment, driving erratically, or a vehicle that’s going excessively slow while the driver constantly taps the brakes.

Other than DUI roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints, it’s illegal to detain or pull a driver over without reasonable cause. Penalties for Washington, DC DUI conviction, could include a fine, jail time, and driver’s license suspension and probation.

Washington, DC DUI Conviction Categories

  • 1st Offense – Fine ($300-$1,000), Jail (0-90 days), License (six-months revocation)
  • 2nd Offense – Fine ($1,000-$5,000), Jail (up to 365 days), License (one-year revocation)
  • 3rd Offense – Fine ($2,000-$10,000), Jail (up to 365 days), License (two-year revocation)

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Washington, DC DUI Statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a drop in traffic fatalities due to special drunk driving statutes and strictly enforcing speed limits.

Every 30 minutes, someone dies in a DUI traffic fatality.

In 28 percent of the traffic-related DUI fatalities, the driver responsible for the accident had a BAC of 0.8% or higher.

Every 20 minutes, someone suffers non-life threatening bodily injury in a DUI accident.

In Washington, DC, being arrested for a DUI makes it difficult to maintain employment. With a DUI conviction, it becomes nearly impossible to qualify for any government job that requires a security clearance and background check before being hired.

In addition to having a criminal record, a suspended driver’s license makes it harder to get car insurance after the suspension is over.

Washington, DC SR22 Requirements for DUI Offenders

A DUI conviction that results in a driver’s license suspension or revocation is not automatically reinstated after the suspension period has ended. The driver is considered to be a high risk for future accidents.

In Washington, DC, the DUI insurance law requires an SR22 filing before the convicted person can receive a new license.

The law requires that the SR22 insurance is maintained without lapses for a maximum period of three years.

There are three types of SR22 insurance filings for Washington, DC DUI Offenders:

  • SR22 Operators Certificate – insurance coverage for any driver convicted of a DUI to legally operate a motor vehicle that they don’t own but have permission to drive
  • SR22 Owners Certificate – insurance coverage for the driver convicted of a DUI offense who owns a motor vehicle; certificate must contain specific information about the year, make, and model of the vehicle
  • SR22 Operators-Owners Certificate – covers all motor vehicles that the convicted driver has access to, either as the operator or as the owner

Washington, DC DUI Insurance Minimums

The SR22 form is needed to ensure that the minimum liability amounts are met. In Washington, DC, the insurance company files the SR22 with the DMV.

The insured person must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury and/or death for a car accident per person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury and/or death for a car accident involving multiple persons
  • $10,000 in property damage
  • $5,000 for underinsured/uninsured motorists’ property damage

When a person is convicted of driving under the influence in Washington, DC, the law requires an SR22 filing fee once the suspension expires because the car insurance companies have to assume the financial responsibility of providing insurance coverage for a high-risk driver.

SR22 car insurance rates can be expensive because there’s additional administrative paperwork surrounding the filing of SR22 forms. However, it’s possible to save money by shopping around.

To find out which insurance company offers the best car insurance rates for Washington, DC SR22 coverage, request FREE quotes from multiple insurance companies with our ZIP code search.

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