When an officer pulls over someone, they need to have probable cause. If they do not, then they could be in violation of an alleged offenders civil rights. Thankfully, there are attorneys familiar with Maryland DUI stops. When you retain the services of an attorney, not only could you be proactive about your court date, you could also have someone who could fight for you in court. This is not to be undervalued if you suspect that your rights were violated at any point during your case.
A Maryland officer must have probable cause to believe that a person has committed a crime or driving infraction to effect the traffic stop. It could be a minor, technical traffic violation, but there must be something. The law enforcement looks for any excuse to pull someone over. Given that there are so many small rules and regulations under the traffic code, it is easy for an officer to find some excuse to make a traffic stop than for a driver to adhere to all.
Some of the more questionable basis for stops include obscured license plate and tag. A lot of times when driver’s air fresheners or something else is hanging from their rear view mirror, the person is pulled over for an obstructive view of the windshield. Even if there is not sufficient evidence to support a conviction to prove that the person committed these violations, that does not make the stop illegal. In this specific example, all the officer needs is probable cause to believe that the person’s view is obstructed. Even though after stopping the vehicle and conducting an “investigation” determining that the person’s view is not obstructed and there is not a basis to issue a ticket, as long as they could argue that there was probable cause to investigate this traffic violation, the stop is going to be lawful.
More obvious violations could lead to a traffic stop, like speeding and expired registration tag, but officers look for anything. If they suspect that tinted windows are tinted beyond the legally allowed limit, the officers could stop the vehicle.
Once the vehicle is pulled over to the side of the road or in a safe location, the officer would approach the driver, ask for the driver to roll down the window and turn off the engine, and ask a few questions. Officers ask if individuals know why they were stopped and where they were going. If there is any suspension that the person is driving under the influence or that the person is affected by alcohol, the stop could be based on the circumstances: where the person was pulled over, the time of the day or night, the location, and the manner in which the person was driving. The officer may already have a suspicion that the person may be under the influence of alcohol.
If the officer approaches, they are going to be making observations about the person and oftentimes they characterize these observations in a report in a certain way. They often describe the driver making an assertive movement, which is an ambiguous term. Most defense attorneys might argue that typical behaviors are characterized as an assertive movement. Most people know that they need to provide a license registration and proof of insurance to the police officer, so they may lean over and retrieve those items out of the glove compartment, the center console, or their pocket. This may be characterized as an assertive movement by the stopping officer.
Law enforcement officers are also going to be making physical observations about the person and arresting them for a drinking and driving infraction. They would likely highlight things like the bloodshot or red eyes of the driver, a vacant expression, slurred speech, or fumbling with their hands. Those are common descriptors that seem to be universally applied to everyone who ends up being charged with a DUI. Once the law enforcement engages the driver, they ask a few questions. Usually they ask if the person has been drinking. If the person admits or says that they have been drinking alcohol, they usually ask how much, when, where, and under what circumstances. They also may ask some other information to get more background about the driver.
If the officer has probable cause to suspect that the driver is either impaired by alcohol or under the influence, they would probably ask the person to step out of the vehicle so they could conduct standardized field sobriety tests during the stop. The law requires that they have probable cause to suspect that there is alcohol impairment to remove the person from the vehicle and conduct these tests. These are standardized tests that are promulgated by the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration. They are designed to detect the presence of alcohol and level of impairment. They include the gaze nystagmus test that detects the presence of alcohol in the person’s system, a walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test, which is designed to detect motor skill impairment. However, these tests are not flawless and could be challenged in court with the help of a DUI attorney in Maryland.
It is all too often that mistakes happen. When mistakes include a DUI, it is critical that alleged offenders do everything in their power to demonstrate to the court that their choice to drink and drive was a one-time mishap and that they are willing to do what needs to be done to set things right. However, sometimes proactive measures are not enough, and cases go to trial. When this happens, it is important to have an attorney on your side who could deconstruct Maryland DUI stops in court and ensure that your rights have been maintained all throughout your case. To do this, you first need to contact an attorney. Call today for a confidential case evaluation.
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