Published on 5/16/2023, 2:42:00 PM
How to Beat a DUI in Maryland
In the state of Maryland, DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charges are taken very seriously, posing potential threats to your criminal record and your future. Understanding these charges, and the possible consequences, is the first step to a successful defense.
Different DUI Charges
DUI charges in Maryland can be categorized mainly into DUI (Driving under the Influence), DUI Per Se and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). The specific charge depends on the level of impairment that a driver displays as a result of alcohol. Understanding these different DUI charges is crucial for your defense.
Understanding Your Charges
If you are a Maryland license driver charged with a DUI, you will receive two documents: a traffic citation and a DR-15A suspension and temporary license. These documents contain vital information about your charges and penalties.
A traffic citation informs you about the traffic violation you've committed. It also carries details about your court appearance. Getting a traffic citation doesn't necessarily mean you are guilty; it merely alleges that you violated certain traffic laws. These traffic citations make up the criminal court portion of any drunk driving case.
You may also receive payable traffic citations with your drunk driving charges. Don't pay these in advance of Court - as it is likely they will resolve with your other charges.
A DR-15A suspension noticed pertains to the administrative penalties that may be imposed on your driving privileges. This document is critical as it provides a limited timeframe to request a hearing and possibly save your driving privileges. Winning at this hearing is a key part of beating any DUI case.
Beating the DUI/DWI Case
Beating a DUI case in Maryland is possible, and it starts with challenging the stop and the subsequent arrest.
Challenging the Stop
Police officers require a valid reason to stop you. If you suspect an infringement of your 4th amendment rights, you can challenge the legality of the stop.
The 4th Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. If the stop was not legal, any evidence obtained from it may be suppressed in court.
There are countless reasons to stop a motor vehicle in Maryland; however, there are limitations on Police Officer's ability to do so legally.
4th Amendment DUI stop Challenges
In Maryland, a common challenge to a DUI stop is that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to make the stop. There are two major sources of legal basis for motor vehicle stops in Maryland, Moving violations and Equipment Issues.
However, if an officer stopped you without a valid reason, your 4th amendment rights might have been violated. If successful, a 4th Amendment challenge can result in the dismissal of evidence or even the entire case.
Challenging the Arrest
After the stop, the arrest itself can be challenged. In Maryland, a DUI arrest usually follows a sequence of field sobriety tests, and the officer's interpretation of these tests can be called into question. An arresting officer must have probable cause to believe that you're breaking Maryland's drunk driving laws.
This standard is below the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard for guilt or innocence; however, it still must be supported by facts in evidence during a trial.
An [officer's opinion about your impairment]( here.
can significantly impact your case. Officers are trained to look for specific signs of impairment, but these observations are subjective and can be challenged in court.
For instance, if an officer claims you had slurred speech or bloodshot eyes, a skilled DUI lawyer can argue alternate explanations for these observations.
Challenging the Officer's interpretation of the SFSTs
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are a sequence of physical and cognitive tests used by law enforcement to determine if a driver is impaired.
These include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test. While these tests are standardized, they are not infallible and are subject to human error and interpretation.
A seasoned Maryland DUI lawyer can challenge the officer's interpretation of the results.
Factual defenses are another crucial aspect of fighting a DUI charge in Maryland. These defenses challenge the facts of the case presented by the prosecution.
Was I really impaired?
Just because you've been charged with a DUI doesn't necessarily mean you were impaired. It's possible to "fail" a field sobriety test for reasons other than impairment, like physical disability, nervousness, or even the weather conditions at the time of the test.
An experienced DUI attorney can help present these alternate explanations to the court during a trial.
Is the breath test accurate?
Breathalyzer tests used to measure Breath Alcohol Content (BAC) are not always accurate. These devices require regular calibration and proper administration to provide accurate results.
If the breathalyzer used in your case was not properly maintained or administered, the results can be challenged in court.
Considering Plea Bargaining
In some cases, a plea bargain might be the best course of action. A plea bargain can lead to reduced charges or penalties, and it might be a strategic choice depending on the specifics of your case.
Plea bargaining in Maryland
In Maryland, common plea bargains for DUI charges include STET, Probation Before Judgment (PBJ), and guilty pleas to lesser charges. Each option has its pros and cons, and the best choice will depend on the specifics of your case. Discussing these options with a skilled Maryland DUI lawyer can help you make an informed decision.
Steps to Take When Dealing with Police on the Roadway
When stopped by police, it is vital to know how to conduct yourself. Your behavior can significantly influence the case against you.
Always remain calm and polite. Avoid volunteering information. Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you in court.
In the context of a traffic stop, provide your license, registration, and insurance information. If asked about drinking, you have the absolute right to decline to answer an incriminating question.
Frequently Asked Questions in DUI Cases
Should I Refuse a Breath Test?
Refusing a breath test can lead to severe consequences, including license suspension and additional criminal penalties in Maryland. It is important to note that a preliminary breath test can be refused without any penalty. These handheld tests are not admissible in any court proceeding in Maryland.
However, in some scenarios, refusal might be in your best interest. If you do submit to a breath test, these results may be challenged in Court..
How do I Find a DUI Lawyer?
To find a DUI lawyer, start with personal recommendations from friends or family. Check with your local bar association for referrals and explore online directories like Martindale-Hubbell or Avvo for ratings and reviews. Perform an online search using terms like "DUI lawyer near me." Ensure the lawyer specializes in DUI cases. Many offer free initial consultations, allowing you to gauge their expertise and your comfort level. Prioritize lawyers with positive client testimonials and proven experience in DUI law. Always verify their credentials and reputation before hiring.
How Much Will a DUI Lawyer Cost?
The cost of hiring a DUI lawyer can vary based on numerous factors. The complexity of your case, the lawyer's experience, and other factors all contribute to the final cost. There is no standard attorney fee rate for Maryland DUI attorneys.
How do I know if a DUI Lawyer is Good for My Case?
Finding the best DUI lawyer in Maryland requires research. Look for experience, success rate, and client reviews. Always trust your gut feeling during initial consultations. Asking about an attorney's expereinces in your cases jurisdiction is a great place to start your evaluation.
Visit our About Us page to know more about our experienced team of lawyers.
A stet is an indefinite postponement of your case. If granted, the case remains inactive unless the State decides to reactivate it. A stet is often a good option if you have a clean record and the evidence against you is not particularly strong.
###Probation Before Judgment (PBJ)
PBJ allows you to avoid a formal conviction and avoid points on your driver's license. If the court grants a PBJ, you will be placed on probation. If you complete your probation successfully, the court will strike the guilty finding, and you will not have a conviction on your record.
Guilty Pleas to Lesser Charges
In some cases, it might be beneficial to plead guilty to a lesser charge, like reckless driving or negligent driving, instead of a DUI.
These charges often carry less severe penalties and may have less impact on your record. A skilled Maryland DUI lawyer can discuss these options with you and help you decide the best course of action.
There are other strategies and defenses available, depending on the specifics of your case.
These might include challenging the reliability of blood test results, disputing the administration of field sobriety tests, or even arguing constitutional violations.
Blood Test Challenges
Just like breath tests, blood tests are not infallible. There might be issues with the handling, storage, or analysis of the blood sample. If the blood test was not conducted properly, the results can be challenged in court.
Field Sobriety Test Administration
An officer's administration of the field sobriety tests can be called into question.
- Were the instructions clear?
- Were the tests demonstrated properly?
- Were the conditions suitable for the tests?
These are all questions that can be raised to challenge the reliability of the tests.
Finally, if your constitutional rights were violated at any point during the stop, arrest, or subsequent proceedings, those violations can be used as a defense.
This might include violations of your 4th amendment rights (unlawful search and seizure), 5th amendment rights (right against self-incrimination), or 6th amendment rights (right to a speedy trial, right to counsel).
Remember, a DUI charge is a serious matter and can have significant implications. Therefore, it's recommended that you consult with an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you explore all possible defenses.
Finding a Maryland DUI Lawyer
When looking for a DUI lawyer, consider the following:
Experience: How many years has the lawyer been practicing? Have they handled DUI cases specifically? What is their track record with these cases?
Reputation: Does the lawyer have a strong reputation in the community? You can check this by looking at reviews, asking for referrals, or checking with local bar associations.
Communication: Is the lawyer responsive? Do they take the time to explain things to you and answer your questions?
Fees: What are the lawyer's fees? Are they transparent about their billing practices?
Being charged with a DUI is a stressful and challenging experience, but with the right legal representation, you can navigate the system more effectively. Remember, it's crucial to act quickly and consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. The sooner you start preparing your defense, the better your chances of a favorable outcome.
Contact FrizWoods Today for a free consultation about your DUI or DWI case in Maryland. With Offices in Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and Prince George's County, we will be happy to assist with your case.
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