Fighting DUI Charges
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Maryland, it is important to understand the specific charges and penalties you are facing and how you can fight them. In Maryland, combating alcohol or drug-related driving charges can be complicated – especially since there are four such charges that are each treated differently under the law.
Learning exactly what you are up against, however, is the first step toward obtaining a fair resolution of your case. Your Howard County DUI lawyer can guide you through the process and build you the strongest defense possible based on the facts and circumstances of your case. To learn more about what you can do, call an experienced attorney in Howard County today.
DUI Charges in Maryland
Under Maryland Code § 21-902, driving under the influence of alcohol is the most serious drunk-driving offense.
A blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or above is automatically considered a DUI offense under Maryland law, while a BAC of 0.07 percent or above is typically considered the lesser offense of driving while impaired by alcohol.
A BAC level of between 0.05 and 0.07 percent may constitute either a DUI or DWI charge – or neither – depending on the other evidence in the case.
Evidence Reliability in a Maryland DUI Case
When a driver’s BAC level falls into this “gray area,” prosecutors considering whether to pursue a DUI conviction will take into account the circumstances observed by the law enforcement officer who made the stop.
For instance, the prosecutor may consider the results of any field sobriety test performed during the stop, whether the officer reportedly smelled alcohol on the driver’s breath or observed alcohol in the vehicle, and whether the driver behaved erratically before or during the traffic stop.
The perceptions of individual law enforcement officers can be notoriously subjective. Field sobriety tests can be unreliable and depend too heavily on how well they are conducted. Officers’ recollections may be incorrect, or could be influenced by outside factors. Even the behavior of passengers in the vehicle might unfairly affect whether an officer perceives the driver to be under the influence of alcohol.
Your Howard County DUI attorney can challenge the validity of such evidence in court, or during pretrial negotiations. He or she may also call into question any breathalyzer test results, as these machines can give faulty readings.
DUI Penalties in Maryland
One reason why having an experienced DUI lawyer from Howard County as your advocate is so important is that the penalties for alcohol-related driving charges in the state of Maryland can be quite harsh.
A standard first-offense DUI carries penalties of up to one year in jail and $1000 in fines. The penalties increase for subsequent offenses, if a driver is underage, or if a minor was present in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop. A driver with two prior DUI or DWI convictions who had a minor in the car faces up to four years in jail and a fine of up to $4000, for example.
Multiple DUI or DWI convictions within the same five-year period also carry mandatory minimum penalties – five days served in jail for two convictions, and a ten-day mandatory minimum for three or more convictions.
No matter whether you are facing a first-offense DUI charge, or have prior convictions, your Howard County DUI lawyer can determine what steps to take to best protect your rights.