Watch this interview of DC Traffic Lawyer K. Lawson Wellington and find out how DUI laws in DC are different from those in Maryland.
K. Lawson Wellington: Bringing Zealous Advocacy to DUI Defense
K. Lawson Wellington is a staple in the D.C. traffic law community. A graduate of Howard University School of Law, he established the Law Office of K. Lawson Wellington in 1996, dedicated to DUI, personal injury, family law, and criminal defense in the District of Columbia and Maryland.
Previously, Wellington was a partner at Williams & Wellington LLP, a general practice law firm in Washington, D.C., where he represented clients in criminal and civil cases. Wellington not only has vast trial experience, but he also advises clients in alternate dispute resolution matters. No matter the case, he is known as a fierce advocate for his clients’ rights.
Did you grow up in the Washington, D.C., area?
I am from Jamaica. I lived in New York for a year and then did undergraduate studies and law school at Howard University.
What led you to practice in the District of Columbia?
[After I] finished at Howard, I got my start working with another Howard Law alum, Anna Williams. I took the Maryland Bar and waived into D.C., effectively gaining admission to both bars with one exam sitting — which was what other practitioners and mentors recommended. You heard during 3L year that was the approach to take.
Traffic law has recently become a hot practice area. As someone who has practiced since the late ’90s, what changes have you seen?
I’d say DUI has become, to use your words, “a hot practice area” over the last decade or so. Previously, it was lumped or categorized as traffic law (and still is for all practical purposes, as the offenses are prosecuted by the same criminal division of the Office of the Attorney General). But [it] has since developed into something of a niche practice area, largely because a DUI arrest or conviction can have a direct negative impact on an individual’s driving privileges — it can lead to both suspension and/or revocation. Drivers trying to avoid this outcome are more inclined to engage legal representation.
How has the Black Lives Matter movement in regard to traffic stops affected your practice?
My first instinct is, it hasn’t. Officers are doing [fewer] arrests. Traffic numbers are down, really down, more so during the COVID pandemic. It is unclear whether that is a direct function of Black Lives Matter protests as [they] relate to deaths of Black males and people of color. Could there be a directive from upper command? I can’t say. I do believe, though, that the pervasive use of body-worn cameras at [Metropolitan Police Department] and nearby Maryland counties has curbed certain bad actors’ behavior and has had a chilling effect on rogue, egregious policing.
What are the most common mistakes that motorists make behind the wheel?
Sleeping in their cars after they consume alcohol or drugs. So many clients say, “but I wasn’t driving,” except that D.C. DUI laws say you cannot be “in physical control” of the vehicle. Many clients end up with a DUI arrest sitting or sleeping behind the wheel with the engine on, maybe using the air conditioner or heat, or simply listening to music or charging their cell phone. Also, many people do not know that they have the absolute right to refuse the standard field sobriety tests.
Would you encourage other attorneys to enter this area of practice? If so, what advice would you give?
Yes, I would. I’d say, first thing, build a website and raise your online profile. It’s marketing and reputation-driven with elements such as Google and the like playing a huge role. Start today!
Why Was I Arrested If I Passed The Field Sobriety Tests?
Most clients tell me I “passed” the field sobriety tests.*** However, most do not know what the officer is looking for nor the nuances of the tests. For example, a client will take ten (10), or more steps, as opposed to the instructed nine (9) in an attempt to convince the officer that he/she is fine. In reality, the officer counts that as a clue of impairment: inability/failure to follow instructions.
The Walk & Turn (W&T) and One-Legged Stand (OLS) tests, in particular, are “divided attention” tests ‘designed’ to ascertain whether or not the subject can execute multiple tasks at the same time. Judges, I’ve found over the years, tend to believe the cop unless there is just so much discrepancy in evidence. Prosecutors argue, credibly enough, that the officer has “no reason to lie” on this individual he or she is meeting for the first time.
What to do? If you submit to the tests then that provides the evidence and forms the basis of the prosecutor’s case against you. If you refuse – obviate the need for speculation and officer vis-a-vis defendant “he said, she said” – the government’s case is harder to prove especially if one ultimately refuses any chemical++ testing also. A refusal to submit to the SFSTs denies the police, and thus the prosecutor, of essential evidence to try to convict you of a DC DUI. Understand also, an officer cannot ‘force’, ‘coerce’, or ‘compel’ you to do these series of field tests. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – the flashlight and pen test – can be particularly damning if admitted as evidence with the officer testifying as an ‘expert’. According to NHSTA, if four (4) of a total six (6) clues are observed in both eyes, there is a ‘scientific’ certainty that the individual is likely 77% at a .10 or above. That is then combined with the Walk and Turn test and the One-Legged Stand to increase that percentage.
*** There are three (3) Standard Field Sobriety Tests. With the HGN test the officer is searching for a particular jerking in the eyes as they move from left to right.
++The District of Columbia will revoke your DC driving privileges if you refuse the breath, urine or chemical testing. However, if you prevail at a trial they will have no recourse but to reinstate those privileges.
Heavy Snowfall In D.C. Creates Blizzard Of Parking Tickets; $180,000 Levied For Cars
“For those who might try to contest the parking tickets, lawyer K. Lawson Wellington said it probably isn’t worth fighting.”
Read the entire Washington Times article.
#dctrafficattorney #dctrafficlawyer #dclawyer #klawsonwellington
What is the essential DUI and Arrests Law in Washington, DC?
Washington, DC DUI & Traffic Lawyer on DC DUI Laws and Arrests
In Washington, DC a DUI arrest gives rise to two different matters: a DUI criminal charge, that is prosecuted in the District of Columbia Superior Court, and an administrative driver’s license matter at the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which can potentially result in your driving privileges being suspended by the DC Department of Motor Vehicles.
The DUI laws in Washington, DC makes it illegal to drive when under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05% or higher. A DUI case can be proven in two (2) ways. A Washington D.C. DUI can be demonstrated through a combination of bad driving, physical appearance and behavior of the driver and standard field sobriety test performances. DUI or OWI cases can also be prosecuted on the theory that the driver violated the law of the District of Columbia per se. This type of Washington DWI law declares it a crime to drive with a blood alcohol level (BAC) above .05%.
Further, if you drive in Washington D.C., you have essentially given an implied consent (DC Implied Consent Law) for a test of your blood, urine or breath for purposes of determining alcohol content if suspected of driving under the influence. This is especially true more so if you have been involved in an accident. This means that in a DC DUI arrest, refusal to submit to chemical testing when lawfully requested by a police officer can result in additional civil punishment – (loss of driving privileges for up to one (1) year). In addition, the refusal to submit to a blood or breath alcohol test following an arrest for DUI or a related drunk driving charge can be introduced at trial by the prosecution to ‘prove’ consciousness of guilt. The judge does not have to necessarily agree with the prosecution since there are other reasons individuals decline chemical testing. However, it is further evidentiary ammunition for the government’s case.
Ultimately, with a DUI arrest in DC, or Maryland for that matter, the trier of facts, likely a judge, would based on all the testimony – the police, yours (should you choose to testify) and possibly other witnesses – regarding the incident, make the final determination of guilt or not.
It is important to contact a Washington, DC DUI defense attorney if you are facing drunk-driving charges in the District of Columbia. A DUI matter can have potential devastating consequences and a skilled DUI defense lawyer can make all the difference. If you, or someone you know, needs legal assistance with this or a similar matter, call and speak to one of our experienced DC DUI trial lawyers today: 202.486.1186.
I was arrested for Prostitution in DC, but I think I was entrapped. What can I do?
DC Prostitution Lawyer | DC Sex Offense Attorney | DC Criminal Defense Lawyer
According to DC law, (Inviting for the Purposes of) Prostitution is to unlawfully invite, entice, persuade, or address for the purpose of inviting, enticing or persuading—individual X; likely an undercover officer—for the purposes of prostitution and immoral or lewd purposes. Loosely translated, and what a government prosecution will try to prove at a trial, one allegedly agreed to a sex act in exchange for money. See my previous blog on this issue also. If you believe an undercover officer manipulated you into agreeing to something you had no intention of doing you might have a defensible case.
Most clients tell us that they were on their way home and were simply stopped or idling at a stoplight when they were approached by an individual/undercover female officer and propositioned. They had no interest in or desire to engage this person until they themselves were approached. This is the crux of the issue and the arguments in Court on a daily basis as to whether it was entrapment or the person was predisposed to the invitation and/or engagement. Ultimately, whether or not there was an ‘agreement’ will determine how the case will turn.
In our experience, with these or similar facts, we typically advise clients to fight the charges at trial. Results vary with a mix of wins, losses, dismissals and positive resolutions before trial.
Typical exchange dialogue in a police arrest report:
UC: Hey Handsome
D1: What’s up?
UC: Nothing. What you want?
UC: Okay it’s $25 for head and $50 to f—.
D1: I have $50.
UC: $50 to f—?
UC: Okay. Cool. Hold on let me tell Babylove I have a date.
If you are someone you know are facing DC Prostitution, Sexual Solicitation and/or similar criminal charges in Washington, DC call us today: 202.486.1186. Have an experienced DC Prostitution or sex offense attorney in our office advise you regarding potential outcomes, consequences or options available to you.
Elements of DC Soliciting Prostitution or DC Sexual Solicitation
It is unlawful for anyone in Washington, D.C. to engage in prostitution or to solicit for prostitution. “Prostitution” means a sexual act or contact with another person in return for giving or receiving a fee. According to this definition, both the person offering the services and the person receiving the services could be convicted of the offense. “Soliciting for prostitution” is defined as inviting, enticing, offering, persuading, or agreeing to engage in prostitution.
The penalty for prostitution is a fine of $500 and/or not more than 90 days imprisonment for the first offense; a fine of $750 and/or up to 135 days imprisonment for a second offense; and a fine of $1000 and/or not more than 180 days for a third and each subsequent offense. The court may “suspend” the sentence (that is, order probation as opposed to incarceration) for a conviction of prostitution. A judge may also order the person to stay away from the particular area in which the offense occurred, submit to medical and mental health treatment or fulfill any other conditions the court may impose. D.C. Criminal Code 22-2701. D.C. Criminal Code 22-2701.1. D.C. Criminal Code 22-2703.
I Was Arrested for DUI in DC. What am I Supposed to do with the “Official Notice of Proposed Suspension”?
You are to report to DC Department of Motor Vehicles and request a (Show Cause) hearing. This hearing must be requested regardless of whether or not you are a DC resident. The purpose of the hearing is to report to DMV the result (outcome) of the DUI arrest and to determine whether there will be any consequences. Again, this applies to both DC residents and individuals who do not reside in Washington, DC.
The DMV location you are to report to is 3220 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.* They are opened from 8:15 to 4:00 PM Tuesday – Saturday and are closed on Mondays. This is the only DC DMV location that deals with this particular issue. You will be scheduled for a future hearing date to appear at 301 C Street, NW. You can also make this request in writing.
It is very important that this request be made because failure to do so can result in your driving privileges being suspended in the District of Columbia. This is irrespective of the result of the actual DUI case in DC Superior Court. Time is also of the essence. If you are a DC resident you must request the hearing within ten (10) days of being served and fifteen (15) days if you are a non-resident. Please read the document carefully. Should you have any questions and/or concerns, please give us a call today: 202.486.1186.
*Recently, DMV is now allowing you to schedule the hearing at the 301 C Street, NW location. This location is operational between the hours of 8:30 and 4:00 PM.
The practice in Maryland is fairly similar. The arresting officer in Maryland; however, will take your driver’s license and issue you with a temporary permit which is valid for forty-five (45) days. You are then required to request within ten (10) days, if your BAC scores are above .15, a hearing from the Motor Vehicles Administration to address the DUI arrest and maintaining your driving privileges. Generally, you have thirty (30) days within which to make the request.
Must the DMV Staff Appear in Court to Prove an OAS Charge?
I was convicted twice of DC Operating after Suspension, does the prosecutor still need the Department of Motor Vehicle’s personnel in court to prove its case?
Yes. The government must be required to bring in a DC Department of Motor Vehicles personnel to show proof of service of any notice, by naming the person on whom the notice or order was served and specifying the time, place, and manner of service for this particular OAS — see Chapter 18 of DCMR Section 307.7.
The fact that client had been convicted previously of OAS does not excuse the government from complying with the requirement of the Regulation to prove this OAS allegation client is now litigating; note that sometimes folks get suspended, convicted and then get reinstated and then get suspended again.
The cookie sometimes crumbles for the government if DMV personnel fails to specify the time, the place or the manner of service. In Santos v. D.C. Court of Appeals, the court ruled that a driver?s license cannot be suspended or revoked without due process, including both fair notice of a traffic violation charge and the potential penalties, and the right to a hearing. Say, for example, the claim is that notice was sent to client, did DMV know he was in jail at the time notice was sent to his “last known address?” Was it a “fair notice” to have sent the notice to other than the jail where he was known to have been residing?
See: Rachel E. Loftus v. District of Columbia, 51 A.3d 1285 (D.C. 09/13/2012) and Santos v. District of Columbia, 940 A.2d 113 (D.C. 2007) for more relevant, if not exactly on point, case law.
Visit DC Traffic Lawyer on Facebook
Under DC DUI laws a person cannot sit behind the wheels of a motor vehicle with the keys in the ignition – or in his/her pockets for that matter – if that person had been drinking. That is technically “operation” hence the charge can be OWI as distinguished from DUI (Driving under the Influence). In other words, one can be charged with drunk-driving in DC without moving the car one (1) inch.
It is important to contact a Washington, D.C. DUI defense attorney if you are facing drunk-driving or similar charges in the District of Columbia. A DUI matter can have potential devastating consequences and a skilled DUI defense lawyer can make all the difference. If you, or someone you know, needs legal assistance with this or a similar matter, call and speak to one of our experienced DC DUI trial lawyers today: 202.486.1186.