Three common defenses to drunk driving charges in Maryland

Those facing DUI charges have options.

Getting charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is an intimidating occurrence. Those who find themselves facing these charges may be tempted to rush through the process on their own, hoping to get a “good deal” and move on with their lives. Before agreeing to anything, it is wise to have a basic understanding of the potential penalties and defenses.

Drunk driving conviction in Maryland: The penalties

Current penalties for DUI crimes in Maryland include:

  • Monetary fine. Those who are convicted of a DUI crime receive a $1,000 fine for a first offense and a $2,000 fine for a second.
  • Imprisonment. Jail time may also accompany these convictions. A first offense can result in up to one year imprisonment. A second offense generally comes with a mandatory minimum of five days imprisonment along with a potential sentence of up to two years imprisonment.
  • License revocation. A driver’s license revocation also applies. The first offense comes with a revocation lasting up to six months, the second up to one year.

Additional penalties can apply depending on the details of the charges. One example is mandatory participation in the ignition interlock program. Maryland’s Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration states that “[a]ny conviction for impaired driving mandates enrollment in” the ignition interlock program.

Drunk driving conviction in Maryland: The defenses

Defenses are available for those who are facing these charges. Three of the more common include:

  • The stop. An officer that pulls over a vehicle is required to have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, or probable cause, to make the stop. Examples can include crossing traffic lanes erratically, illegal turns and frequent braking. Without probable cause, an officer cannot legally stop a vehicle. As a result, it is important to review the circumstances leading to the traffic stop. This could establish the officer did not have probable cause to make the stop. If established, a dismissal of charges is likely.
  • The test. The test used to gather evidence to support charges of driving while under the influence should also be reviewed. If a Breathalyzer was used, various issues could be present. Examples include the calibration and maintenance of the machine itself as well as the actual administration of the test. A mistake at any level could lead to faulty results.
  • The arrest. Officers making an arrest are required to follow strict protocol. This includes the need for an officer to properly provide and abide by the Miranda warning.

Although these examples provide some basic information, it is important to note that each defense strategy should be tailored for each unique situation. As a result, it is wise for those who are facing these charges to seek the counsel of an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer.

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