Owing to the potentially dire outcomes stemming from drunk driving, the Maryland legislature has decided to treat offenses within this realm of conduct with profound seriousness. As a result, those found guilty of driving while intoxicated are vulnerable to sentences that include long-term incarceration, costly fines and other challenges that can last a lifetime. If you are facing charges of this nature, the help of a Maryland DUI lawyer is critical in the fight for your future. Contact a skilled criminal attorney as soon as possible.
Broadly speaking, as provided by the Maryland Transportation Code, there are two categories of conduct related to drinking and driving, with sanctions of varying severity applicable to each. Driving under the influence (DUI) is an offense that is committed whenever a motorist operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. A charge of driving while impaired (DWI), however, can be lodged when a motorist has a BAC of between .06 and .08.
Because the potential consequences of operation while intoxicated to both drivers and other motorists are so profound, Maryland imposes substantial penalties on those convicted of such offenses. Even a first offense DUI can bring up to one year in jail and a costly fine, with repeat offenses bringing even harsher sanctions.
Driving While Impaired is a lesser category of impaired driving in Maryland characterized by operating with a lower BAC than that which can yield a DUI charge, but conviction of DWI can still bring significant consequences that can negatively impact lives well into the future.
As of 2016, the Maryland legislature passed the Drunk Driving Reduction Act, also referred to as Noah’s Law, which provides for the mandatory use of ignition interlock devices on the vehicles of those who fail police breathalyzer tests. Motorists who refuse to submit to such testing also face nine months of mandatory interlock use or a suspension of their license to drive. Those convicted of DUI or DWI are potentially subject to mandatory interlock installations as well.
Anyone facing a drunk driving charge will likely feel intimidated by the prospect of serious punishment and uncertain about where to turn. The good news is that there are often numerous defense strategies that can serve to lessen or perhaps even eliminate the chances that onerous penalties will be imposed.
A Maryland DUI lawyer will first examine the facts of the case to determine whether the initial traffic stop giving rise to a drunk driving charge was constitutionally valid. If it can be demonstrated that there was no reasonable suspicion for the stop, evidence gleaned from it may be excluded from use in the case.
It is also often fruitful to attack the validity of field sobriety testing methods as a means of securing a reduction or dismissal of charges. Poor lighting, improper administration of tests, uneven road conditions and a driver’s preexisting health conditions are all factors that may prove useful in a legal defense.
Because evidence of a defendant’s BAC is so critical to the prosecution’s ability to secure a conviction, blood and breath test results are often the linchpin of a case. However, skilled defense attorneys are regularly able to challenge these reports by arguing that the devices used to administer the tests were faulty, poorly calibrated or outdated.
They may also successfully argue that personnel performing blood draws were not properly trained or the samples at issue were tainted or improperly handled in some way, casting serious doubt on their accuracy. A conviction on a drunk driving charge can have ripple effects that last for years. They can result in job loss, financial distress, damage to personal prospects and revocation of licenses. As such, there is no substitute for obtaining the aggressive advocacy a Maryland DUI lawyer can provide.
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