Protect Your License with a Skilled Maryland DUI Lawyer
DWI or DUI are serious offenses, but a Maryland DUI lawyer can help you remedy the situation.
Get Help from a Maryland DUI Lawyer If You’re Arrested
In Maryland, the State prosecutes driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI) charges aggressively. Once the police have pulled you over, almost anything you do in a DUI investigation can be used against you.
If you are talkative with the police, they’ll use that as a sign of impairment. If you do not say much, they’ll claim that your quietness is evidence of impairment. But having an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer can help you out.
Or, the driver could end up hitting a Maryland DUI checkpoint. While under the influence of alcohol, if the driver is impaired, then she will keep talking to the driver to get more time to observe the driver.
Once the officer has something called “reasonable, articulable suspicion,” she will likely ask the driver to exit the vehicle to perform roadside standardized field sobriety testing (or “SFSTs”). SFSTs are a standardized testing battery set out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”).
NHTSA trains and certifies certain police officers in the administration and interpretation of standardized field sobriety tests. With so much at stake, Maryland criminal defense lawyers like Attorney Paolo Gnocchi of Scrofano Law can calm your nerves with a robust drunk driving defense and provide legal advice.
She has years of experience zealously representing clients charged with DUI or driving under the influence around Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Worcester County, and nearby areas.
Standardized Field Sobriety Testing for Maryland DUI Arrests
The SFSTs are a battery of standardized tests that are intended to detect whether a person is operating a vehicle while impaired. They involve three specific tests: The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (or “HGN”) test, the Walk and Turn Test, and the Leg Stand Test.
These tests are notable in that the officers do not and are not trained to inform the driver of what exactly constitutes a “clue” of impairment on each test. That’s right. Imagine taking a quiz or test in school where the teacher never taught you the material and did not tell you what material was getting tested.
Most DUI lawyers will tell you that these tests are designed for people to fail the criminal justice system. However, it is still important to understand what the SFSTs are looking for.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus is an involuntary jerking of the eyes that supposedly shows alcohol impairment. The (three in each eye), or “lack of smooth pursuit,” where one’s eyes look like a broken windshield wiper when moving side to side. The second two clues are called “distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation.” This is where the officer holds the pen out far to the right and left and holds it there for four seconds.
Police believe that if there is “distinct and sustained” jerking of the eyeballs while holding the pen out there, then that is two more observable clues. Finally, the “onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees” is the final two clues where the officer will slowly move the pen and see if the eyes jerk before getting to a 45-degree angle. Police are trained to make an arrest where a person observes 4 out of 6 clues on the HGN.
They will request you walk down a straight line (real or imaginary) the line. The police look for eight potential clues. This is a final test where the police tell you to keep one foot six inches parallel from the ground and to count out loud while they time you for thirty seconds. The one-leg stand test has four potential clues: swaying, dropping your raised foot, raising arms for balance, and hopping.
These latter two tests are called “divided attention” tests that will supposedly give an officer reason to believe the driver who fails these tests is impaired by alcohol. Anything can be seen as a sign of impairment: talking much, not talking at all, or failing a field sobriety test for some reason. However, the less evidence you give to the police officer who pulled you over, the better. If you are nervous, be careful and watch what you say.
If you have been charged with DUI, driving under the influence of drugs or illegal substances, or have any prior DUI penalties, you should consult Maryland DUI lawyers who maintain an excellent attorney-client relationship as soon as possible.
If you are pulled over for suspected DUI and made to take an SFST, the problems can be compounded if you are also found to have a fake ID or have been imbibing while underage. Don’t hesitate to contact a DUI/DWI attorney for the best possible outcome in this challenging situation.
Experienced Maryland DUI attorneys can develop a strategy without asking you for any confidential or sensitive information on the web that will work best for your case and help you prepare for court.
Drunk Driving and Breathalyzer Testing
Some officers in Maryland carry what is called a Preliminary Breath Test or “PBT.” This device is a miniature breathalyzer with limited accuracy but can give the officers “probable cause” to arrest where the driver blows 0.08. To administer a PBT, the officer must follow Transportation Article 16-205.2 of the Maryland DUI Law. That means the officer must correctly advise the driver what rights the driver has under the law.
Ultimately, the score from the PBT cannot be used against the driver at trial where a DUI arrest occurs and the driver submits to PBT testing. However, if the results favor the Defendant (i.e., the score is below ), the Defendant can introduce the testing results at trial to support the argument that they were not impaired.
In addition to roadside PBT testing, Maryland police who arrest a DUI suspect will likely also ask the driver to blow into the breathalyzer machine at the station. Here, the information will be used against Defendant. In addition, whether the driver agrees to take the test can carry legal implications for the driver’s license at the Maryland Vehicle Administration (or “MVA”).
MVA Hearings for DUI in Maryland
Once an individual is arrested for DUI in Maryland, the police will confiscate their driver’s license and issue them a temporary license for 45 days. After that time elapses, the Motor Vehicle Administration will suspend the driver’s license for 45 days for a first offense and 90 days for a second offense or if the driver refuses the breath test. The officer must also provide the driver with a form DR-15 outlining the suspension terms and the need to request a hearing.
The driver must request a hearing within ten days of the arrest to get an extension document that keeps the driver’s license valid until the date of the MVA hearing. At the MVA hearing, the driver can request the administrative law judge modify the suspension period. For example, if the driver can show the suspension causes a work hardship, the judge may modify the suspension to permit the individual to drive to and from work.
If the driver refuses the breath test, the judge cannot shorten the sentence. The interlock device’s purpose is to ensure the driver does not operate their vehicle after consuming alcohol. The driver must pay the cost of the interlock device.
Maryland Drunk Driving Charges and Penalties
The Maryland Criminal Code has several listed offenses for impaired driving offenses, including:
Driving while under the influence of alcohol (“DUI”),
Driving while under the influence of alcohol per se, or “DUI per se” (where the blood alcohol content or BAC is 0.08 or greater),
Driving under the influence of alcohol while transporting a minor,
Driving while impaired by alcohol,
Driving while impaired by alcohol while transporting a minor,
Driving or attempting to drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or any combination of drugs and/or alcohol that prevents safe driving,
Boating while under the influence, and
Driving while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.
These offenses can lead to severe penalties, including jail time, fines, and mandatory participation in alcohol education or treatment programs. Additionally, a DUI conviction and any subsequent convictions can result in the loss of driving privileges and significantly impact one’s personal life and employment.
Will You Go to Jail for a DUI in Maryland?
The consequences of a DUI charge may include fines, required alcohol abuse treatment, suspension of your driver’s license, installation of an IID (Ignition Interlock Device), probation, and possibly even jail time.
The Maryland Criminal Code lists these offenses separately, each with different maximum penalties. It also includes enhanced penalties for DUI and DWI cases where the driver has a minor in the vehicle. Below is a chart that describes the maximum penalties for each offense:
Driving Under the Influence – First Offense• Up to 12 months in jail
• Up to $1,000.00 in fines
• 12 points on driving record Driving Under the Influence – Second Offense• Up to 2 years in jail
• Up to $2,000.00 in fines
• License revocation Driving While Impaired – First Offense• Up to two months in jail
• Up to $500 in fines
• 8 points on driving record
• Possible license suspensions Driving under the Influence – First Offense – with a minor• Up to 2 years in jail
• Up to $2,000.00 in fines
• Possible license revocation Driving Under the Influence – Second Offense – with a minor• Up to 3 years in jail
• Up to $3,000.00 in fines
• Possible license revocation Driving While Impaired – First Offense – with a minor• Up to 6 months in jail
• Up to $1,000.00 fine
• Possible license suspension Driving While Impaired – Second Offense – with a minor• Up to 1 year in prison
• Up to $2,000.00 in fines
• Possible license revocation
There are also enhanced penalties for third and subsequent offenses for all the above charges. Finally, in addition to the above penalties, several collateral consequences come with a DWI or DUI conviction in MD.
These consequences include having a criminal record and an interlock ignition device installed on your vehicle. Individuals with security clearances and immigration status can also suffer negative collateral consequences from a drunk driving arrest.
Although facing a DUI charge for the first time means the driver usually doesn’t have to worry about enhanced penalties that follow a subsequent DUI or DWI offense, a first-time offense must be taken seriously.
Fighting the accusation in court and preserving a clean driving record can be challenging and frightening. Even if you don’t have prior arrests, you can only benefit by hiring a skillful DUI lawyer. Your Maryland DUI lawyer can guide you through the legal process and fight the charges brought against you.
If this is not your first drunk driving offense, a DUI or DWI conviction under MD DUI law will undoubtedly lead to receiving points on your driving record. A conviction for DUI will result in 12 points, and a conviction for DWI will result in 8 points.
However, the court doesn’t impose these points. The MD Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) automatically adds points to your driving record. MVA adds points after the conviction is reported to them.
However, if this is your first DWI or DUI charge, you may be eligible to receive probation before judgment. That is not a conviction; hence, no points are added to your driving record. An experienced lawyer can make sure your case results in probation before judgment.
That is why consulting with a Maryland DUI lawyer with experience handling DUI or DWI cases is crucial.
Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test in Maryland?
Refusing a breathalyzer test in Maryland can lead to stringent consequences. The state operates under implied consent laws, meaning drivers must submit to chemical testing. A refusal can result in the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration suspending driving privileges. Furthermore, such refusal can be used as court evidence, potentially leading to increased criminal penalties.
How Can a Maryland DUI Lawyer Help Reduce or Dismiss Charges?
Engaging a qualified DUI lawyer, particularly one affiliated with the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association or a locally recognized authority, is pivotal in efforts to reduce or dismiss DUI charges.
These lawyers meticulously examined the actions of law enforcement officers, ensuring the arrest and blood alcohol concentration testing were conducted lawfully and according to protocol.
An experienced DUI lawyer, adept in navigating DUI trials and the intricacies of the local court system, can challenge evidence credibility, negotiate favorable plea deals, and formulate a compelling defense strategy.
Being represented by a lawyer renowned for best DUI defense, possibly a National College for DUI Defense member, is invaluable.
They adeptly handle the complexities of DUI cases, which necessitate keen legal insight, and utilize their extensive knowledge of the circuit court proceedings to the client’s advantage.
A proficient legal team can also mitigate the repercussions of a drunk driving case on an individual’s record, thereby safeguarding their reputation and livelihood.
How Does Maryland Treat Out-of-State DUIs?
There is a separate process for individuals possessing out-of-state licenses, but the right DUI lawyer can still help. If you refused to take a breath test or the number on the breath score was significantly over the limit, that may only affect your driving privileges within the State of Maryland.
Although MD can not act on an out-of-state license, your home state may choose to act on it. For example, if you refuse to take a sobriety test, your driving rights can be suspended for 270 days. Plus, if your blood alcohol content is higher than 0.15, the state can restrict your license.
Hiring a Maryland DUI Attorney
If you, a friend, or a loved one has been charged with a DUI or DWI, contact a Maryland criminal defense lawyer like Attorney Paolo Gnocchi immediately for a full consultation. Ms. Leigh can advise you about immediate steps to take in light of your arrest.
In addition, Ms. Leigh, like all of our lawyers, has been certified to administer the standardized field sobriety tests, which means she has taken the same test and certification course as MD DUI officers have.
How Much Is a DUI Lawyer in Maryland?
If you’re wondering how much a DUI lawyer in Maryland costs, the answer is that it depends. The cost varies depending on several factors. It’s recommended to get in touch with several experienced Maryland DUI attorneys and ultimately hire the right DUI/DWI law firm and a DUI and criminal defense attorney for your case.
Although every DUI case is unique, you’ll be required to appear at least once at the district court, and representing yourself can be complex and tough. Your goal should be to avoid conviction or to obtain the best possible result.
Those who are convicted of a traffic-related crime face losing their driving privileges, jail time, fines, as well as increases in car insurance premiums. Drivers should be aware of these legal risks. If you are facing a DUI charge, seek out a skilled DUI lawyer in Maryland who can protect your rights and provide superb legal representation.
Choosing the Best DUI Lawyer in Maryland
Whether you are arrested for drunk driving with an MD license or one from a different state, choosing the best DUI lawyer in MD is the right choice to reduce fees and avoid jail time. Experienced Maryland DUI lawyers will provide an adequate DUI defense. Since DUI/DWI often includes a reckless driving charge, having a DUI (DWI) defense lawyer equipped for both is wise. Fortunately, defense attorneys at Scrofano Law are qualified and knowledgeable in all traffic law issues within Maryland.
The Process of Choosing a DUI Lawyer
When selecting a DUI lawyer, it’s essential to consider several aspects to ensure that you’re making the best choice. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
Experience: Choosing an experienced DUI lawyer can increase the chances of a favorable outcome. Look for a lawyer with substantial experience handling similar cases.
Specialization: It’s vital to choose a lawyer specializing in DUI defense and extensive knowledge of the state’s laws and procedures.
Reputation: Conduct thorough research on potential lawyers and read reviews from past clients to understand their reputation and success rate.
Cost: It’s crucial to consider the cost of hiring a DUI lawyer and ensure it aligns with your budget. Remember that quality representation may come at a higher cost but can lead to better results.
Communication: Look for a lawyer who is easily accessible and communicates effectively. Good communication between a lawyer and a client is crucial in building a solid defense.
Strategy: Discuss potential defense strategies with the lawyer and ensure they align with your goals and values. A good DUI lawyer will tailor a defense strategy to fit your situation.
A DUI charge can have severe consequences, but hiring a skilled and experienced Maryland DUI lawyer can help protect your license and mitigate the impact on your life. Don’t hesitate to contact a reputable DUI attorney for guidance and representation if you’re facing these charges.
Get Help for MD DUI: Areas Served
Attorney Paolo Gnocchi routinely practices in Montgomery County District and Circuit Courts. This includes DUI offenses that occur in towns like Rockville, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and Gaithersburg, as well as Chevy Chase, Somerset, Kensington, Laytonsville, and Wheaton.
In addition, Ms. Leigh practices in Prince George’s County, MD, which includes the cities of Bowie, College Park, Capitol Heights, Beltsville, Bladensburg, New Carrollton, Greenbelt, Fort Washington, Temple Hills, Accokeek, Clinton, Largo, Oxon Hill, Laurel, Lanham, Forestville, and Glenn Dale.
Contact us at ScrofanoLaw for a free consultation.