May 23, 2009

Maryland DUI: Deplorable & Shocking Police Behavior

Regarding bogus DUI arrests in Maryland, I have had clients tell me about the nefarious behavior of officers for years, however I have never witnessed the behavior personally, until last night. On Friday, May 22nd at 10:50 p.m. I left Chilly's Restaurant on Route 32 and Londontown Blvd in Carroll County, Maryland, with my fiancee and her mother. I was lawfully sitting at the red light waiting to turn onto Route 32 North. At that time a female State Trooper (didn't get her car number, wish I had) drove past the intersection where I was waiting on the light and proceeded northbound towards Finksburg. The traffic was light at this hour as I was the only car at the intersection- mind you, just sitting there. After the trooper past me the light changed and I pulled onto 32 northbound as well.

At the next traffic signal, with the trooper several hundred yards in front of me, she strangely turned right and pulled into an empty parking lot of the medical facility, which I observed. Figuring she was up to no good I watched her. She then turned around and pulled out and began to follow. me. I'm thinking, well maybe she got a call, maybe she is not being evil, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and executed a right turn onto a small street to see what she would do- mind you there have been zero traffic infractions as she just passed me at a red light.

I execute my right turn and what do you know, she executes a right turn behind my vehicle. This is unbelievable! I have done nothing and she is following me around hoping that I will screw up so she can pull me over. Getting madder by the moment, I pull into a private driveway and she slowly drives past my vehicle. I turn around in the driveway and wait a few minutes and what do you know, this female trooper with nothing better to do turned around again and drives past my position on the driveway and keeps going back out to route 32.

I need to travel down 32 to go home so I figure I'll see her again. I pull onto route 32 and a few seconds later, boom, there are the flashing emergency lights of the Maryland State Trooper. However, they weren't for me! Seems while she was on the side of the road "baiting" her next poor unsuspecting victim (hoping it to be me I gather), she got some other victim. I drove past her, went home and decided to put the word out.

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May 22, 2009

The Breathilizer Gizmo

This is a guest author contribution regarding Breathalyzer Machines : Maryland DUI Lawyer Blog.

3 Ways Breathalyzers can be Incorrect

Many BAC readings can be incorrect at the time you are tested following a DUI arrest, with the reading being as much as 23 percent higher than it should be due to inaccurate breathalyzer testing. There are a variety of reasons for these problems tracing back to the short comings of the machine design. A growing number of states across the country have begun to pull the black curtain back and look behind the rhetoric of the manufactures, including requiring the source code for the software that runs the machines; a growing number of courts are finding the truth regarding these machines and suppressing BAC results. The following are a few basic problems to look for.

Mouth Alcohol

Mouth alcohol can be caused for a variety of reasons including eating bread, certain medical conditions to burping or GERD. All of these have been shown to significantly raise BAC levels. If mouth alcohol has not been absorbed it can cause the instrument to yield an artificially high BAC number. It is very difficult for breathalyzers to determine where the source of alcohol in the mouth is coming from, and it makes a significant difference if the alcohol in the exhaled air is coming from the lungs or from the mouth and throat; the computer in the gizmo assumes that all the air it is analyzing is coming directly from the lungs, the alveolar air. This is problematic in mouth alcohol cases or oral hygiene products such as Listerine: the computer analyzes the exhaled air, but when the air passes through the mouth, it absorbs the alcohol particles from the mouthwash and leads to an artificially high BAC level which will then be used against you in court.

Homeostatic Variables

While incorrect alcohol readings secondary to mouth alcohol is a significant problem with breathalyzer machines, the machines likewise do not account for variable partition ratios in the subject which can result in substantially inaccurate readings. The partition ratio (ratio between BAC and breath alcohol content) is correlated at 2100:1, but subjects may range from 1500:1 to 2400:1 or higher, leaving a large margin of error. Consider, if one’s actual BAC level is .08, the breathalyzer could identify this range from a .065 to a .09. However, if one’s actual level is under the legal limit, .07, and the personal ratio is 1500:1, you will end up with a BAC level of .10, above the legal limit, through no fault of your own. A partition ratio can fluctuate far a variety of reasons including age, health, or whether the subject is in alcohol absorptive/post absorptive phase to name but a few. Dr. A.W. Jones, Assistant Professor in Experimental Alcohol Research at Sweden's Karolinska Institute has confirmed the variations of blood to breath alcohol rations in different individuals and in the same person from time to time.

After conducting extensive studies, British physicians have concluded the following:

"the blood/breath ratio should be regarded as nothing more than a statistical convenience suitable for defining the limits of a particular universe. Its use to derive individual blood alcohol levels from breath alcohol levels has little scientific justification and its use in this way for law enforcement can only be deplored. We reiterate our view that breath analysis is not an acceptable method for accurately determining blood alcohol concentrations" [Alobaidi, Hill and Payne, Significance of Variations in Blood/Breath Partition Coefficient of Alcohol, 2 British Medical Journal 1479, 1481 (December 18, 1976)]

Interfering Components

Breathalyzers are designed to look for the ethyl alcohol molecule but they can be fooled by substances that appear similar in chemical composition to alcohol, thus misreading these substances as containing alcohol content. Acetone is one of the most common substances that can confuse breathalyzers and it is found in a large number of diabetics. Additionally, people who are exposed to certain types of paint fumes, ie. painters, can also confuse the breathalyzer and cause it to register a BAC level that is higher than it should be.

In addition to the foregoing, there are many other reasons why the results of a BAC reading may not be accurate; there will be ongoing debate as to the effectiveness of the machines continue to be tested, but as long as the machines allegedly assist the government in keeping drunk drivers off the road, much of the foregoing falls upon deaf ears.

May 19, 2009

Maryland DUI Consequences & your CDL License

So you got a DUI/DWI charge in Howard County, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County or any other county in Maryland and you have a CDL (commercial driver's license). Your CDL is required for you to work, so what happens now? Well, in a word, you have a problem. First, the fact that you were not driving a CDL vehicle at the time of your DUI arrest does NOT matter, you still have the same problem. Yes, it's not fair but that's the way your Federal Government set it up. Now, where to go from here? It's a little confusing so if the following CDL-DUI advice is not working for you, feel free to give us a call.

A conviction or a PBJ on the 21-902A, C or D offense will result in you loosing your CDL license for one full year. The fact that you need your CDL to work for a living, to provide for your family or the fact that you were not driving a CDL at the time of your stop or arrest is not relevant to the consequences. The mere fact that you possessed a CDL at the time of the arrest is enough.

A conviction for the 21-902(B) offense or a PBJ does NOT result in the immediate loss of your CDL, that's the good news. In fact, a PBJ (probation before judgment) on the 21-902(B) offense is a good thing for a CDL holder, you want that assuming your case may not otherwise be won. Also, a conviction on the B offense is workable too, it does not automatically result in the loss of your CDL, it does result in 8 points on your record however which then results in a points suspension hearing (which you must request) where you can ask for a lesser period of suspension of your license. The MVA is typically looking a 6 months suspension for 8 points related to DUI or alcohol which means 6 months suspension of your CDL license in this DUI arrest.

Now, having said that, what about the administrative MVA hearing secondary to DUI stop, ie. the administrative suspension (this is that onion skin Officer's Order of Suspension paper you received when they liberated your license from your wallet).

1. If you blew less than a .15, that's good. You can request an MVA hearing within 10 days of your arrest and request any modification you might seek, worse case scenario is that the MVA does not see it your way and you loose your license for 45 days. When you loose your license you loose your CDL. If you get a modified driver's license, you still loose your CDL. It is very important to understand that for whatever period of time you have a "modified" driver's license or a suspended license, you will loose your CDL license. However, for 45 days you might be able to swing something with your employer, ie. maybe you can drive a regular vehicle or do other work.

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May 3, 2009

Drunk Driving Maryland

As if avoiding a Maryland Drunk Driving charge was not hard enough, it seems I'm hearing more about nefarious police tactics- from the police themselves and a prosecutor charged with DUI in Howard County whom I recently vindicated. That is, if you catch an officer's eye and he wants to pull you over and can't find one of many reasons from his handy DUI playbook, ie. you weren't speeding, swerving, riding the fog line, crossing the yellow line, littering, your tag light was not burnt out thus couldn't be seen from three miles away in the rear view mirror, etc., the latest mechanism is for him to ride your bumper. Yes, that's right! Your driving along at night, minding your own business, admiring Howard County's splendor or Anne Arundel County's many wonderful attractions or even Baltimore County on a slow night, when you notice headlights right on your tail, you notice them get closer and closer so you speed up, maybe change lanes without a blinker then speed up, wham! Your done like bug in spider's web.

What just happened is that the officer could not find a lawful reason to pull you over so certain officers (not all) will take it upon themselves to push you, to push your tail until you speed up and break the law. You speed up over the limit and he has a lawful basis to stop you. You then plead with the officer that he was riding your bumper, but he chuckles while he asks you "How much have you had to drink tonight because I think your driving drunk?

The funny thing is that "certain officers" have done this little maneuver to other police officers and pulled them over. Sometimes they are released, sometimes not. Sometimes the DUI charges may be dropped, sometimes not. Either way, this is a nefarious little DUI detection maneuver that you should be aware of.

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