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Asiento asignado por el Registro Nacional de Asociaciones Español: Grupo 1º, Sección 1ª, Numero 600121 - NIF: G76556646 ...

District of Columbia Drugged Driving

In the District of Columbia, a person is guilty of a DUI if he or she operates any vehicle while under the influence of any drug. D.C. Code § 50-2201.05(b)(1)(A)(i)(II) (2010).

Implied Consent

  • Any person who operates a motor vehicle within the District shall be deemed to have given his or her consent to 2 chemical tests of the person's blood, urine, or breath, for the purpose of determining blood-alcohol content or blood-drug content. Id. § 50-1902(a)-(b).

  • If a person under arrest refuses to submit to chemical testing, the officer must inform the driver that their license will be revoked for one year if they do not submit to chemical testing. If after have been informed, the driver still refuses, no test shall be given, and the officer shall immediately revoke the driver's license. Id. § 50-1905.

  • Evidence of such refusal shall be admissible in any related civil or criminal proceedings. Id. § 50-1905, 1906.

  • Refusal of motorist arrested for DUI to take chemical test was evidence from which a judge could infer a consciousness of guilt. Karamychev v. District of Columbia, 772 A.2d 806 (2001).

  • Police refusal to let defendant consult with legal counsel before deciding whether to take chemical tests did not violate his rights. District of Columbia v. Lynn, 111 WLR 2149 (Super. Ct. 1983).

  • The person tested may, in addition to submitting to the 2 tests administered at the direction of a police officer, also submit to chemical test(s) administered to him by a qualified person of his own choosing. The failure or inability to obtain an additional test by a person shall not preclude the admission of the tests taken at the direction of a police officer. D.C. Code § 50-1903 (2010).

  • Protections do not apply if the driver is involved in a motor vehicle accident. Id. § 50-1906.


  • First offense - fine of $300; possible imprisonment for not more than 90 days. Id. § 50-2201.05 (b)(1)(A)(ii).

  • Second offense (w/i 15 years) - fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000; imprisonment for not more than one year and not less than a mandatory-minimum of 5 days; the court may impose a sentence of at least 30 days of community service; one year license suspension. Id. § 50-2201.05 (b)(1)(B)(i), (iii).

  • Third and subsequent offense(w/i 15 years) - fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000; imprisonment for not more than one year, but not less than a mandatory-minimum of 10 days; offender may be required to perform at least 60 days of community service; two year license suspension. Id. § 50-2201.05 (b)(1)(C)(i), (iii).

Other Penalties & Penalty Enhancers

  • DUI while transporting a person 17 years of age or younger shall carry an additional minimum fine of $500 and not more than $1000 and 48 hours of community service benefiting children for the first such offense and 80 hours of community service for a subsequent such offense. Id. § 50-2201.05 (b)(1)(D).

Sobriety Checkpoints

The District of Columbia allows law enforcement officials to conduct roadblocks under the Federal Constitution.

  • Police roadblock was sufficiently productive of Government's interests in checking for expected problems of motorists operating without permits, operating after revocation and operating with impaired mobility to drive to satisfy roadblock requirement that there be more than complete absence of data indicating effectiveness; arrests occurred involving approximately 2.4% of stopped vehicles. Galberth v. U.S.,590 A.2d 990(D.C.,1991).

  • Although the principal purpose of a checkpoint is to check license and registration, the fact that the effort has an added benefit of deterring drunk driving and/or drug trafficking does not make it invalid. Duncan v. U.S., 629 A.2d 1 (D.C. App. 1993).

Case Law

Thomas v. District of Columbia, 942 A.2d 645 (2008) -- A person is guilty of driving under the influence of a marijuana if he or she is impaired to the slightest degree, either mentally or physically or both, and unable to use the clear judgment and/or coordination necessary to handle an automobile. Defendant had bloodshot eyes, was sweating, and failed sobriety tests. Officers also noted that there was a piece of paper that looked like a smoked joint in defendant's car. Defendant refused to submit to urinalysis testing, and was convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana, notwithstanding the lack of chemical evidence.

Staten v. U.S., 562 A.2d 90 (1989) – After a lawful stop for an illegal U-turn and subsequent arrest for DUI, police officers were entitled to search the interior of the automobile, including locked glove compartment.

Karamychev v. District of Columbia, 772 A.2d 806 (2001) -- Refusal of motorist arrested for DUI to take chemical test was evidence from which a judge could infer a consciousness of guilt.

District of Columbia v. Sellers, 117 WLR 1017 (1989) – The offense of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a drug requires a causal relationship between the presence of a drug in a person's body and the manner in which the person is operating a motor vehicle at the time of the traffic offense.

District of Columbia Medical Marijuana

SUMMARY: D.C. Council Members enacted legislation in May 2010 authorizing the establishment of regulated medical marijuana dispensaries in the District of Columbia. On Monday, July 26, members of Congress allowed the measure to become law without federal interference.

The law amends the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative, a 1998 municipal ballot measure which garnered 69 percent of the vote yet was never implemented. Until 2010, D.C. city lawmakers had been barred from instituting the measure because of a Congressional ban on the issue. Congress finally lifted the ban in 2009.

Under the law, D.C. Health Department officials will oversee the creation of as many as eight facilities to dispense medical cannabis to authorized patients. Medical dispensaries would be limited to growing no more than 95 plants on site at any one time.

Both non-profit and for-profit organizations will be eligible to operate the dispensaries.

Qualifying D.C. patients will be able to obtain medical cannabis at these facilities, but will not be permitted under the law to grow their own medicine. Patients diagnosed with the following illnesses are afforded legal protection under this act: HIV or AIDS; glaucoma; conditions characterized by severe and persistent muscle spasms, such as multiple sclerosis; cancer; or any other condition, as determined by rulemaking, that is: "(i) chronic or long-lasting; "(ii) debilitating or interferes with the basic functions of life; and (iii) A serious medical condition for which the use of medical marijuana is beneficial: (I) That cannot be effectively treated by any ordinary medical or surgical measure; "(II) For which there is scientific evidence that the use of medical marijuana is likely to be significantly less addictive than the ordinary medical treatment for that condition. The maximum amount of medical marijuana that any qualifying patient may possess at any moment is 2 ounces of dried medical marijuana, though this limit is subject to revision by the Mayor.

A separate provision enacted as part of the 2011 D.C. budget calls for the retail sales of medical cannabis to be subject to the District’s six percent sales tax rate. Low-income will be allowed to purchase medical marijuana at a greatly reduced cost under the plan.

It will likely be several months before Health officials establish a patient registry and/or begin accepting applications from the public to operate the City’s medical marijuana production and distribution centers.

The medical use provisions in the District of Columbia do not include reciprocity provisions protecting visitors from other medical use states.

CAREGIVERS: Yes. Caregiver is a person designated by a qualifying patient as the person authorized to possess, obtain from a dispensary, dispense, and assist in the administration of medical marijuana. The caregiver must be 18 years of age or older. The caregiver must be registered with the Department as the qualifying patient's caregiver. A caregiver may only serve one qualifying patient at a time. D.C. Act 13-138 §2 (3) (2010).

CONTACT INFORMATION: DC City Council Committee on Health or DC Department of Health

District of Columbia Penalties




Any amount


6 months


Eligible for probation with first conviction, dismissal of charges upon completion.

Sale or Cultivation

Any amount


5 years


Within 1000 feet of school or other specified area


double penalty

double penalty

Sale to minor


double penalty

double penalty

Miscellaneous (paraphernalia, license suspensions, drug tax stamps, etc...)

Paraphernalia possession


30 days


Paraphernalia sale


6 months


Paraphernalia sale to a minor


8 years


Any conviction can result in suspension of driver's license, 6 months - 2 years.




Possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. First time offenders are eligible for probation and dismissal of the charges upon successful completion of the probation contract.

The cultivation, sale or delivery of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. If the distribution occurs within 1000 feet of a school, pool, playground, arcade, library, youth center, or public housing or if the distribution is made to a minor the penalties can be doubled.

Upon conviction of a drug offense, the offender's driver's license can be suspended from six months to two years.

The possession of paraphernalia is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $100 fine. The sale of paraphernalia is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 unless the sale is made to a minor, in which case the penalty increases to a possible eight years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.



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