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Maryland DUI Jury Trial

Choosing between a jury trial or a bench trial could be crucial in determining the outcome of a DUI case. There are a number of differences between the two types of trials which lead to the same DUI case being tried in potentially different manners. Drunk driving defendants should speak with an experienced attorney to learn the differences between a Maryland DUI jury trial and a bench trial. Reach out to a knowledgeable attorney to learn your options and legal rights.

Difference Between a Bench Trial and a Jury Trial

The difference between a bench trial and a jury trial for DUI cases in Maryland lies in who is the trier of facts. In a bench trial, the judge is the sole trier of the case and acts alone. Alternatively, the jurors do so in a jury trial. Each juror is part of the whole and they must act in unison to come up with the required unanimous decision. If they cannot, even if there is just one holdout, it is a hung jury and the result is a mistrial. It should also be noted that even in a jury trial, the judge still determines questions of law.

Choosing Between a Bench Trial or a Jury Trial

Whether a Maryland DUI attorney would suggest a bench trial over a jury trial, or vice versa, depends on the main issues of the case. In cases where the issues are very technical and the defense’s case rests on a subtle or complicated legal issue or construction of the law, it may be better to choose a judge over the jury. The judge is more reliably able to tease out any legal distinctions and how they apply to the facts in a case. If the facts are unsympathetic to the defendant, this also might be a reason to choose a judge since they tend to look past immaterial issues and focus on the legal matters that are relevant to the allegation.

A jury is more likely to be swayed by emotion or other reactions to information that has no bearing on the legal questions. A jury may also be preferable if:

  • It is a situation in which the accused individual is a very sympathetic person
  • The allegations are not all that bad and the defendant is cooperating with the police
  • There was no accident
  • No one was injured
  • The legal issues are not strong

In certain cases, the jury may be better than a judge in upholding the reasonable doubt standard.

Common Traits to Look For in a Case When Choosing a Jury

Certain jurisdictions in Maryland might motivate an attorney to suggest choosing a jury over a judge. If law enforcement is harassing the defendant or behaving unprofessionally, especially if there is a body-worn camera or cruiser cam video footage of that behavior, this might be enough to sway a jury even in the face of evidence that the person was driving under the influence. While this could be the main issue at trial in some jurisdictions, it would not be so in others. Typically, it is better to try a case before a jury if the accused person is sympathetic or there are factors that have no bearing on the legal argument or the material facts.

Potential Benefits and Disadvantages of a Jury Trial for DUI Cases


For a defense attorney, the potential benefits of a jury trial for a DUI case include an expansion of the breadth of arguments they can make. With a judge, an attorney would stick with the legal arguments and relevant information. With a jury, the attorney may go beyond such restrictions to use other information and try to influence their verdict.


Conversely, one of the biggest arguments that a defense attorney may have against a jury trial in a DUI case is the random selection of people from the community to serve on the jury. They typically will have no legal training and no understanding of the law or legal issues. This means that it might be up to the attorneys in the case to educate them on relevant law.

Individuals should note that there is no guarantee that jurors will understand what is put before them. They might misinterpret certain things and make false assumptions. Since this could go either way, a jury might be unpredictable.

Speak With an Accomplished Attorney About Maryland DUI Jury Trials

While facing a DUI charge could be intimidating, there may be ways you could build a defense case to preserve your name and reputation. It may be crucial to hire a Maryland attorney who has experience with drunk driving cases to understand the benefits of a Maryland DUI jury trial. Let a hard-working attorney champion your defense case.

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