Whenever a client asks if they need a lawyer to represent them for a case, my response is typically always if you are facing jail then you want solid competent legal representation with you in court.
I have seen many State’s Attorneys in court offer what seem to be appealing plea offers. However, the State’s Attorney is not your lawyer. They will not fully advice you of all possible legal defenses, and most importantly, the legal consequences by accepting their plea offer. For instance, the State’s Attorney will not advise you of the possible MVA ramifications associated with accepting a DUI plea offer. The State’s Attorney will not tell you the deficiencies or mistakes made by the police officers in your case.
The consequences of a DUI conviction or probation before judgment are severe. Even a probation before judgment will remain on your record forever as it cannot be expunged in the State of Maryland.
You will not know the law or how it should be applied in court. But you will be upheld to the same standard as an adequately trained lawyer if you choose to represent yourself.
Do I have a right to a jury trial?
If the maximum penalty for the offense you are charged with is more than ninety days (3 months) of incarceration, then you have a right to demand a jury trial.
A first offense Driving Under the Influence charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail. Therefore, you are entitled to request a trial by jury. However, a first offense Driving While Impaired carries a maximum penalty of sixty days in jail so a jury trial would not be permitted.
Will my license be suspended?
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI/DWI, you were most likely given a Temporary (paper) License by the Officer. You are permitted to drive with the Temporary License for 45 days. On the 46th day, if you take no action, your license will automatically be suspended.
There are alternative options to fight the suspension being lodged against your driving privilege and/or request modifications to avoid an outright suspension. Those modifications could include a restricted license, or Ignition Interlock. Each case and facts are different. An experienced attorney can further advise you of your specific options.
Can a preliminary breath test (PBT) be used against me?
No! The preliminary breath test given at the scene is a guide for the police officer to determine if a DUI arrest is appropriate. The results of the PBT are not admissible in court.
What is the penalty for a DUI?
For a first offense DUI, you are facing a maximum penalty of year in jail, $1,000 fine and/or twelve (12) points on your driving record. If a minor was in the vehicle, the maximum penalty is two years and a $2,000 fine.
For a first offense DWI, you are facing a maximum penalty of sixty (60) days in jail, $500 fine, and/or eight (8) points on your driving record.
What is the legal standard for a DUI arrest ?
It is considered to be a Per Se violation of driving under the influence of alcohol if the driver has a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
If a driver’s BAC is 0.05 or less, then the presumption will be that the driver is neither under the influence of alcohol nor impaired by alcohol.
If a driver’s BAC is higher than 0.05 but less than 0.07, then there will be no presumption based on the driver’s BAC (although the BAC may be used along with other competent evidence to come to a conclusion as to the driver’s state of impairment or lack thereof).
If a driver’s BAC is 0.07 or higher but less than 0.08, then it is presumed that the driver was impaired by alcohol.
If a driver’s BAC is 0.02 or higher, then the BAC will be prima facie evidence that the driver was operating a motor vehicle with alcohol in his or her system.
How long do I have to request a MVA hearing to fight my suspension
If you request a MVA hearing within 10 days from the date of your offense you are guaranteed to obtain an extension of your temporary license until your MVA hearing date
If you request a MVA hearing within 30 days from the date of your offense, you are guaranteed a hearing with MVA, but possibly not an extension of your temporary license.
Is a DUI a misdemeanor or felony?
In the State of Maryland, a DUI is a misdemeanor.
What is ignition interlock?
An ignition interlock device means a device that connects a motor vehicle’s ignition system to a breath analyzer that measures a driver’s alcohol concentration and prevents a motor vehicle ignition from starting the motor vehicle if a driver’s alcohol concentration exceeds the calibrated setting on the device.
In addition to blowing into the device to start the vehicle, the device will also ask for random tests while the vehicle is being driven. If the driver doesn’t provide a sufficient sample of breath, the device records a refusal and an alarm will sound until the vehicle is turned off.
Once enrolled in the Ignition Interlock program, you are required to start the vehicle that has the device installed a minimum of 50 times within 30 days. If you have valid justification for not starting your vehicle with the required number of starts, you must notify MVA immediately (ill, out of the country, etc.).
There are a number of different ways you may be found to be in violation of the Ignition Interlock program. You are allowed three violations, each of which will extend your time in the program by thirty days. On the fourth violation, you will be excluded from the program and your license will be suspended or revoked. However, you can request a hearing with MVA to fight against being excluded from the program.
What can I do to help my case
Regardless of guilt or innocence, I recommend every client obtain an alcohol evaluation from a certified treatment center. The treatment center will be able to assess what if any alcohol counsel is necessary. It is best to follow through and complete all of their recommendations prior to your trial. Worst case scenario, you are found not guilty and the treatment is not necessary for your case. If you are found guilty, it is almost guaranteed that a Judge is going to order that you have an evaluation and complete any recommended treatment. Some Judges will consider placing you on unsupervised probation if you have already completed all recommended counseling.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, it may also be beneficial for you to attend AA meetings and obtain a home group and sponsor.
If you are a subsequent offender, it may be beneficial for you to consider more intensive inpatient treatment.