Question

How can I beat a DUI in Maryland?

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Andrew D. Alpert - Criminal Defense: DUI/DWI - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Andrew D. Alpert

Located in Bowie, MDAlpert Schreyer, LLC

Bowie, MD
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If you have been arrested for DUI in Maryland, you may think there is nothing you can do to fight the charges, especially if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .08% or above. Don’t give up hope. You do have defenses available. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help you fight the charges. The key is finding an attorney right away with the skill set and background to challenge the evidence submitted by the police and the prosecution. Your defense may challenge any of the following elements of your arrest:

  • Procedural elements — Did the police follow correct protocol in giving you the field sobriety test and the breathalyzer or blood test? Did they follow the proper steps when arresting you?
  • Constitutional elements — Did the police have probable cause to pull you over in the first place? Did they have probable cause to suspect you of impaired driving? Did they read you your Miranda rights at the appropriate time?
  • Scientific elements — Were all machines calibrated correctly? Did they do the tests in the proper time frame? These tests leave plenty of room for both human and technical error.

Although DUI cases may seem simple from the outside, they are actually quite complex. The prosecution must prove many elements and defend their scientific elements. The right attorney can fight any or all of these required elements of your DUI case.

Problems With Current Testing For DUI

When an officer reasonably suspects a driver of DUI, the officer can pull the driver over to investigate further. At this point, the officer has two tests he or she can administer: the field sobriety test and the breathalyzer. Maryland police only use blood tests in certain situations, such as a serious car crash. Note that testing for driving under the influence of drugs is slightly different and relies on blood or urine tests and additional testing from a drug recognition expert. This answer focuses on the breath test, as it is the most common.

Unfortunately, these tests are subject to human and technical errors. The breathalyzer is especially known for giving false positives. That means it may indicate the presence of alcohol when there is none or test higher than the actual BAC. It can also malfunction in other ways.

Refusing To Take The Breath Test

Many people ask about refusing to take the breathalyzer test when pulled over. That is your prerogative and may be in your best interest, depending on the situation. You also do not have to speak or perform a field sobriety test. You only have to produce your identification when asked. If you have, indeed, had quite a bit to drink and you think you may test high, the consequences for refusing the test may be worth it. You will most likely lose your license for 120 days following a first-time refusal and up to a year for a second or subsequent refusal.

The Importance Of The Right Attorney

The best thing you can do for your case is to hire an experienced Maryland DUI defense attorney. There are many to choose from, so here are a few things to look for:

  • Hire a lawyer who is NHTSA certified in field sobriety testing.
  • Hire a lawyer who understands and is certified in breath testing.
  • Hire a lawyer who understands forensic chromatography (testing of blood).

These lawyers not only understand DUI defense but understand the underlying evidence they are challenging in court. That type of understanding will allow them to identify problems with the state’s evidence against you.

What You Can Do To Help Your Case

You may be wondering what you can do for your case beyond hiring the right attorney. Your attorney can help you decide what steps may or may not help your case, but could suggest you go to an alcohol or drug assessment and, possibly, treatment. You are not necessarily admitting guilt. In fact, the assessment could help exonerate you. If not, you have already shown the judge good faith. Your attorney will advise you regarding this step.

Another step to take if you have not yet hired your attorney is to schedule a hearing with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration within 10 days of your arrest. You must do this if you wish to contest a license suspension. In addition, do not pay any tickets or citation if you must appear in court.

Read all the paperwork given to you. In some counties, you must meet with a commissioner within three to seven days when ordered by a police officer. If unsure, you can call the station or officer to ask. You do not need your lawyer at this session, but do not discuss your case with the commissioner.

Now that you understand the tools you need to beat your DUI, you can face your case with renewed confidence and hope for your future.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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