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Washington D.C. Creates Harsher Penalties For DUI Offenders

In Washington D.C., harsher penalties for drunk driving will take effect on Wednesday. The city has doubled the amount of minimum jail sentences for drivers who have blood-alcohol levels of .20 or higher. Professional drivers, such as taxi and limo drivers, must maintain a blood-alcohol limit of .04.

More than a year ago, breathalyzer tests on suspected DUI cases were suspended in Washington, D.C. There is no new time-frame for when the breathalyzer tests will go into effect again, even with the new law. When police discovered the breathalyzer tests were producing inaccurate results last February, they stopped using the devices and began using blood and urine tests to prove DUI cases.

Many lawsuits were filed because of inaccurate breathalyzer tests. The Attorney General’s office this week said all of the lawsuits were now settled. Because of the settlements, police and the Attorney General’s office are ready to re-institute the breathalyzer tests as soon as possible.

The new breathalyzer tests will have improved software, which will require police to compete training on how to use the new, more accurate machines.

The new law that will be instituted Wednesday requires a minimum jail term of 10 days for repeat DUI offenders. This requirement is double the old minimum of 5 days. First-time offenders with a blood alcohol level of .20 will receive the 10 day minimum sentence also. For offenders with .25 blood alcohol level, the penalty is 15 days and the penalty is 20 days for anyone at .30 percent or higher.

The maximum penalty for first time offenders is 180 days in jail and $1000. Previously, the maximum penalty for first time offenders was $300 fine and 90 days in jail.

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