DUI Defense Attorney in Maryland
Getting a DUI in Maryland can have long-lasting consequences. Not only does driving under the influence of alcohol increase the chances of getting in a life-altering accident, but charges can include fines, imprisonment, and a criminal record.
If you’ve been pulled over on suspicion of DUI or DWI and received a breath, blood, urine, or saliva test to determine your alcohol or drug content, your first step should be to contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney can help you challenge the evidence against you (such as test results) and also challenge the grounds—or probable cause—for initially pulling you over. Your attorney in the process can argue for a lesser charge or for a diversion program.
If you’re facing a DUI charge in or around Silver Spring, Maryland, contact the legal team at Steven T. Greenblat, Attorney at Law. We have more than three decades of experience in defending the rights of individuals facing criminal charges, including DUIs and DWIs to clients throughout Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and the surrounding areas. We will represent you with compassion and understanding and fight for the best possible result.
Difference Between a DUI and a DWI
A DUI charge in Maryland is based on a blood alcohol content (BAC) test result of 0.08 percent or higher. With a BAC that high, the charge is considered per se, meaning no other evidence needs to be submitted, such as a failed field sobriety test.
A DWI charge is based on a BAC lower than 0.08 percent but higher than 0.05 percent. For a DWI, however, there must be additional evidence or signs of impairment, such as impaired reflexes, the smell of alcohol, or a failed field sobriety test.
Can You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?
A field sobriety test involves the officer running you through some physical tests. Three tests are usually employed:
One is the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, which requires you to follow an object with your eyes, such as a pen or even the officer’s finger. An involuntary jerking of the eyes can indicate you’ve lost control.
Another test is the walk-and-turn routine, in which you are asked to walk nine steps heel-to-toe and then turn around and do the same going the other way.
The final test is the one-leg stand test. This involves raising one leg six inches and standing still and erect on the other leg to show you’re not impaired.
Under Maryland’s implied consent standard used in issuing a driver’s license, you cannot refuse a breathalyzer test, but there are no penalties for refusing a field sobriety test. These tests are designed for people to fail, so it is not in your interest to agree to them. However, the officer may still administer a breath test or take you in for a chemical test. There are consequences for refusing a breath or chemical test. If you refuse a breath test, for instance, your driver’s license will likely be suspended for 120 days.
Also, it’s important to note that you don’t have to actually be driving your vehicle to be charged with a DUI or DWI. So long as you have “actual physical control” of your vehicle, you can be charged. This generally means that you have the keys to your vehicle in your possession. For instance, if you pull over to the side of the road to “sleep it off,” and you’re in the driver’s seat with the keys on your person or in the ignition, you can be brought in for a DUI/DWI.
Potential Penalties for DUI/DWI
A first-time DUI conviction or guilty plea carries with it the potential of one year’s imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, revocation of your driver’s license for up to six months, and 12 points added to your driving record. A DWI conviction has the potential for up to two months in jail, a fine of up to $500, a six-month driving suspension, and eight points on your driving record.
The points will stay on your driving record for three years and may result in sky-high insurance premiums, if not an outright cancellation of your policy.
When it comes to jail time and other penalties, a judge can allow the DUI/DWI defendant what is called probation before judgment (PBJ), which means the defendant will have to undergo alcohol treatment and perform community service. As a result, there will be no public criminal record, but police will still have access to see your PBJ.
A DUI/DWI criminal record is something to be avoided since it cannot be expunged, and your employer or potential employer will have access to it, making your professional life much more difficult.
Ignition Interlock Device Installation
If your BAC comes in at 0.15 percent or higher, or you are a repeat DUI/DWI offender, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a year or perhaps more. The IID samples your breath for BAC before starting your vehicle and will deny access if the legal limit is exceeded. It also periodically tests your breath while you’re driving. Also, it will be your responsibility to pay an IID installation fee but also a monthly operational fee.
While this can be costly and may feel frustrating, having an IID installed gives you the opportunity to obtain a restricted driver’s license if yours was suspended, and it ensures that you and others on the road are safe.
You always have the right to defend yourself after a charge. If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWI, get an attorney’s support to fight it. Even breath and blood tests can be challenged.
A breathalyzer needs to be constantly calibrated, and authorities administering the tests must follow prescribed procedures.
As for blood or other chemical tests, there are several possible defenses. For example, the chain of custody can be challenged. An attorney can help you fight against the process, such as making sure the sample truly was the defendant’s sample or if it was contaminated in the process. Also, officers need to have probable cause to arrest you. If you weren’t exhibiting signs of impairment, the officers may have had no reason to pull you over. In addition, you can seek a PBJ or diversion program to avoid the incident resulting in a criminal record.
DUI Defense Attorney in Silver Spring, Maryland
Fight for your rights. If you’re being accused of a DUI/DW in or around Silver Spring, Maryland, contact us immediately at Steven T. Greenblat, Attorney at Law. We’ll fight for your rights and for a better path forward.