December 26, 2012

What the heck is the legal limit for DUI?


Your driving down the street and see this sign on the side of the road reminding you not to drink to excess and drive or you will be arrested for DUI in Maryland. The signs are everywhere, on the beltway, in front of the police stations (like this one which I snagged) even on the radio and television. Being the responsible member of the community you are, you decide you will not drink to excess and drive, you will stay away from that all telling .08. You will limit your big night out to two drinks and you will be well under the legal limit and all will be well.

On your drive home however, you are stopped by deputy DUI enforcer because your license plate light is burnt out and the next thing you know, you are being arrested for DUI, all you remember hearing is your field tests were not good because it was 25 degrees outside and their were tornado like winds blowing. You think to yourself, well I only had two drinks so what is the problem? Heck, I only blew a .05 well within the legal limit so why am I at the police station with handcuffs on? Well, unfortunately, the Maryland State legislature and your local police department forgot to tell you one itty bitty little important fact and here it is right from the Maryland State Trooper's mouth:

In other words, what this Trooper is trying to tell you is the cops can pull you over for anything at all, like a burnt out tag light or a momentary crossing of the white shoulder line and then arrest you for DUI/DWI. At the police station if you blow as low as a .03 or .04 they can and will charge you with DUI/DWI and you will be forced to secure a qualified DUI lawyer to defend yourself in Court. All that would be alright if the police and the law markers would take the time to explain to the motoring public what the actual state of the law is so a Maryland driver can at least make an informed decision before getting behind the wheel.

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December 17, 2012

You got to be kidding me!

Remember, ANY "vehicle" is good enough to get you popped for a DUI in Maryland; yes that includes lawn mowers, horses or anything else that is capable of moving people. Here are a few worthwhile concepts to bear in mind before you go out drinking and utilize your horse or lawn mower as transportation.

Definition of Drive (Transportation 11-114)
Drive means to driver, operate, move or be in actual physical control of a vehicle, including the exercise of control over the steering of a vehicle being towed by a motor vehicle. This means you do not have to be "driving" to be arrested for DUI. Simply being in or about your car could be enough to get you trouble. If you're sleeping one off in your car don't sit in the driver's seat, because if you do, the chance of being construed to be "in control" is increased."

Driving while under the influence or impaired. (Trans. 21-902)
In brief, a person may not drive or attempt to drive "any vehicle" while under the influence. Under the influence means under .08 and over .08. It means anything two drinks or more and you can be arrested for this offense. .08 is NOT the magjc number so do not rely on that.

Definition of Vehicle. Trans. 11-176
Here's the fun part:
Vehicle means any device in, on or by which any individual or property is or might be transported or towed on a highway. This does not include an electric wheelchair. This does however include lawn mowers, horses, mules, spouses (kidding), and the like.

I actually got a call from a guy in southern Maryland that got popped for riding his lawn mower. I so wanted to defend him in Court but alas it was too far away and too high of a cost.

Anyway, this holiday season, remember, they are out there and can get you for driving at any alcohol limit they want, no matter how minor, and any vehicle, gizmo or animal they want.

December 11, 2012

Arizona Judge screws up big gets DUI .22

Here's a DUI story from Arizona reminding the judicial bench and the good people of Arizona that we are all human.

Allegedly County Judge Lodge was stopped by local law enforcement in his SUV when he swerved across the yellow line and was too incoherent to perform field sobriety tests. When exiting his vehicle he apparently slammed his own arm in his car door. When asked what he had to drink, the good judge indicated the standard 3 beers answer; however his BAC was .22, a very high number, nearly 3 times the legal limit. Additionally, he indicated he took several prescription painkillers, oxycodone for a medical condition. The painkillers would not effect his BAC level, but would strongly effect his coordination. The painkillers in addition to the nearly empty bottle of vodka in his car, together could easily have been life threatening irrespective of driving drunk. The judge did indicate he was having wife/domestic issues (which would be enough to put somebody in this state of mind and should be a pass for DUI) and thus I question between the alcohol and the drugs what his desired end game was. The county apparently placed him on a desk for "personal reasons" and failed to indicate to the public what had actually occurred.

This is an interesting and sad story for a few reasons. It is interesting because Arizona is a state which is extremely unforgiving in its DUI law. This BAC number in a DUI is considered and "extreme DUI" and the punishment upon conviction is 30 days minimum in jail among other things. When that does occur, and the good judge finds himself behind the very bars that he sentences poor hapless defendants to every day, the question then becomes will he lose his job as a judge as a result of his one night soiree into the dark side of life. If he does not lose his job as a result of demonstrating incredibly bad judgment, should he? Should he continue to sit in judgment of others?

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December 7, 2012

Ready for Trial Your Honor!

When seeking out a DUI law firm, it is important that you retain a law firm with a DUI team that actually fights for you in Court; by that I mean, lawyers that are not afraid to try your case. If you go to one of these volume places because you received a letter from them in the mail or because they offered to defend you for $750, you are not doing yourself any favors. In fact, you are doing yourself a significant injustice. Why? Because your lawyer has to be ready to tell the Judge "Ready for trial your Honor" and mean it. He has to be taken seriously by the Judge and the Government lawyer.

A few months ago we won an "un-winnable" manslaughter case in Anne Arundel County ( a very difficult and conservative jurisdiction). Everybody, including the prosecutor thought we could not win. We prepared the case in our normal comprehensive fashion and determined we could win. The State was seeking well over a year for our young client in the Maryland Department of Corrections. We were not deterred. Following a two day jury trial, the jury found our client NOT GUILTY in a matter of hours.

More importantly, this week, only days ago, we represented a lovely young lady who was arrested for DUI after going through a red light, T boning another car and blowing a .19 into the police breath machine in Baltimore County. The prosecutor was emboldened by these facts and was not interested in any plea- he wanted jail. We said, "Ready for Trial your honor."

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