In this article, you will discover:
- The difference between DUI and DWI in Maryland.
- When to avoid Field Sobriety Tests.
- How first-time DUI offenders avoid conviction and points.
How Is DUI Defined In Maryland?
Driving under the influence (DUI) means driving while influenced by alcohol in some way. You may swerve more, have trouble staying in your lane, or drive too slowly or too fast. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a little different. There needs to be a higher level of intoxication to prove DWI. DUI and DWI in Maryland are rather synonymous as a general topic, but they’re different when it comes to charges.
If I’m Pulled Over For DUI In Prince George’s County, Should I Do The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests?
If you’re truly clean, just simply tired and haven’t had a drop of alcohol for the last 24 hours, you might consent to the standard field sobriety tests (SFTs). Maybe you just want to get yourself cleared and out of there. But, I don’t recall the last time I had a client take a DUI test and pass it, as they say—And I’ve had a lot of DUI cases.
Typically, the SFTs only give the officer a reason to arrest you because you didn’t do the test to their satisfaction. If you do have a drink, drive, and get pulled over. I would recommend declining the officer-advised SFTs. They’re not going to help you out.
If you do consent to the SFTs, you should share any issues you have that may affect your ability to complete the test. If you have any leg, vision, or balance problems, anything at all, tell the officer. This way, they’re aware you have an issue that could be the cause for a less-than-desirable walk-and-turn, a one-leg stand, or horizontal gaze nystagmus test. You can then hopefully explain it by saying, I told you I had knee surgery two months ago. Whatever the case may be, mention any impairments you may have if you do decide to do the SFT.
Do I Have To Give A Breath Or Blood Sample During A DUI Arrest In Prince George’s County?
You do not have to give a breath or blood sample during a DUI arrest, but you might want to. If you decline, the motor vehicle administration (MVA) can suspend your license for six months for refusal; not because of your blood alcohol content, but simply for refusing the test. You should factor this in before you make the decision.
If you are on the side of the road and asked to do a breath test or give a blood sample, the blood sample is possibly a safer choice. It’s a more involved process with getting a technician and the court’s involvement. The state has more to prove. You may want to for the blood sample over the breathalyzer.
If, however, you drank a lot and knew it, you might want to consider if taking a six-month suspension for refusal is better than having a judge know your exact blood alcohol content (BAC). DUIs stay on your driving record—they don’t go away. If you have a 0.22% BAC, that’s very high and bad to have on your record.
Time heals everything. If I were in that situation, I would refuse the test. By refusing the tests, the state can’t prove what your BAC was. It gives the state less proof to work with in court. If they don’t have a BAC number, they can’t prove what your level was.
What Are The Next Steps Everyone Charged With A DUI Should Take?
The first thing you should do if charged with a DUI is to contact an attorney. If I were to be called by someone charged in the past ten days, I would request an MVA hearing. If we do that within ten days of being stopped, then any suspensions imposed on you will not take effect until after the hearing. Otherwise, you’ll get suspended within 45 days automatically.
What Are The Penalties For A DUI Conviction In Maryland? What About My Driver’s License?
The penalties for a DUI conviction depend on your number of prior DUI convictions and which judge you get. Typically, for first-time DUIs in Maryland, you’re facing probation before a judgment (PBJ). With a PBJ, there is no conviction or points. There will be a fine, usually on the lower end of $100 to $500. You’ll likely be on unsupervised probation for six months to a year with several required conditions.
If you don’t get a PBJ, you’re looking at eight or twelve points and potential jail time, depending on the charge. For a first-time offense, there’s usually no jail time. The more DUIs you have, the greater the chance of serving time, from a few weekends to a few months. It depends on your specific situation, what judge you get, and what county you’re in.
Driver’s license suspensions are done at an MVA hearing. You face a suspension for a DUI if the hearing officer is satisfied you, in fact, drove while impaired or under the influence. They will also give you a suspension for refusing the breath test or a blood sample.
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