Articles Posted in DUI

Generally, this blog discusses court cases where the accused person obtained a favorable result in the Appellate Court or the Supreme Court. L.B. from Baltimore was not one of those people. Nevertheless, we spotlight his case because his actions provide a list of “what not to do” in a traffic stop. These can only harm your position legally and make the task of your skillful Maryland criminal defense lawyer immensely more difficult to avoid a conviction and jail time.

L.B.’s legal troubles began when an officer with the Anne Arundel County Police pulled him over in Severn. The officer initially stopped the man for a non-working license plate light. This traffic violation is a minor one and carries only a small fine.

Once stopped, L.B. exited his car and told the officer he didn’t have his driver’s license. Driving without a license is a more serious offense, but still only a misdemeanor. It can trigger larger fines (up to $500) and as many as five points assessed on your license.

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If you are pulled over because the police suspect that you were driving drunk, you face an array of potential outcomes, and many of them are not good. Sometimes, though, the police may make procedural errors in the conduct of your investigation and/or arrest, and those errors may allow you to obtain a lesser punishment or to get the charges dropped entirely. If such an opportunity exists, a Maryland criminal defense lawyer knowledgeable about DUI and DWI law can help you put on the strongest possible defense.

There are actually multiple different ways in which a DUI arrest can go awry procedurally. J.D.’s case, while occurring outside Maryland, makes for a good illustration. J.D., while allegedly driving drunk, lost control of her Ford Mustang and hit another car. One of the passengers in that other car died. A state trooper allegedly noticed that J.D. smelled of alcohol, slurred her speech, had bloodshot eyes, and also was unable to perform field sobriety tests successfully.

Eight law enforcement officers responded to the crash scene, but none of them contacted either the “on-call” prosecuting attorney or a judge concerning obtaining a search warrant. Instead, a trooper took J.D. to a nearby hospital for an involuntary blood draw. (The driver had twice refused requests for a voluntary blood test.) The test result was .130 and was a key piece of evidence in her DUI manslaughter case, which resulted in a conviction.

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If you’re ever pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, this is a time when details (even small ones) can matter a great deal. What you do (or don’t do) and what the police officer does (or doesn’t do) can determine whether or not you’ll lose your driver’s license… or maybe whether or not you’ll go to jail. With so much on the line, don’t delay in contacting an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney about your case.

Maryland, like every other state, has what’s called “implied consent” laws. Because driving is a privilege and not a right, the state is free to say that you automatically consent to certain things when you seek and obtain a license to drive. One of those things to which you’ve implicitly consented is undergoing chemical tests when a law enforcement officer stops you on suspicion that you were driving drunk or high.

You still retain the right to refuse to undergo these things but, due to implied consent laws, the state MVA has the option to suspend your driving privileges based on that refusal. However, in order to punish you for refusing, the police first must complete some specific steps. First, the officer who stopped you for suspected DUI must sufficiently advise you of your rights. Then, the officer must give you the choice of either undergoing the chemical test or refusing (which would mean incurring penalties the MVA hands down.) As a recent Court of Appeals ruling has demonstrated, the first of these two steps is something where the police must act reasonably, making it an area where details matter significantly.

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Laws affecting criminal cases are continuously evolving, granting (and in some cases, limiting) certain rights. Some of these laws are intended to provide a person who has been convicted of a crime with rights they formerly did not have. The importance of staying abreast of the most current changes in the criminal law arena cannot be overstated. Anyone facing a criminal arrest or related charges must act quickly to prepare a defense. The most efficient way to do so is with the assistance of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney, someone who keeps track of the laws and how they affect criminal cases.

According to an recent article in the Maryland Reporter, as of this past October 1, 2015, several enacted Maryland laws will go into effect. They cover areas such as criminal expungement, DNA evidence, medical marijuana, and drunk driving. Knowing the intricacies of each law can help one to prepare an appropriate and useful defense. For example, one of the latest provisions, also known as Senate Bill 651, permits people who have been convicted of crimes to petition the court for expungement, if the act at the heart of the conviction is no longer a crime in Maryland. Expungement means that a person convicted of a crime would be able to “obliterate” it from their record.

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Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is far too common in Maryland and throughout the entire country. According to statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 1.5 million people are arrested for DUI in a given year. To put it another way, one out of every 121 licensed drivers was arrested for drunk driving last year. These are alarming statistics and not to be taken lightly. But it is important to keep in mind that a driver pulled over for DUI may be entitled to assert a defense to the manner in which the arrest took place. Every case is unique and rests on the facts surrounding the criminal arrest. If you are facing criminal charges, you are strongly encouraged to contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Every citizen has a constitutional right under the Fourth Amendment to be free from an illegal search and seizure. In a recent case, the driver alleged that police officers violated this right when, during an arrest for DUI, they searched his vehicle for alcohol containers but instead discovered narcotics. Here, an officer allegedly observed a driver (Efrain Taylor) driving at a high rate of speed, exceeding the limit, and then noticed him drive through a stop sign. The officer pulled over Taylor and allegedly saw that he showed signs of intoxication. He conducted a field sobriety test, determined that the tasks were not done successfully, and placed Taylor under arrest.

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Under Maryland law, crimes are divided into two groups:  misdemeanors and felonies. Most people know and understand that a felony is considered more serious and typically accompanied by a longer sentence. But a conviction of either type of crime can affect a person’s life in many ways. A common misdemeanor is driving while under the influence of alcohol.  A person may be arrested or charged with this crime based upon proof that the person was actually witnessed driving under the influence in the present tense, or based upon a “permitted inference” that he or she drove under the influence in the past tense. When the arrest, charge, or conviction is based on the latter situation, the question of proof can be a bit tricky. Anyone who is arrested or charged with driving under the influence is strongly encouraged to contact a Maryland criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling DUI cases.

In a recent Maryland case, Harding v. State, a jury convicted Todd Harding of driving under the influence, refusing to take a breath alcohol test, and driving with a suspended license. He appealed the conviction, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to send the case to the jury. Specifically, the appellant argued that the evidence was not legally sufficient as to whether he had actually been driving the pickup truck in which he was found. In this case, Baltimore City firefighters responded to a call reporting a vehicle accident with “people trapped.” According to the firefighters who were first on the scene, it appeared that the moving vehicle had jumped the curb and gone into the bushes as it came to a sudden stop. One firefighter in particular noted that the appellant was sitting at the driver’s wheel, slumped over, and seemed intoxicated.  He further observed that the truck was still running and had white smoke coming out of it.  An officer also witnessed the appellant get out of the car and stagger on the sidewalk. He refused a field sobriety test and was arrested and taken to the police station, where he refused a breath alcohol test.

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Many people have heard of the legal terms “misdemeanor” and “felony.” These are the two categories of criminal conduct under Maryland law. Misdemeanors are considered to be less serious than felonies, and they likewise typically carry a less severe penalty if a conviction results. Some of the more common misdemeanors include drunk driving, petty theft, vandalism, reckless driving, and minor drug possession. Despite differences between misdemeanors and felonies, if you are charged with either type of crime, you are encouraged to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your counsel will review the charges and prepare a proper defense under the circumstances.

Although drunk driving is typically considered a misdemeanor, the charges could be elevated to a felony if the impaired driver’s actions cause a person’s death. News stories concerning the recent tragic death of a cyclist in Maryland have been reported throughout the nation. According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, a Bishop from the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland was allegedly driving while intoxicated and sending text messages when she struck and killed a cyclist. The attorney for Baltimore City charged the Bishop with criminal negligent manslaughter, driving while impaired and texting, and leaving the scene of an accident. News reports have also suggested that the Bishop had pleaded guilty back in 2010 to driving under the influence. These are very serious criminal charges that must be addressed accordingly. Continue reading

In Maryland, it is illegal to obstruct or hinder a law enforcement officer trying to perform his duties. There are three kinds of obstruction: direct obstruction (physical resistance), passive direct obstruction (refusal to act as required), and positive indirect obstruction (where police officer are acting against other citizens and a citizen not involved prevents their ability to prevent or detect crime).

In a 2011 obstruction case, a motorcyclist and friend were traveling parallel in the southbound lane. Someone from the sheriff’s department saw one of them cross the double yellow line several times. He initiated a stop and ran the vehicle information to get the motorcycle’s registration information. He discovered the motorcycle belonged to someone named Titus. The motorcyclist presented him with a driver’s license from another state and a name different from Titus.

At some point the sheriff found Titus’s license had been suspended and revoked. The person driving the vehicle claimed that Titus was his roommate and he borrowed the vehicle. The sheriff smelled alcohol on his breath and saw his eyes were glassy. He asked the motorcyclist what he’d been doing that evening. The motorcyclist claimed he drank two beers earlier. A Standardized Field Sobriety Test was performed. The motorcyclist claimed to have bad ankles, but agreed to the test. Continue reading

Maryland, like most states, takes drunk driving seriously. While the penalties vary, even a driver’s license suspension can significantly affect one’s life. It can impact one’s ability to go to one’s place of business or school, pick up the kids or buy groceries.

In a recent case, an officer responding to an accident noted the odor of alcohol coming from the breath of the defendant. He arrested the defendant and asked him to take a blood test to determine blood alcohol concentration. The defendant was taken to the hospital.

At the hospital the defendant was warned of consequences for refusing a chemical test for alcohol. He agreed to take the test. The specimen of his blood was found to be more than twice the legal limit and it was certified by the law enforcement officer. He noted that the reasonable grounds for his belief of the defendant’s intoxication was that he responded to the accident and smelled the alcohol. Continue reading

Recently, our office represented a criminal defendant who had been charged with 8 traffic citations: driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), driving under the influence of alcohol per se (DUI per se), driving while intoxicated by alcohol (DWI), failure to reduce speed on a curve, negligent driving of a vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner endangering property, life, and person, failure to obey designated lane directions, unsafe lane change, and failure to control vehicle speed on highway to avoid a collision in Montgomery County, MD.

Our client had caused a very serious accident on the capital beltway when his vehicle crossed the center line, striking another vehicle with such a high rate of speed that the other vehicle flipped over and came to rest on its driver’s side.  Both occupants in that vehicle were injured as a result of the collision.  When police arrived at the scene, a breathalyzer test was conducted and our client blew a .16 – two times the legal limit.  He was facing up to one year in jail for each of the DUI citations, 60 days in jail for the DWI citation, and a total of $3,300.00 in possible fines.

When he came to our office, he was panicked, stressed, and worried not only about the severity of the citations, but also the potential immigration consequences a conviction would have.  He was 38 years old, originally from Peru, and had just recently become a legal permanent resident (green card holder).  He was scared to death that this one mistake would jeopardize everything he had worked so hard for.

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