If you are facing a DUI for the first time in Maryland, you may be overwhelmed by the charge or frightened about the potential penalties you may face. A conviction or driving under the influence carries serious repercussions which can affect not only your criminal record but your way of life. If you have been charged with DUI, James Peters will work to help you fight your charge and minimize the penalties that you face.
Definition of DUI
In the state of Maryland, the legal limit for driving after drinking is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. You will be considered to be driving under the influence if your BAC is above 0.08%.
Elements of § 21–902
Section 21-901 of the Code of Maryland prohibits a person from driving or attempting to drive a vehicle while the person is under the influence. The statute sets forth penalties for driving impaired based on whether the offense is a person's first, second, or third or subsequent offense of driving under the influence. For purposes of the statute, a person can be considered to be driving under the influence if impaired by:
- Illegal substances; and
- Controlled substances.
Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing
If you are stopped while driving and believe that you are above the legal limit if you refuse to submit to alcohol breath testing this may help you avoid criminal sanctions but could also result in you losing your driver's license for a time. Most defense attorneys would suggest not taking the test but that decision depends more on your specific circumstances. When it comes to alcohol breath testing, Maryland is an implied consent state, meaning that consenting to test is a condition of obtaining your driver's license. If you are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence and refuse to take a breathalyzer test or field sobriety test, your driver's license will be confiscated and suspended for 270 days. In instead of a suspension of your license, you could choose to enroll in Maryland's Ignition Interlock Program, which is discussed below, for a period of one year.
Aggravating Factors in a DUI Charge
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, special circumstances may increase the penalties that you face upon conviction. These aggravating factors include:
- A DUI-related accident which results in a fatality;
- Driving under the influence under the age of 21 (with or without the possession of a fake ID);
- Operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence;
- Driving under the influence while transporting a minor.
- Previous DUI or DWI convictions.
Penalties (Criminal and Collateral) for a DUI Conviction
Those who are charged with a DUI in Maryland face some serious repercussions if convicted--thanks newly-enacted legislation in Maryland called Noah's Law, penalties for driving under the influence have increased in the state. If you are convicted of DUI for the first time, your license will be revoked for up to six months. Along with a revocation of your driving privileges, you can also face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.
License suspension and potential jail time aren't the only punishment that you could face following a conviction of driving under the influence; Noah's Law makes the installation of an ignition interlock device mandatory for anyone who has been convicted of driving under the influence. An ignition interlock device is essentially a personal breathalyzer that is installed in a vehicle and is required to be blown into before the vehicle will start. If your blood-alcohol concentration is higher than allowed, your car will not turn on. First-time offenders will face an ignition interlock in their vehicle for six months.
Following a charge of driving under the influence, the best choice you can make is to retain an attorney who is experienced in defending drunk driving cases. Your attorney may be able to assert legal defenses which could work in your favor or--in some cases--result in a dismissal of your charges.
One of the most widely-utilized defenses in a DUI case is that the arresting officer violated the Fourth Amendment during your traffic stop. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the rights of those in the country by prohibiting an officer from conducting an unreasonable search or seizure. With regard to a DUI charge, in order for an officer to pull you over for a traffic stop, the officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you were committing a crime. Pulling someone over for no reason can result in a violation of that person's Fourth Amendment rights.
If you submitted to alcohol testing and failed the test, your attorney may also be able to argue that there was some extenuating circumstance which caused you to fail the test rather than being under the influence at the time of the test. If the breathalyzer machine which caused the arresting officer to charge you with DUI was negligently maintained or the breathalyzer test was administered by someone who was not properly trained to give the test, for example, the results of the test might be inaccurate. Field sobriety tests aren't always accurate indicators of intoxication, either; you may have a medical condition which causes you to fail one of the elements of the field sobriety test.
Facing a DUI Charge? James Peters Can Help
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in the state of Maryland, it's important to seek the help of a seasoned criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help defend against your charge. DUI convictions carry hefty punishments that can have a serious impact on your life. Don't try to face a DUI charge on your own; James Peters is ready to fight on your behalf to receive as favorable of an outcome as possible. To schedule a consultation to discuss your charge, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (301) 795-8272 today.