DUI the statutory laws and Supreme Court decisions concerning “drunk driving” have changed significantly over recent years. Today, a person arrested in Maryland for driving under the influence of alcohol (“DUI” or “DWI”) faces complicated procedures and potentially severe punishment.
The consequences of these arrests can have a lasting effect on an individual’s life and livelihood long after the court sentences have been fulfilled and the fines have been paid. While the safety of those traveling on our highways is of the utmost importance, what about the rights of those individuals that are wrongly accused of driving under the influence? It’s an unfortunate reality that in many instances the tactics and devices which law enforcement officers use to determine if an individual is intoxicated are wildly inaccurate. The end result; false accusations are made — and arrests take place that never should have.
After you are initially stopped by the police, you will be asked incriminating questions without any Miranda advisement of rights and without any immediate right to consult with an attorney. You will then be subjected to a series of “field sobriety tests” under physically and emotionally difficult conditions — tests which may be nearly impossible for most people to satisfactorily perform under the best of circumstances. You may then be given a hand-held preliminary breath test (“PBT”).
After being arrested, you will be requested to submit to breath or blood testing, usually at the police station — and, again, without any right to speak with a NH criminal defense attorney. Contrary to popular belief, the Breathalyzer used by the police are not always accurate and many officers administering them are unfamiliar with the proper procedures. If you refuse, or if the police feel you are not cooperating to their satisfaction, a blood test is often requested. If the breath test is .08% or over, or if there is a blood sample withdrawn or a refusal reported, the police may confiscate your license and issue you a notice of suspension and a 30-day temporary license.
After being charged with DWI in Maryland, you now face two battles. First, you must deal with a criminal prosecution in state court. If the breath or blood test was .08% or over, you will also be charged with the so-called “per se” offense, driving with .08% or over blood-alcohol.
Second, you must deal with a potential administrative license suspension from the Maryland Division of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”). If the breath test was over .08%, or over .02% if under the age of 21, or if there was a blood sample withdrawn or a refusal reported, the police will confiscate your license and issue you a notice of suspension and 30-day temporary license. A first offense DWI/DUI involves a potential six-month suspension from the DMV; a refusal or a second offense within ten years of a prior conviction triggers a potential two-year suspension.
These suspensions may be successfully contested by an experienced DWI/DUI attorney in Maryland; but, it is critical that you or, preferably, your attorney, contact the DMV immediately to request a hearing. The importance of this cannot be overstated; absent a timely request, there will be no hearing and the suspension will automatically take effect 30 days after the arrest or results of the blood test.