Have you ever driven home from a social event after midnight and been just plain exhausted to the point where it’s a struggle to keep your eyes open? Have you ever driven your car for 3 or more hours and looked in the mirror and seen red, glassy eyes staring back at you? That’s how it was for me driving back from camp the other day. It was an 8 hour total drive in one day, but hey, the kids are worth it. The problem is if Maryland’s finest should happen to stop somebody for a traffic violation, such as a license tag light being out, the red glassy eyes and late night driving would be a seriously incriminating problem. Additionally, if one were to stop on the way home and eat dinner and consume one beer, which was subsequently identified by the roving officer, the whole evening could prove quite disastrous.
Some important thoughts to baer in mind regarding late night driving and DUI are 1) the cops are on heightened alert because it’s nighttime. When the sun goes down the police ramp up for more stops and more DUIs. They go out of their way at night to pull people over for any infraction, such as a burnt out tag light, high beams on too long, driving 5 miles over the speed limit, touching the shoulder line of the road, etc., in order to effectuate that stop.
2) Once they pull you over, even the faint odor of an alcoholic beverage will get you in trouble for drinking and driving because once they smell it, you are likely going to be arrested. The police officer’s favorite question is: have you been drinking tonight? You lose no matter what you say. “Yes, I have been drinking, I had a beer at the restaurant.” Busted, you are going to the station house because you admitted to consuming alcohol and they won’t believe what you told them. Or, “No officer I haven’t had anything to drink tonight.” Busted, he knows you are lying because he can smell it on your breath. Either way, you lose.
Now, the fun is just beginning! Your body keeps its own internal clock, it’s called a circadian rhythm. This internal body clock, according to researchers can effect your ability to engage in mental and physical exercises at night such as DUI roadside field sobriety tests. Therefore, when you are most vulnerable to attack by the police secondary to it being late at night, or being tired, or driving a long distance, the police are on high alert to look for you. Mix that with only one beverage and you have a recipe for disaster. Under these circumstances there is little chance, if stopped, that you won’t be charged with a DUI even if you blow under Maryland’s legal limit for DUI, which is .08. Remember, according to a recent conversation I had with a Maryland State Trooper, “If we hook ’em, were going to write ’em.” That means, if you are arrested for the crime of DUI, it is highly likely you will be charged even if you blow under .08.
To that end, I recently had a foreigner come to my office to retain me for a DUI defense. The officer said he spoke with a slur so he was arrested. At the station house he blew a .02!! He was arrested and charged. Unreal.
For me personally, if I’m going to be on the road for a while or driving late at night, I don’t consume any alcohol at all. It seems to me that’s the only way to assure that you make it home on time without a detour to a police precinct. The bad news is this is basically a defeatist attitude where the government and MADD get what they are pushing for, complete abstinence on the nation’s highways, but the good news is, it is a safe alternative.
Bruce Robinson Defending DUI matters in Maryland