One of the most common types of arrest in Maryland is for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Unfortunately, for many people who choose to drive, it can be difficult to sense the line between sobriety and one too many drinks for driving. A DUI arrest can be embarrassing and may cause employment difficulties, but with appropriate defense strategies and the help of a Montgomery County DUI lawyer, a person may be able to have the case dismissed or minimize the consequences of a DUI. To learn more or discuss what defenses may be available to you, call and schedule a consultation with a criminal lawyer in Montgomery County today.
Understanding Maryland DUI Laws
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in all 50 states. Although some states set the legal limit for impairment lower, in Maryland, DUI per se occurs with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater. For a per se offense, a person is considered to be breaking the law regardless of mitigating circumstances. A person accused of DUI per se is guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of 0.08 or greater even if he or she does not exhibit common signs of impairment.
Maryland DUI laws, in Maryland Code § 21-902, prohibit driving under the influence (DUI) and DUI per se as well as the following acts:
- Driving while impaired by alcohol (DWI)
- Driving while impaired by drugs (or a combination of drugs and alcohol) to an extent that prevents a person from operating a vehicle safely
- Driving while impaired by a controlled substance (DUI-drug)
In general, first offense DUI in Montgomery County is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, with a DUI defense lawyer advocating for the defendant, a person may successfully avoid maximum penalties, whether through a dismissal of the charge or alternative sentencing such as probation before judgment (PBJ).
Penalties for DUI increase with the presence of certain aggravating factors: elevated BAC, transportation of a minor, and second or subsequent DUI offenses, for example.
Field Sobriety and Breathalyzer Tests
Law enforcement agents look for certain “visual cues” in driving behaviors to determine the likelihood that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even in a regular traffic stop, certain behaviors may indicate that a driver is impaired.
If a law enforcement officer suspects DUI, he or she will likely ask the driver to perform one or more field sobriety tests from a series of tests developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Once a person is arrested on suspicion of DUI, he or she will be transported to the police station and subjected to blood alcohol analysis, typically through a breathalyzer test. Refusal of the test can lead to immediate driver’s license suspension.
It is important to note that a failed field sobriety test or a breathalyzer result indicating impairment do not mean that a person will be convicted of DUI. A lawyer may be able to successfully demonstrate that a traffic stop was illegal, thus throwing out the remaining evidence. He or she may be able to demonstrate that a field sobriety test was conducted improperly, and therefore could not give probable cause for an arrest. Finally, a DUI defense attorney may be able to successfully point out improperly maintained or calibrated breathalyzer equipment, which could give an inaccurate result.
Finding a Montgomery County DUI Attorney
To learn more about Maryland DUI defense or to speak with a lawyer about your case, call today.