What to Do if You’re Pulled Over for DUI in Maryland
What should you do if you are pulled over for DUI on the Maryland/BWI-Parkway? Get the dos and don’ts from our attorneys.
Have You Been Pulled Over for DUI?
Getting a DUI is most likely something you never believed would happen to you. However, a driving under the influence charge is not something you can simply sweep under the rug and forget about. If not handled correctly, this single moment can have significant consequences on your future. Understanding what you are dealing with and what you’ll need to do is essential.
First and foremost, if you have been pulled over for DUI, you must contact an attorney. A DUI, especially a federal DUI, is among the most serious criminal charges in Maryland, and the prosecution will be ruthless in its pursuit of a conviction. If you want to stand a chance against these charges, you need to fight back with an equally strong defense. Contact experienced Maryland DUI attorney Morgan E. Leigh of Scrofano Law today at 301-905-9821 to schedule a free consultation, or read on to learn everything you need to know about handing a DUI stop on the Maryland/BWI-Parkway.
What Happens When You Get Pulled Over for a DUI?
A police officer can pull you over for a variety of factors, from seeing you swerving to a damaged tail light. Understanding the process the police will follow could mean the difference between your charges being dismissed and having a DUI or DWI conviction on your record.
If you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, you should anticipate the following actions to occur, in this order:
- The stop
- Preliminary investigation
- Roadside tests
When the officer gets to your vehicle, they will start by asking for your driver’s license and registration. If the officer has reasonable suspicion that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will look for indications of impairment, such as slurred speech, the odor of alcohol, or red eyes, to add to their report. The officer might also ask you if you have been drinking, how much you consumed, what you consumed, and when you had your last beverage.
If the officer believes they have verified that you have been drinking, they will then ask you to undergo a series of roadside tests, which will allow them to observe your level of impairment and get an idea of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Typically, authorities will perform two types of voluntary tests to collect this information: field sobriety tests and preliminary breath tests.
Pulled Over for DUI but Not Charged
If the officer who stopped you thinks they have probable cause for an arrest, they will arrest you and take you to the police station. Here, they will do the following:
- Book you and cite you for the offense
- Read you your Miranda rights
- Inform you about implied consent and ask you to participate in a blood or breath test
- Withhold your driver’s license and offer a temporary driver’s permit
- Hold you until you are bailed out or a judge authorizes your release on your own recognizance
If you are pulled over and arrested on suspicion of DUI but not charged upon release, it’s important not to get too comfortable yet. This only means that the officer has referred your case to the prosecutor, who will then examine the evidence and decide whether you should be formally charged with a DUI. Therefore, if you are arrested, you should reach out to a criminal defense attorney regardless of whether you have been charged with anything. This will help ensure that you have a strong defense strategy ready if and when charges are filed against you.
Know Your Rights When Pulled Over
When you are pulled over and arrested for DUI, knowing your rights is vital. Here are a few tips to keep in mind about your rights throughout the process:
- You have the right to remain silent. This means that you are not required to provide an answer to any questions the officer asks about where you are going or what you are doing. If you wish to exercise this right, say so out loud.
- You can legally refuse a field sobriety test. If you choose not to participate, politely decline and be as respectful as possible.
- You do not have to comply with an officer’s request to search your car or your person, but the police still have some rights to search, and they may pat down your clothing to make sure you do not have a weapon. While refusing to comply may not prevent a search, it does protect your rights if the court finds the search unreasonable.
Perhaps most vital is your right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, the government must appoint one to you. However, it’s always preferable to hire a private DUI defense attorney to represent you, especially when facing charges as serious as a federal DUI.
You also have a right to refuse any requested blood or breath tests, but keep in mind that there are serious consequences, such as a driver’s license suspension, if you refuse. You may call an attorney for legal advice before deciding whether to take these tests, but you will have a limited window of time to do this. To prepare for this, we recommend keeping the phone number of a reputable DUI lawyer on you at all times before you’re caught off guard with a DUI arrest. You can reach the law firm of Morgan E. Leigh at 301-905-9821.
How to Get Out of a DUI When Pulled Over
Unfortunately, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll get out of a DUI when pulled over, especially if you display outward signs of intoxication or impairment, and in most cases, you will be arrested if you are pulled over for a DUI in Maryland. However, there are a few things to keep in mind that can potentially reduce your odds of facing a conviction.
What to Do If Pulled Over for DUI on the BWI – Parkway
To reduce risk to yourself:
- Stop the car in a safe and orderly fashion.
- Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, open the window half-way, and place your hands on the steering wheel. Do not step out of the vehicle unless you are told to.
- Be polite and cooperative with the officer. Avoid making sudden movements and keep your hands where the officer can see them at all times.
- Show the officer your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance only when requested to do so.
- Do not say or do anything that could incriminate yourself — almost nothing that you say will help your situation. If you refuse a field sobriety test and/or assert your right to remain silent, the court will have less evidence to use against you at trial. Above all, do not admit to drinking.
If you are arrested or detained, continue to assert your right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Do not take any further action until speaking with your attorney.
Federal DUI Laws
State DUI laws in Maryland are harsh enough, but Maryland drivers also need to worry about facing prosecution under federal DUI laws. With DC’s abundance of federal properties right around the corner, it can be all too easy to find yourself in this situation.
Federal DUI charges are most commonly imposed when drivers are arrested for driving under the influence on federal property. Such property can include national parks, national monuments, military bases, post offices, parking lots located on federal land, certain airports, and government compounds.
While the guidelines for what constitutes a DUI are similar for both state and federal charges, they most greatly differ in their court procedures. Under federal law, a person accused of a DUI does not have a right to a jury, and refusing to submit to a chemical test after a DUI arrest is a misdemeanor, which can carry up to six months in federal prison along with a hefty fine. You may also lose your privilege to drive on federal land for one year after you are arrested.
Fighting a DUI in MD Federal Court
Federal police officers may try to violate your rights during a traffic stop, and they will be eager to arrest and charge you even if the evidence is limited. However, you can fight back against the MD federal court by hiring a skilled attorney with extensive experience representing individuals faced with both state and federal DUI charges.
Contact an Attorney When Facing the US District Court Maryland
As one of Maryland’s top federal criminal defense lawyers, attorney Morgan E. Leigh is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, and she has what it takes to defend you against your federal DUI charges. If you’re ready to begin building a strong defense against the Maryland federal court system, we invite you to contact us today to schedule a free consultation.