Maryland DUI Lawyer
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When a person is stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol, a case essentially begins. While somebody might think that because they gave a particular breath test, or they believe that they were above a certain level, that they automatically don't have a defense available to them. This is extremely untrue. When I look at a DUI case, I usually look at that case like I'm looking at a ladder. I'm trying to see all of the steps that took place during the course of the case and how it's going to be prosecuted by the state's Attorney's office. When a state's Attorney is attempting to prosecute a DUI case, they need to look at that ladder and look at each step that the officer performed during the course of the case to determine what information is admissible.
DUI cases typically start with a vehicle being stopped for one reason or another. This is perhaps the most important part of the entire DUI investigation. If an officer is unable to later explain why he stopped a person's vehicle, any information that came after that vehicle was stopped is usually considered inadmissible and the state's case collapses.
Let's assume for a moment that an officer is able to prove that the stop was legitimate. The next step in a DUI case is for the officer to approach a person and determine whether or not the basis for the stop was in fact legitimate. After interviewing the individual who is driving, the officer may smell an odor of alcohol, may hear slurred speech, may see bloodshot or watery eyes and determine that it's appropriate to ask a person out of a vehicle. If the officer doesn't see these things, he must let the person go.
Again, let's assume that the officer did see that a person had slurred speech or some indication that that driver was in fact consuming alcohol on that particular occasion. Usually, the officer then asks a person to step out of the vehicle to begin doing field sobriety tests. Now, everything that the officer did up to this point is what I would consider based on his subjective belief. An officer certainly can't prove that you were driving under the influence of alcohol just based on the reason that he stopped you and perhaps won't even be able to prove it based on just an odor of alcohol or slurred speech.
He needs to come up with some objective standard which will actually constitute probable cause to place you under arrest. That objective standard is usually done by administering field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are standardized, which means that they are mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to follow particular instructions. The officer has to give an individual those instructions in exact accordance with the standards that are dictated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Any faltering of those standards could yield those field sobriety tests inadmissible.
Again, let's assume that the officer is giving field sobriety tests properly and the officer has determined that there was probable cause to place a person under arrest. Once that person is at the station and is offered a chemical breath test, the officer has to go over an advice of rights form with that individual so the person knows that they are not under an obligation in the state of Maryland to submit to a chemical breath test. This differs from many other states in the United States of America where not taking a chemical breath test can land you in jail. In Maryland there are no criminal penalties for refusing a chemical breath test, but there may be some collateral consequences at the Motor Vehicle Administration for your Maryland driver's license.
If a person chooses to take that chemical breath test, it will be admissible in court only if all of the original steps of that ladder - the stop, the second stop, the standardized field sobriety tests, and appropriate probable cause to arrest - have been established by the police officer and the prosecuting attorney in court.
Driving under the influence of alcohol can carry significant penalties; up to 12 months in jail, up to 12 points on your driving record, and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, the companion charge of driving while impaired by alcohol can carry up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and eight points on your driving record.
It's important to work with an experienced Maryland DUI attorney who is aware of how to mitigate some of these penalties. An attorney can be effective in assisting a person avoid jail time altogether -- and points on their driving record -- and in significantly reducing the fines associated with a case.
If you are arrested for driving under the influence in Maryland finding a DUI lawyer who is not only well-qualified, but who has the advantage of local insight and knowledge of the state bench and prosecutors, should be your highest priority. Starting from the moment of your traffic stop, you will be confronted with a myriad of important decisions, all with the potential to negatively impact your rights and your defense. These are decisions that require keen legal insight and they should not be taken lightly or alone. Drunk driving offenses are prosecuted aggressively in Maryland, and a conviction on a even a first time offense can result in jail time. Statistics show that those who have engaged the legal advice of an attorney have a much stronger probability for a successful outcome in their case.
That can run the gamut from having your charges dropped or a jury or courtroom acquittal; to having your charges reduced and, subsequently, seeing a reduction in the penalties you may face. Few of us can afford to lose our driving privileges, or to spend our time fighting a lengthy legal battle alone. With the aid of a dedicated Maryland DUI attorney you can streamline the process, and rest assured that you have someone who is focused on your best interests. It’s easy to make the mistake of having one too many drinks and getting behind the wheel. Don’t compound your honest error by failing to secure sound legal representation.
Maryland DUI Lawyer Profiles
David Benowitz is a founding partner of Price Benowitz and has built an exemplary reputation handling DUI cases in the state of Maryland. He has a perfect 10/10 rating on AVVO, has been named one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association and is AV rated by Martindale Hubbell. In addition to his work as an attorney, Mr. Benowitz is a professorial Lecturer in Law at the George Washington University Law School as well as a faculty member of the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop. He defends every client with the same level of fervor, and he is not afraid to take a case to trial to fight for a positive result on your behalf.
Kush Arora has dedicated his life to fighting on behalf of his clients in DUI and criminal cases in the state of Maryland, where he has almost a decade of experience. He will thoroughly investigate all options in his pursuit of a positive result, and he will make sure that you are as comfortable as you can be throughout a typically difficult process.
The best DUI lawyers in Maryland will not only have experience in criminal defense; they will also have specific education and training in the law, science, and procedures pertaining to drunk driving and other alcohol related offenses. Our attorneys are extensively trained in all aspects of DUI defense, from field sobriety testing to chemical blood analysis. Our attorneys bring specific knowledge that makes them uniquely qualified to handle even the most difficult cases. In addition to extensive trial experience, some of the qualifications of our attorneys include:
- Membership in the National College for DUI Defense
- Prosecuting background
- Trainer for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
- Former Administrative Law Judge presiding over DUI related license suspensions
- Training in the calibration and maintenance of breathalyzer equipment
The experience and training of our Maryland DUI lawyers give them the ability to see your case from all angles, allowing for every opportunity for a successful defense. That includes going back to the beginning by examining the circumstances of the DUI stop, whether you were pulled over by a police officer or traveling through a DUI checkpoint, and working our way forward to examine every aspect of the case. Even seemingly small factors such as the reading of the Miranda Rights can make or break a DUI Case. We are extremely passionate about getting a positive result in every case we handle, and we will work tirelessly until the final resolution of your case. Our knowledge and experience gives us a solid foundation for defense, but it is our desire to help our clients that is truly our most valuable characteristic. Our attorneys understand that it’s more often than not a simple error or lapse in judgment that leads to a DUI arrest, and they also understand the emotional turmoil such an arrest and charge can bring. They will work aggressively on your behalf, while remaining sensitive to your needs and feelings in what can be an extremely stressful and upsetting period. This includes helping with both the criminal and MVA proceedings.
Our firm has attorneys ready to serve you throughout the state of Maryland. And with our numerous office locations, we provide convenient access to an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer near you. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about DUI charges and penalties in Maryland, in addition to tips on how to look for the right attorney for you.
Driving Under The Influence
Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI) are criminal charges that are punishable by fines, jail, probation, suspension of driving privileges, and other penalties that restrict your freedom and impact your finances and daily life. A conviction for DUI in Maryland brings a criminal record that can have a negative effect on your ability to find or keep employment, and can also bring a fair amount of social stigma and embarrassment. Learn more about DUI penalties, like ignition interlock devices and how a DUI charge or conviction could affect your security clearance or immigration status.
A DUI conviction has both legal and administrative consequences. In fact, the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) suspends your driver’s license almost immediately upon a DUI arrest in Maryland, even before you are brought before a judge or found guilty of a crime. If you do not request a hearing with the MVA within ten days of your arrest, your license suspension will remain in effect until your trial. Our legal team can also represent you with MVA matters to help you meet all of the important deadlines to protect your rights and your driving privileges all while working to east the impact such a charge can bring.
Even a single DUI conviction may result in life-altering penalties. The maximum penalties for a first time driving under the influence conviction is up to one year in prison, $1,000 in fines, and 12 points on your driving record. With a second DUI the jail time and the fine double to 2 years and $2,000 respectively. These penalties continue to escalate as convictions pile up. So not only does a single DUI conviction carry fairly significant penalties, it sets you up for increased penalties down the line. If you have been pulled over and you believe that you might eventually be charged, or if you have already been formally charged and you are concerned about the effects these penalties can have on your life, our Maryland-based DUI attorneys will do everything they can to help you and will have the advantage of local knowledge and relationships on their side when facing off against judges and prosecutors.
Driving While Impaired
Though DWI carries less severe penalties upon conviction than its more common counterpart of driving under the influence, or DUI, it also is charge that should not be taken lightly. A first time driving while impaired charge will carry a maximum penalty of two months in prison and $500 in fines. You could also be assessed eight points against your driving record and you could face suspension of your driving privileges. As is the case with DUI charges, a second DWI conviction brings a much more severe prison term of one year, and another $500 fine. A dedicated Maryland DWI attorney will know the best plan of action to take to fight these charges and potential penalties.
Montgomery County is home to some of the busiest roads in all of Maryland; a section of the Capital Beltway, which is typically filled with commuter traffic and also the southernmost part of I-270. During rush hour, the entrance to I-270 and the 270 Spur are typically extremely crowded. As a result, the presence of drunk drivers becomes even more dangerous. Citizens of towns like Rockville, Silver Spring, Bethesda, and Gaithersburg travel these busy streets every day, and if an extended commute is part of your everyday schedule, you can’t afford to have your driving privileges compromised. Most DUI cases in Montgomery County are heard at the County’s district court along Jefferson Boulevard in Rockville.
Because of its location right between Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Howard, particularly the stretch of I-95 that runs through the Eastern part of the County, sees a lot of regular travel on a daily basis. Despite being an independent city and not technically part of the County, many of the residents of Columbia travel through the County streets to get to and from work. Populated areas like Ellicott City and Glenwood also contribute to the amount of traffic on those streets every day. This is also a major commuter area, and losing the ability to drive with a DUI arrest could be a major issue. Our attorneys are ready to represent clients at the major County courthouses on Court Avenue in Ellicott City, where most drunk driving trials will be held.
Prince George’s County sees a lot of driving under the influence arrests every year, in part because it is home to the University of Maryland and also the home of the Washington Redskins. These are both areas where drunk driving happens quite frequently, and as a result, police are constantly on the lookout for perpetrators. If you are a student who is arrested for a DUI, you risk losing your educational opportunities as well as the standard legal consequences. Prince George’s County is also home to many of the larger suburbs of Washington D.C. like Bowie, Greenbelt and Laurel. That makes it crucial for you to contact an attorney who has experience representing clients in a similar situation, and who will be able to fight for a positive result in your case. Cases will typically be heard at the district court houses either on Rhode Island Avenue in Hyattsville or on Main Street in Upper Marlboro.
Baltimore is both a County and an independent city in Maryland. The county is home to a large portion of the highly crowded Baltimore Beltway, while the city itself sees a lot of traffic every day because of the amount of people that live and work there. There are also Ravens and Orioles games, which bring thousands of new, possibly intoxicated, people to the city whenever there is a game.Hence, driving under the influence and driving while impaired are two charges the county and city both take extremely seriously. Our attorneys will treat your case with equal measure, and will make sure you are being represented with the passion and ability that you deserve.
Being charged with DUI in Maryland can be overwhelming, stressful, and intimidating, whether you are charged with a first offense or subsequent offenses. The attorneys at Price Benowitz are committed to providing the best DUI defense possible and can help alleviate some of the associated stress by offering sound legal advice, guiding you through the complicated criminal justice process, and mounting an aggressive defense. For a free case evaluation by a knowledgeable DUI lawyer in the Baltimore area, call (410) 734-2675.
Additional Maryland Criminal Resources
You might be confused by some of the words and abbreviations you’ve been hearing and wondering what the difference is between a DUI and DWI, or a breathalyzer and intoxylizer. Read our page with definitions to some of the commonly used DUI terms in Maryland.
The State of Maryland is very tough on underage drinking. While the law is more strict when it comes to drinking and driving for minors, additional penalties are possible if the consumed alcohol was bought using a fake ID. Aside from the court appearances and MVA hearing, Kush Arora can also handle administrative hearings when colleges prosecute students for alcohol violations after a DUI arrest.
Kush Arora in His Own Words
Below are several links to question-and-answer pages excerpted from an interview with Kush Arora in which he discusses various aspects of DUI cases in Maryland.
- On Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
- On Chemical Breath and Blood Tests
- On Sobriety Test Refusal
- On Ignition Interlock and Restricted Licenses
- On DUI Case Defense