Maryland DUI Lawyer
DWI or DUI are serious offenses, but a Maryland DUI lawyer can help you remedy the situation. Learn more here.
Get Help from a Maryland DUI Lawyer If You’re Arrested
A typical Maryland DUI investigation will start with the officer pulling the driver over for some type of traffic infraction. It could be something serious liker responding to a scene of an accident or for something as minor as failing to use a blinker. Or, the driver could end up hitting a Maryland DUI checkpoint. While under the influence of alcohol and if the driver is impaired, then she will keep talking to the driver to get more time observing the driver.
Once the officer has something called “reasonable, articulable suspicion,” likely she will ask the driver to exit the vehicle to perform roadside standardized field sobriety testing (or “SFSTs”). SFSTs are a standardized battery of testing set out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or “NHTSA”). NHTSA trains and certifies certain police officers in the administration and interpretation of the standardized field sobriety tests. With so much at stake, Maryland DUI lawyer like Attorney Morgan Leigh of Scrofano Law can calm your nerves and provide advice. She possesses years of experience zealously representing clients who are charged with DUI.
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 One 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. 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 when moving side to side look kind of like a broken windshield wiper. 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, “onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees” is the final two clues where the officer will very 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, which include swaying, dropping your raised foot, raising arms for balance, and hopping. These latter two tests are referred to as “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, try to be careful and watch what you are saying.
Those who have been charged with DUI or driving under the influence of drugs or illegal substances should consult with Maryland DUI lawyers 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 found to also have a fake ID or have been imbibing while underage. Don’t hesitate to contact an attorney to get the best possible outcome in this difficult situation. Experienced Maryland DUI lawyer can develop a strategy 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 basically a miniature breathalyzer with limited accuracy but can give the officers “probable cause” to make an arrest where the driver blows 0.08. To administer a PBT, the officer must follow the 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 Maryland 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 the 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, MVA 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 that outlines the terms of the suspension and need to request a hearing.
The driver must request a hearing within 10 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 period of suspension. For example, if the driver can show the suspension causes a work hardship, its possible the judge will modify the suspension to permit the individual to drive to and from work.
If the driver refused the breath test, then the judge cannot shorten the sentence. The purpose of the interlock device is to make sure 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.
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, and they each have 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
Although facing a DUI charge for the first time means the driver usually doesn’t have to worry about enhanced penalties that follow subsequent DUI or DWI offense, a first-time offense must be taken seriously. The process of fighting the accusation in court, avoiding driver’s license suspension, jail time, fines, 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 Maryland 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 in 8 points. However, the court doesn’t impose these points. Points on your driving record are added automatically by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). MVA adds points after the conviction is reported to them.
However, in case this is your first DWI or DUI charge, you may be eligible to receive a probation before judgment. That is not a conviction, and hence, no points are added to your driving record. An experienced attorney can make sure your case results in probation before judgment. That is why it is crucial to consult with a Maryland DUI lawyer who has experience handling DUI or DWI cases.
How Does Maryland Treat Out of State DUI?
For individuals possessing out of state licenses, there is a separate process but a Maryland DUI lawyer can still help. If you refused to take a breath test or if the number on the breath score was significantly over the limit, that may only affect your driving privileges within the State of Maryland.
Although Maryland can not act on an out-of-state license, your home state may choose to act on it. For example, if you refused to take a sobriety test, your driving rights can be suspended for 270 days. Plus, your blood alcohol content was 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 arrested for DUI or DWI in Maryland, contact Attorney Morgan Leigh immediately for a full consultation. Ms. Leigh can advise you about what immediate steps you should take in light of your arrest. In addition, Ms. Leigh, like all of our attorneys, has been certified to administer the standardized field sobriety tests, which means she has taken the same test and certification course as Maryland 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: it depends. The cost varies depending on several factors that include:
- Experience including how many DUI clients and cases the lawyer has defended
- How difficult the case is
- How far the lawyer needs to travel for any court appearances
- Will the case result in a plea or a trial?
- Your prior criminal or traffic record
There are other various factors that may affect the cost of your Maryland DUI lawyer, but the cost for a first-time offense can range from $1500 to $3000. It entirely depends on the case.
Choosing the Best DUI Lawyer in Maryland
Whether you are arrested for drunk driving with a Maryland license or one from a different state, choosing the best DUI lawyer in Maryland is the right choice to reduce fees and avoid jail time. Experienced Maryland DUI lawyers will provide an adequate criminal defense in the state of Maryland. Since DWI often includes a reckless driving charge, having an attorney equipped for both is wise. Fortunately, the attorneys at ScrofanoLaw are qualified and knowledgeable in all traffic law issues within the state of Maryland.
Get Help for Maryland DUI: Areas Served
Attorney Morgan Leigh routinely practices in Montgomery County District and Circuit Courts. This includes DUI offenses that occur in towns like Rockville, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Gaithersburg as well as Chevy Chase, Somerset, Kensington, and Laytonsville and Wheaton.
In addition, Ms. Leigh practices in Prince George’s County, Maryland, which includes 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.