Maryland DUI: There is no simple answer to beating a Maryland DUI
A Maryland DUI is a very complicated complicated crime. There are lawyers across the country who devote their entire practice to DUI defense, such as this fine Maryland Lawyer who literally wrote a book on Maryland DUI (yes I have a copy). Some Maryland Lawyers may tell you they can get your charges dismissed at the first consultation (once you pay their fee). Some Maryland Lawyers scare you by saying that you are going to go to jail forever (to scare you into paying their fee). Frankly, if you hear either of those things you should strongly consider packing your things up and leaving the consult because your lawyer has just lied to you. The reality is that any Maryland Lawyer worth their salt will tell you “likely” outcomes based upon the facts, your history, and the jurisdiction in which you are charged; but generally will need more information from the state, the court, and the client before making such pronouncements.
What a Police Officer looks for (or, how to avoid a Maryland DUI)
One thing I can tell you is that it is possible to avoid a Maryland DUI. There are a few tips, pointers, and concepts to keep in mind. Mainly it’s that police officers across Maryland have a few good”tells” (or giveaways) to help you avoid getting a Maryland DUI in the first place. They can be summarized into a few areas. The first is time. The second is the place. And the third is signals.
- Time – If you are on a Maryland roadway after midnight, a police officer automatically thinks your are committing a Maryland DUI. As a former prosecutor, MADD and other organizations put together statistics for law enforcement and judges such as this. (saying that 77% of fatal crashes that occur between midnight and 3AM are because of drunk drivers)
- What it means – if you are pulled over, for any reason, between 11PM and 3AM – in the Officer’s mind, you’re guilty. Don’t bother arguing or making excuses (even if you are telling the truth) because the officer has made up his or her mind and you’re not going home, you’re going to jail. The more you try to argue, the more the Officer will pile it on as evidence of guilt.
- Baltimore City: Canton, Fed Hill, and Power Plant.
- Baltimore County: downtown Towson, White Marsh Mall, and Owings Mills restaurant park.
- Howard County: Maple Lawn or downtown Ellicott City.
- Harford County: downtown Bel Air & Rt. 24.
- What it means – if you are pulled over, for any reason, in those areas between 11PM and 3AM – in the Officer’s mind, you’re guilty. See above
- What it means– Well, actually this one is a bright spot. Often Police officers, in their zeal to arrest drunk drivers and pump up their Maryland DUI arrest stats, fail to comply with the dictates of the law when it comes to traffic stops.
- For example, if there aren’t any other cars in your general vicinity, according to Maryland traffic laws, you don’t need to use a turn signal when making a legal turn. Many police don’t know this or don’t care and will lose a suppression motion because of their ignorance of the law when challenged by a competent Maryland Lawyer. While it doesn’t get you away from the arrest, it might help have your case thrown out of court.
Maryland DUI: The bottom line
As a former prosecutor, I used to regularly see cases come across my desk where an officer would write a report saying that the defendant was driving after midnight, in a “high DUI area” near some bars, and failed to use a turn signal. They would swear under oath that the defendant was completely inebriated, smashed, crocked, or “in the officer’s expert opinion under the influence of alcohol.” But after all, was said and done, the BAC was at just around .08. That’s called a disconnect (something for a later blog post). The bottom line is once you are in an officer’s sights, you’re guilty in his mind. The best advice I can provide to avoid a Maryland DUI is to avoid the time, the places, and the signals that are the officer’s tells. If you can’t read the tells, at least keep your Maryland lawyer’s number handy.