Among the most common cases heard in criminal courts are those that allege driving under the influence of alcohol. Every motorist should know it is dangerous and illegal to drive after drinking. However, they may not be aware of the specific state laws that prohibit this behavior and what the State’s prosecutor needs to prove to obtain a conviction.
An Upper Marlboro DUI lawyer could help immediately after an arrest that alleges driving under the influence of alcohol. They could work to protect the rights of an individual while still in police custody. A dedicated defense attorney aims to fully investigate the incident to discover weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.
DUI vs. DWI
State law provides precise definitions of what it means to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. According to Maryland Transportation Code § 21-902, no person may drive or attempt to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The same statute also says that it is illegal to drive or attempt to drive a vehicle while impaired by alcohol. There are differences between being under the influence of alcohol and being impaired.
Driving under the influence (DUI) generally means you blew above a .08 or consumed enough alcohol/drugs to show substantial impairment. DUI convictions are always serious matters. Even a first conviction will create a criminal record and force a person to spend significant time in jail and lose their driving privileges. The specific penalties are:
- One year in jail
- $1,000 fine
- 12 points on your license (revocation possible)
- $500 fine
While driving while impaired (DWI) is a less serious criminal offense, the potential penalties for a conviction may still be severe. Prosecutors take these allegations seriously, and state law allows courts to impose strict criminal and administrative penalties after a conviction. A court can find you guilty of a DWI for refusing to blow or blowing slightly below the legal limit of .08. The maximum possible penalties for a DUI conviction are:
- Up to two months in jail
- A fine of up to $500
- A loss of license for up to six months
Letting a DUI attorney in Upper Marlboro handle the case allows them to provide more information about the potential impact of these cases on your life and develop a strategy to fight back against the accusations in court.
What to Expect When Stopped for DUI
The officer must have a reason to pull your vehicle over. The reasons can range from failing to use your indicator to swerving. Once your vehicle is stopped, the officer will request your license and registration. When an officer stops you for suspicion of DUI or DWI and they smell drugs or alcohol, they will ask to step out of the vehicle to conduct a further examination called standard a field sobriety test. After the field sobriety test, the office may ask you to blow into a device called a PBT or place you under arrest. After you are placed under arrest, you will have the option to provide a breath sample to determine your level of intoxication.
How an Attorney Can Defend a Case
The are numerous ways to defend DUI charges, and our strategy will be tailored to your case. We will explore the validity of the traffic stop and field sobriety test procedures and determine if the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. On occasion, an officer fails to provide a reason for the stop, or the stop is invalid according to state law. An invalid or improper stop can require dismissal of the charges.
In addition, common errors that officers commit can render some, if not the entire test, invalid. For example, the breath sample provided must be performed accurately or the machine can provide a false reading. If the officer missed a step, or gave improper instructions, the court could dismiss your breath or blood results. It takes a trained and experienced DUI attorney in Upper Marlboro to catch these errors and present them in court.
License Suspension and MVA Hearings
If you want to reserve your right to drive after being arrested for a DUI or DWI, you need to request an MVA hearing within 30 days of the incident or enroll into the ignition interlock program. A lawyer in Upper Marlboro will be able to analyze your DUI case to determine which option will be best for you.
The purpose of MVA hearings is to determine your license status. The are several reasons you may request a MVA hearing from DUI charge to point accumulation. For point accumulation, the MVA will send you a document informing you of your right to a hearing. Having an attorney at these hearings could be the difference between driving or taking Uber.
Driving With a Suspended License
All suspended licenses are not treated equally. The reason why your license is suspended is important. If your license is suspended for failing to pay fines, your maximum penalty is a fine only. However, if you are suspended for point accumulation or an alcohol-related offense, the maximum penalty is one year in jail. If you were pulled over while your license was suspended, you need to seek the services of an attorney to assist with your charges.
Driving With a Revoked License
Driving while revoked carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The difference between driving while suspended and driving while revoked is the time you lose your driving privileges. Driving while revoked is an indefinite loss of driving privileges and you will have to get your driving privileges reinstated by the MVA.
Contact an Upper Marlboro DUI Attorney Now
An arrest for an alleged DUI or DWI is a serious matter. A conviction will see you pay stiff fines, lose your license for up to six months, and may even result in jail time. An Upper Marlboro DUI lawyer is ready to fight for you. Whether you are looking to enter a diversionary program to bring the matter to a close or want to fight the charges at trial, an attorney can explain the relevant laws, gather evidence about the case, and work to defend your rights every step of the way. Reach out now to learn more.