Articles Posted in The DUI Arrest

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Will I lose my job if I get arrested for DUI? Always a question on the lips of those arrested for an alcohol violation in Maryland. The short answer is probably not! In our over 20 years experience I can count (probably on less than one hand) the number of times a person has lost their job for a first or second time DUI arrest. Obviously there are many factors that play into how one’s employer may feel about such and arrest and therefore, one of the threshold questions may be ‘will the employer find out about the arrest?’

The regular employer who is not a government entity does not typically sit around checking Maryland’s government websites to determine if one of their people has been arrested and therefore the decision is left to the employee to determine if and when this private situation should be made public.

At a minimum, unless you are under some form of legal obligation to disclose a DUI arrest, it seems best to disclose this information (if at all) after you have been to court. The reason for this is that there are many possible outcomes from the arrest, including a NOT guilty. Therefore, putting yourself in a negative light before going to court may not be the best idea. For example, telling your boss what happened two days later, you retain Bruce Robinson & Associates to defend you and you win your case in court. Now what? The employer has been stewing over the situation for months and now the arrest has gone away. You still look bad in the employers eyes, you could be passed over for promotions or any number of things.

Another possible outcome is going to court and receiving a probation before judgment (PBJ); this is not a conviction on your record and you do not receive the 12 points you would otherwise receive for a DUI conviction in Maryland. So now what do you tell your employer? You were arrested? You were not convicted? They are already pissed to hear you got a DUI and if you drive their cars during work, there could be an issue. http://www.mddwi.com
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Often times people will come into the office charged with DUI after providing a breath sample of less than .07 or .08. They wonder how it is they were charged in Maryland for DUI/DWI when they blew a legal BAC number between .01 and .06. This is an important question and a misnomer in the legal system. The TV commercials, billboards, and public announcements all indicate that a .08 BAC is the legal limit for alcohol in Maryland. Unfortunately, the little-known truth is that this is simply not correct.

You see, police officers in their zeal to make an alcohol related arrest and show the brass that they are making Maryland’s streets safer, while meeting their quotas, will happily arrest a driver with any BAC content as long as the driver is demonstrating some form of impairment. What is some form of impairment?

Well that’s really the easy part, some form of impairment means failure to stay within your lane of travel, such as crossing over the white dotted lines, it could mean speeding, and it certainly means a failure to perform the field sobriety test adequately when stopped by a police officer for any reason such as not wearing your seatbelt. In other words, failure to wear your seatbelt is now a first-tier offense meaning that you can be stopped and ticketed for this offense (in the past you could not be stopped for this violation alone). Once the police officer senses the odor of alcohol on your breath for something as minimal as one beer she will automatically get you out of your car for field sobriety tests. If you are like every other normal citizen you will not perform the field sobriety tests with 100% acuity and therefore the officer will arrest you for failing to perform the roadside gymnastic test adequately.

Once at the police station you will be asked to provide a breath sample which may come back low in the .02-.05 area and this is where you get charged in many cases despite the low and legal BAC number. It places the police officer in an awkward situation because she has wasted her time with a stop and dragging you to the station and wasted the time of the breath technician only to come back with a low and legal BAC. Nobody likes to have egg on their face so to avoid that you will be charged with DWI or driving while impaired despite having what you were told was a lawful BAC.
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Can you be arrested for DUI in Maryland if the police did not see you driving your car? To evaluate that question, it must be further broken down to were you sitting in the car or were you outside the car when the police arrived?

The easier question concerns if you are outside your car when the police officer arrived. If you are simply outside of your car when the police officer arrived and you are inebriated without more, such as an eyewitness or more commonly, ratting yourself out to the police, the answer would generally be no. The proof required by the state to prove the elements of a DUI charge would generally be inadequate under these circumstances.

The police are quite efficient at applying pressure and asking questions of a suspect in order to get them to hang themselves. The first question from the police officer will be, were you driving this car or “what happened when you were driving this car?” And then typically the defendant engages in a conversation thereby indicating that he was the driver and providing evidence that the state can now use against the driver in court. This is why the Miranda warnings indicate that you are not compelled to give evidence against yourself and that anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Make no mistake, they will use this type of evidence against you and it could be the only evidence the government has to convict you of the charge.
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One issue that seems to come up with regularity is whether to tell one’s employer or boss that they were arrested and charged with a DUI or other criminal event. Certain people with high levels of clearance or security may be required to inform their employer upon any infraction of the law. However, the majority of people do not have such strict limitations placed upon them. Some people may be concerned because their employee manual may speak to ramifications of a DUI arrest or they may have heard stories about other folks similarly charged.

For the normal person who does not have a clear and absolute obligation to tell their employer, we would generally suggest waiting until the matter is resolved in court, and even then we might consider the necessity of sharing such personal information. The initial problem that comes to mind with being charged is that a charge is not a conviction and therefore going to one’s boss and indicating they were charged with a criminal offense could place that employee in a less than favorable light. Then, when one actually goes to court and if they avoid a conviction or better yet beat the charge completely, that person will have unnecessarily put a stain on their employee record, as far as the boss is concerned, even if their case is won. It is for that reason that we would typically say wait and see what the outcome of the event is before telling anybody about the event. Additionally, some employers may take a fairly strict stance on this type of matter which may be completely unwarranted if the matter is won in court.
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I had an interesting DUI victory today in Baltimore County District Court. Unfortunately my client was in a wheelchair and paralyzed from the waist down due to a pre-existing condition from years ago. He was stopped driving home in Baltimore County for speeding wherein he told the officer that he had five beers and a shot of fireball whiskey, he was charged with a Maryland DUI. One challenge that we see a lot when dealing with the police is that defendants are a little too talkative regarding what they have consumed prior to being arrested. Remember, in any other form of criminal arrest the police are constrained to read Miranda warnings which is advice to the defendant to keep their mouth shut until contacting an attorney. Unfortunately, these same protections do not typically apply in the traffic/DUI scenario. Consequently, it is wise to be aware of your legal rights to keep your mouth closed and to practice that philosophy.

The police in this case could not perform the normal field sobriety tests for obvious reasons; however the police officer was able to perform the single test of the horizontal gaze nystagmus or HGN. Remembering that the HGN test is nothing more than an indicator that one has consumed alcohol, this test was relatively meaningless in this case because the defendant admitted that he consumed alcohol throughout the evening. This defendant was arrested by the police as a result of the HGN test and his red glassy eyes in addition to minimal speeding. Once back at the police station he blew a .14 BAC into the breath machine and that was the end of the game.

Fast-forward to Baltimore County District Court today where I tried the case and was able to exclude the BAC number from coming into evidence. Once the number was excluded due to the police officer’s technical failure in the case, something the prosecutor was not aware of, the case took on all whole new light. Many times there are technical failures on the part of law enforcement or the prosecutor’s office and that is how these cases are won.
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Woops, seems another of the “good guys” has proven that he is human. It is alleged in the Baltimore Sun that Baltimore County Cop Charles Bagley, a corporal, was arrested for DUI in Harford County where he resides. Evidently, when he was driving home he was displaying signs of intoxication when he was stopped and subsequently arrested for DUI.

This story is interesting on a number of levels among them he is a corporal on the Baltimore County police force assigned to the White marsh precinct. As a police officer and a corporal, he clearly knows better then to drink and drive, he has undoubtedly made many arrests for this same illegal behavior in the past and yet here he is demonstrating poor choices to the motoring public.

The second and perhaps more interesting part of the story is that he was arrested in Bel Air, Harford County. Everybody knows or should know that of all the places in Maryland that one can be arrested for crime, including DUI, one does NOT want to be arrested in Harford County. That county is the very worst in the entire state of Maryland.
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A San Diego police officer was recently pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. She was nabbed by the California Highway Patrol known aka CHIPS (recall the old tv program with Eric Estrada that is known by the same name- and the same name as the defendant). Evidently, she blew under .08 and was given a ticket for driving under the influence and was not taken to jail. Probably best for her that she was not jailed as her fellow inmates would probably be less then welcoming to her.

The important thing about this arrest is what her BAC (blood alcohol content) actually was at the time of the stop. Many DUI/DWI (driving while impaired) clients come into our office wondering how and why they got arrested for blowing a .06, .05 or .04. The Maryland DUI law as it is written says .08 is the legal limit and the street signs on the beltways say “over .08, under arrest.” Thus, why the arrest when under .08? The answer is the pesky charge of Driving While Impaired 21-902 (b) which is different then Driving Under the influence 21-902(a) in Maryland.

Driving While Impaired is basically a lesser included alcohol ticket for those that do not appear to be drunk yet the officer smells alcohol and has a desire to meet his monthly quota for alcohol related arrests. In other words, if the cop smells alcohol on your breath that is the first problem, despite the fact that you are allowed to consume alcohol and operate a motor vehicle in Maryland and all other states. Then whatever the cop pulls your car over for is automatically indicator 2; thus if you were speeding, that’s an indicator of impairment, if you were driving too slow, then that’s the indicator, if you made a turn without your blinker on, then that’s the indicator of your impairment. If you were driving without your seat belt on, well there you go, that’s a definite indicator that you were impaired along with the odor of alcohol on your breath. [Side note: the legislature changed the law in Maryland and failure to have your seatbelt on as well as texting are now primary offenses which the cops can pull you over directly for that particular offense.]
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I thought I had heard it all when the mayor in Toronto- Rob Ford admitted to partying and smoking crack! Funny, but not really. You can almost look at the man and see crack written all over him so since you elected him shame on you. Now you can’t get rid of him. However, if you use Washington DC as an example, Mayor Barry, well heck it’s almost a right of passage. Not to mention that he was re-elected after this miraculous concession of smoking crack!

Having said that, the purpose of this article is to shed some light on the attractive Grafton, Cleveland Mayor Megan Flanigan. She allegedly was driving drunk when she struck a fire hydrant very close to her house. It is unclear to me what happened next but the article seems to indicate that she was on scene when the cops arrived, possibly still in the vehicle. I don’t know if she left or could have left the scene and returned when the police arrived. The cops smelled alcohol on her breath and requested she perform the normal field sobriety tests (mistake #1) which apparently did not go well and she was arrested and taken to the station. The article did not indicate what if any number she blew at the station (mistake #2) if she did blow.

The article did continue on however that after she left the police cruiser evidently they found some illegal pill of some kind in the back seat which they are attempting to charge the mayor with. This of course will not stick because the police failed to do their job correctly, but that does not stop them from attempting to stick the pill on the drunken mayor.
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There are primary traffic offenses in Maryland and there are secondary offenses. A primary traffic offense in Maryland is one which gives the police the immediate ability to pull you over and issue a citation. Conversely, a secondary offense is one in which the police can issue a citation but they are not permitted to pull your car over in order to give you that particular citation. Thus, last year a seat belt violation was secondary and thus you could receive a ticket for that but the cops would have to first pull you over for a primary offense such as speeding.

The law has changed this year. Seat belt violations are now primary offenses; thus the police can now pull you over and effectuate a stop for a seat belt violation only. Additionally, texting on your phone has also become a primary offense whereas that used to be secondary. The other law that recently went into effect is designed to protect the cops on the road during a stop. As you come upon a police officer fulfilling his monthly quota by writing a motorist a speeding ticket or a ticket for a burnt out license plate light or some other equally notorious offense you are now required to brake, slow down and if possible to change lanes away from the officer. If you fail to brake, slow down and/or attempt to change lanes where possible, that officer can now quickly finish writing his speeding ticket and pile into his shiny cruiser and chase you down and issue you a ticket for your failure to follow this new traffic law. Additionally, if you or your passengers are not wearing seat belts you can be ticketed for that as well. Then while he is writing your tickets, he can keep a keen eye on the next victim who fails to brake/slow down and or change lanes and repeat the cycle.

According to a recent news report following a potentially serious accident in Virginia where a DUI slammed into the back of cruiser parked on the shoulder, roughly 12 officers die each year from motorist seeing police cruisers at night and then slamming into the back of them because it can be hard to tell initially that the cruisers are parked and not moving.
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No matter what side of the law you find yourself, nobody is above the law. Just ask Florida judge Cynthia Imperato, age 56. Evidently, this former police officer, turned lawyer, turned judge who has a reputation for being tough on criminals found herself in very hot water as she was allegedly weaving all over the highway. The link contains a 911 call to police for a person driving a white mercedes weaving all over the road, the police were able to catch up to this judge and ultimately arrest her. While initially refusing to exit her car, she attempted to call her lawyer, but was unable to dial the numbers on her phone- don’t you hate when that happens?

Ultimately, the cops got her out of the car whereupon her judge/legal training kicked in and despite not being able to dial her own mobile phone, she did remember not to attempt the field sobriety tests and refused to blow in the pesky breath machine at the police station. She was arrested after 1:00am in the morning and was apparently detained until after 7:00am at the police station. I hope she didn’t have to go directly to the bench to pass judgment on other DUI cases after spending the night in jail. Hopefully they allowed her to go home first and shower up and then play the holier then thou card at work by “throwing the book” at other DUI defendants, something she apparently is known very well for doing.

The thing that bothers me is that we are all human and therefore make mistakes. Now I do not condone drinking and driving, it is unsafe, illegal and just a bad idea. But what is equally worse is some judges and prosecutors who don’t seem to understand that mistakes get made but they are still just “one off” mistakes and defendant’s lives should not be thrown into total upheaval.

This particular judge has a record for crushing people that are found guilty of similar charges, I wonder if she believes that she should be “crushed” because she made an equally unfortunate and dangerous mistake? Would she desire to come before herself in court, or would she rather be in front of a different judge who may be more even handed and understanding then she would be to herself?
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