March 24, 2013

Do I have to tell my employer about my DUI Arrest?

A question that comes up frequently in a Maryland DUI Arrest is whether or not a defendant should tell their employer about the fact that they have been arrested and charged for a DUI or DWI.

The fact that a person is accused or charged with a crime is their own business and not anybody else's business unless there exists special job related circumstances. Remember, any person can be accused of committing a crime. Being charged with a crime is very different from being convicted of that crime. When a judge or jury has spoken and the accused is convicted of a crime that may rightly impact some types of employment. However, the fact that somebody has been charged with a crime, tends to place that person under a questionable and possibly irreversible light, even if they are subsequently found to be not guilty in court. Thus, unless you fall into a specific category of jobs, telling one's boss or employer that they have been "charged" with an offense is generally not necessary.

Having said that, a few exceptions spring to mind. First, if you have a secret Government clearance and part of that clearance is a contractual obligation to tell your employer that you have been charged with a crime. In that circumstance it is incumbent upon an accused to at least advise their employer pursuant to their contract for clearance that they have been charged. Generally speaking employers under this circumstance will withhold punishment until the matter goes to court and has a final resolution. This is important because in many cases it is possible to be found either not guilty or to avoid the stigma of a "conviction".

Other employers may have an employee handbook or other policy which clearly states that you must advise your employer of a DUI conviction and/or a DUI charge, generally speaking military personnel are a good example of this also folks that drive as part of their job. So for example, a travelling sales person, like medical sales; this job tends to be rather specific on the issue of reporting traffic/criminal charges. The reason is because they have civil liability if you get into an accident while on the job or otherwise driving their car or driving at their behest. If it is proven in court that the employer knew or should have known about an employee's DUI record and the employer gave them a car anyway, the employer could suffer liability for subsequent injuries to a third party.

Thus, if you are a traveling sales person or if you are provided a company car, or if you have been advised by your employer at the time of hiring (or subsequently) that you must report DUIs, alcohol offenses or traffic matters, then you must do so or the employer could have a strong basis for termination or punishment, not just for the underlying DUI offense, but also for your failure to follow the employer's rules.

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January 4, 2013

DUI Cop FIRED for crappy, lying behavior

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This is EXACTLY the type of crappy DUI ARREST behavior that concerns me the most as a DUI lawyer in Maryland. As I have written numerous times before, the courts, judges and juries place waaaaay too much weight on the insidious accusations that some police officers write in their arrest statement of charges. The courts (too many of them) accept these accusations as gospel which is ridiculous and unfortunate because cops in many jurisdictions learn what they need to say in their statements to gain a conviction and just make up facts as they go along to get what they seek.

I was stopped one night leaving my law office on my way home and sadly it was past midnight which means cops can make up any story they want to stop you. This cop indicated that I was driving "all over the road" which was almost comical, since my Audi never left my lane of travel. When the cop failed to smell alcohol on my breath and learned I was a DUI lawyer, he quickly lost interest in me and left the scene to prepare his snare for his next victim which would surely be easier prey.

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November 23, 2012

Winning DUI cases for our clients

Even now, months after our victory in an Anne Arundel manslaughter case, fellow lawyers approach us and ask how we were able to be victorious against the Government in what appeared to be a strong case against the Defendant. In fact, the prosecutor is still scratching his head and wondering the same thing. The answer, as is typically the case is meticulous preparation that goes well beyond the case itself.

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Our attorneys go beyond the normal reading of the facts, investigation, preparation and presentation to a judge or jury. We routinely and consistently attend seminars by the Nations leading trial attorneys in order to uncover the latest trial techniques and strategies to put the Government to the task of proving its case. Unfortunately, for the DUI/Criminal defendant, the deck is always stacked against the accused because the Government has endless resources to secure their ends (a conviction) and most jurors walk into the court room with a bias against the accused which the defense must overcome in order to secure, at a minimum, a level playing field.

In order to overcome jury bias and the state's relentless resources, we understand that the defense must work that much harder to prove our client's innocence, just as we did in the above noted manslaughter case. We are proud to inform our clients that at Robinson and Associates, we read and study the treatises from the greatest trial advocates of our time, we seek them out and listen to them speak all over the country, and we bring that knowledge and skill to bear for our clients in Maryland. The picture embedded herein is none other than myself with F. Lee Bailey, speaking at a recent seminar on behalf of the National College for DUI Defense Attorneys.

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November 3, 2012

Picking the right DUI Lawyer after Arrest

These are difficult economic times; because of that fact many people are out of work as companies lay off and down size. Law firms and lawyers are not immune from the economic downtown caused by too many ridiculous wars that we should not be in, crashing realestate values, greedy wall street investors who don't give a damn about anything, president Bush endless spending and the like.

As for lawyers, many of the commercial, realestate, transactional, and domestic guys have felt the economic crunch and determined that they need to practice in other areas in order to keep the lights on. This national transition of lawyers into the field of DUI defense comes at a price to weary DUI Defendants. That is, there are too many DUI advertisers on line these days and unless a DUI Defendant takes the time to really research who the top dogs in the field are, they can end up hiring the wrong DUI lawyer resulting in long lasting negative consequences to them and their family.

At Bruce Robinson & Associates (mddwi.com), we are inundated by calls and queries on a weekly basis seeking quality DUI representation. We are privileged to represent the best of the best, starting at the White House in Washington DC and going down through the covert Federal Agencies, Federal Judge's kids, other lawyers and judges, doctors, etc. The unpleasant part is when clients routinely call us having gotten bad and incorrect advice from another lawyer. Flat out wrong advice on how to handle their case. We then have to fix the advice, turn the client's mind set around and work back up from there. The other concern is while we patch up a lot of crappy advice, what about all the other DUI Defendants who hire the first lawyer they speak with that charges a fraction of what should be charged and send clients down the river with no paddle because the lawyer has little idea what they are doing.

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March 15, 2012

How to Hire a DUI Lawyer

I just came across this article Three mistakes when hiring a DUI lawyer . I thought it might be beneficial to my DUI readers.

In a nutshell it says to watch out for

1. lack of experience
2. lack of knowledge and
3. lack of commitment.

I could not agree more with the theme of the article. In any jurisdiction there are a handful of attorneys that specifically focus their practice on the defense of DUI cases. These attorneys know the nuances of DUI law, they know which judges are descent to work with and importantly, which judges simply cannot be worked with and must be avoided at all costs. Choosing any old lawyer or a family lawyer or a friend's lawyer to defend a matter as important as a DUI, without knowing the lawyer's experience level and dedication to DUI defense is foolish. Put another way, you would not hire your family doctor to give you a heart transplant, right? DUI offenses have long term consequences for people that effect many different aspects of one's life; therefore, you must get this right.

Lawyer commitment to the client is a crucial consideration as well. Too many lawyers out there simply do not give a hoot about their clients and thus a client cannot get their lawyer on the phone. Many lawyers are like that. Ironically my experience with lawyers has been similar. Occasionally, when I have needed to consult a lawyer for one thing or another I find that when I reach out, you can't get them on the phone immediately, they don't return phone calls and they are pompous. Refreshingly, this firm has never done things that way and that is, in part, why we are a successful DUI defense firm. Lawyers are busy in court, but they should be able to get back to you if not the same day, at least within 24 hours. If you cannot speak with your attorney, and get prompt answers to your important questions, you have the wrong attorney!

As for this firm, our lawyers are always available to speak with out clients, we realize the importance of the matter and the importance of prompt communication. One clear advantage that we provide to our clients is regular evening and weekend appointments.

It's astounding how many firms close their doors at 5pm. We do not operate that way, at 5pm we're just gearing up. Most nights of the week we are here hours beyond 5pm and available to the clients. We are also routinely available on weekends for consultations following an arrest. Few other firms offer that level of service, we feel it is important however to extend that simple courtesy.

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June 25, 2011

Are we making any difference at all?

Last Wednesday I was fortunate to attend a U2 concert at Raven's Stadium in Baltimore. It was a cool show but it was the third time that I had seen them so it lost some of its allure. Prior to the show however I was at Lexington Market in Baltimore City where I met a number of people. Interestingly the beer that we were all consuming was sold in pitcher sized plastic glasses that I had not seen before, no wonder people get drunk and get DUIs; heck there should be law against selling pitcher size glasses of beer that you could practically jump into and swim around.

Anyway, we struck up a conversation with a pleasant gentleman from Tennessee and his friend; he was enjoying a “grande cerveza” with us when the topic came up of the billboards all over Baltimore City regarding drunk driving and being a "loser" and the cost of a DUI of approximately $15,000.00. Wow, I wish the cost was anywhere near $15,000.00, it might make all the pressure, struggle, turmoil, public and judicial bias that we suffer as counsel defending these matters a little easier.

Be that as it may, the billboards in addition to indicating a $15,000.00 mistake also indicate that there were “24,000 losers” last year. Hmmm. That got me thinking, several years ago when I looked into how many DUIs there were in Maryland, the same figure was revealed, 24,000 people who were alleged to have made a mistake. Roughly 5 years later and where experiencing the same number of DUI infractions. That got me thinking about how many arrests there were for DUI 20 or 25 years ago before drunk driving became the "in thing" for the government to arrest people for. Back in the day when the legal BAC limit was .15 and the police didn't care if you had an open beverage in the car. I suspect the number of arrests was less and I suspect the number of fatalities was also less then what we have today.

Then I remembered what an officer told me last week in Montgomery County, Maryland; he said he was in court on his day off, that he had 9 cases that day, one of them was mine (which got postponed which means he has to come back again) and that he was getting over time for being there on his day off so he didn't mind being there.

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December 14, 2010

Why should I retain your firm to defend me?

Funny thing happened to me while I was in DUI Court today. My client was facing a pending jail sentence so we went to Court to try to change that; we were successful and kept him out of jail. Another satisfied client; but, that is not the reason for this post. The reason for the post is one of Howard County's men in blue was present in the Court room and he asked where my blog articles were, the officer said "you have not posted anything in a while". I asked him, do you actually read what I post regarding DUI and drunk driving. He said "we do".

Wow! The police actually read what we have to say, that's great. Maybe it helps on all sides, maybe it helps get better behavior on both sides of the DUI equation. Maybe not, maybe it only helps them be tougher on the DWI Defendants. Either way, our goal here is to seek fairness on both sides of the DUI equation so Defendants can be treated fairly in Court. Unfortunately, there are many Courts in Maryland where a Defendant is guilty merely because s/he walked into the Courtroom.

That means, citizens should know their legal rights and utilize them as they see fit. That means, knowing that one does not have to do a field sobriety test at a DUI stop and knowing that anything they do can and will be used against them in Court. Knowing that right, and then electing to perform roadside gymnastics is totally up to the person. However, not being coerced into incriminating oneself is an important Constitutional Right that we all share.

Then comes that pesky breath machine. Do I blow? Do I not blow? I get asked that question everywhere I go. It's an important question which does not have a simple answer to fit all people. The answer changes based upon individual circumstances. However, it is refreshing that the police are required to advise you of your legal rights before asking a Defendant to make that important decision. You also have the right to communicate with an attorney prior to making that decision. Refreshingly, most police officers will let you exercise that right. Those that do not will suffer the consequences of that decision in Court.

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April 19, 2009

A DUI in Howard County Maryland

Howard County is but one of 24 counties in Maryland in which one can be charged with DUI. For those that are interested, Howard County was founded in 1838 and today has many redeeming qualities. In 2006 it was ranked the third wealthiest county by median household income by the U.S. Census Bureau and Howard County’s own Columbia and Ellicott City were recognized as the fourth “best places to live” by Money Magazine. The public school system in Howard County is continually recognized to be among the best in the Country. Consequently, Howard County is in fact a very pleasant place to live and raise a family, but what about if you are charged with DUI/DWI in Howard County?

After practicing DUI law for 17 years throughout all Maryland counties, including Howard County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County, Prince Georges, Montgomery, Carroll County, Harford, Queen Anne’s etc., I can safely say that Howard County is definitely at the top of the short list of better places to be charged with a DUI (assuming that you’re going to be charged at all). But why you ask?

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July 29, 2007

Harvard Law School & Continuing Legal Education

Many states require lawyers to take continuing legal education after graduating from law school and passing the bar, Maryland is not one of them. In Maryland, once you pass the bar you are authorized to say goodbye to school and books forever. As a Maryland lawyer, I feel differently. I have been admitted to practice law in this state since 1992. I have been a DUI lawyer in Maryland since my early years with an ever increasing focus on that area of the law.

What's interesting is that when the average person hears the words DUI or DWI they might think this area of the law is not as complicated as others or that this is an easy field, they might not understand that this area is a sub-specialty unto itself. The truth of the matter is, the more one gets involved with seriously defending persons charged with DUI and DWI, the more one appreciates that this truly is a specialty of criminal law. That is, there is so much information to stay abreast of regarding the constitutionality of vehicle stops, the reasonableness of pre-arrest investigations, including field sobriety tests, and the legality of post arrest testing, including breath testing and blood testing. Interestingly, both breath testing and blood testing in DUI and alcohol related cases are very expansive in that they spill over into a variety of other sciences.

The breath test machine, as has been discussed in earlier entries, is effected by such things as the suspect's partition ratio, which the machine takes for granted at 2100:1 and many times is simply wrong, the suspect's hematocrit level, which the machine does not even take into consideration, the suspect's breathing pattern which the police are all to happy to help you with, the machine's built in error rate and on and on. You will recall that the machine essentially operates by taking a breath sample and shining a light through the sample and evaluating how much light comes out the other end of the magic box.

Conversely, with blood draws there are a number of issues including hematocrit, pre-absorption versus post-absorption, venous draws versus arterial draws, hospital draws versus police draws, vials used, preservatives in the vial, storing conditions, custody, etc. They involve many issues involving an understanding of science.

If a DUI lawyer is to provide the best defense possible to a DUI/DWI suspect, that lawyer needs to have a firm grasp not only on the constitutional issues which he learned in law school, but on the scientific issues which are learned outside of law school at continuing legal education seminars and various text books on the subject like Larry Taylor's Drunk Driving Defense, presently in its 6th edition. For me personally, I believe it's important to continually stay fresh on the latest scientific articles and research in the fields that effect DUI suspects. I have just now returned from the National College for Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer's annual continuing legal education seminar at Harvard Law School where I am reminded that the police and the court system are very happy to accept evidence as presented by the government and draw the expected conclusion; however, if that is not consistent with what a client needs, then the lawyer must be prepared to and capable of pulling back the black curtain in order to expose the scientific truth. Knowledge of the science is the truth, the truth leads to fair and equitable results in the defense of DUI cases.