A DUI is a serious offense and getting pulled over for a DWI or DUI in Maryland can be a terrifying experience. If this happens to you, it’s important that you understand your rights. Even though this may not prevent the authorities from charging you with a crime, it could provide you with a viable defense if they end up charging you.
From the time you see the flashing lights in your rearview mirror until your case is complete, everything you say and do matters. Even a first-time DUI conviction in Maryland can carry harsh penalties that include heavy fines, jail time, probation, and suspension of your driving privileges. Here are some important tips if you’re facing DUI charges in Maryland.
When You are Pulled Over for DUI
It’s a dreadful feeling to be driving down the road and suddenly see blue flashing lights in your rearview mirror. This is especially true if you’ve had a few drinks before getting behind the wheel or have some other circumstances that might make you vulnerable to a DUI arrest. When you see those lights, there are several things you can do avoid making your situation worse:
Remain calm. Being pulled over for DUI can be scary but losing your composure can only make matters worse and even make you appear impaired. Instead, make every effort to control your emotions throughout the experience.
Be polite. It’s always a good idea to be polite to the police since being rude is probably the quickest route to wearing a pair of handcuffs. Give the officer the information they ask for (license and registration) when they ask for it. But avoid giving them any other details.
Stay on guard. The police are watching every move you make and might be recording you as well. You have the right to remain silent and do not have to answer questions about where you have been, where you were going, or how much you have had to drink.
Roadside tests. In Maryland, you are not required to participate in field sobriety tests or submit to a roadside breathalyzer test. These tests are subjective at best, and your refusal to submit to them cannot be held against you in court. This does not mean, however, that you won’t be arrested for DUI.
At the Police Station
If the police decide that they have probable cause at the DUI stop, they’ll arrest you for DUI and take you to the police station. Since Maryland is an implied consent state, you are required take a chemical test upon arrest, or there will be additional penalties.If the police have fully advised you of the consequences regarding taking a breath test, your refusal to take the test will result in a 270-day suspension. If you take the breath test and the result is under .15, your suspension is 180 days, but you will be eligible for a restricted license that allows you to drive to and from work and/or school and to and from any alcohol education program you are taking. If you take the test and the result is over .15 you also receive a 180-day suspension, but you are ineligible for a restricted license. The best thing to do when arrested for a DUI is to request to call an attorney for assistance in determining whether to take the breath test or not.
Remain cooperative, but don’t give the officers any information other than what is required. Once you are released, you will have some additional work to do to protect your rights.
Just After Your Arrest
One of the first things you should do after your arrest, while it is fresh in your mind, is to write down everything that happened. This includes the location of the stop, what was said by yourself and the officers, and any other details you can remember. If there was someone else in the vehicle with you, ask them for their assistance.
If the police issue you an Officer’s Certification and Order of Suspension when you were arrested, you have 30 days from your arrest date to request a hearing with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) in writing. This hearing is administrative and completely separate from your criminal case and there is a $150 fee you must enclose with your hearing request.
Understand the Gravity of Your Situation
The penalties for a first-time DUI conviction in Maryland can create havoc in your life. If you are a repeat offender, the state will pursue even more severe fines and jail time. For these reasons alone, it is imperative that you make contacting an experienced Maryland DUI attorney one of your top priorities after your arrest.
Jonathan Fellner, Attorney at Law, specializes in helping clients accused of DUI throughout Maryland. A DUI is never something that you want to leave to chance. Contact Jonathan today at 301-309-2000 to learn more about how he can help you build a strong defense for your case.