So, you have been arrested for a DUI/DWI in Maryland, what do you do now? Well, here is what you don’t do, nothing!
Following an arrest for DUI or other alcohol related offense in Maryland there are time sensitive things that must immediately be done in order to protect your license. Then there are things that must be done in order to protect yourself in court.
It happens with some frequency that a client will come to the office 30 days or more after their arrest (having recently received a court date) and ask what should I do now. I am then placed in the unenviable position of having to advise the client that they are about to lose their license to drive for 45 days or more because they failed to act promptly and request an MVA hearing. (The hearing presently costs $125 and the check is made out to the Maryland State Treasurer.) This can be even worse in the case of a refusal to blow which will net a 120 day suspension of the Maryland Driver’s License.
Following this bit of bad news is the question “Do I have to do anything now to prepare for court since I feel I am guilty of the charge.” The answer is a resounding yes! Believe it or not, just because you think you are guilty of the charge does not in fact make you guilty of the charge. There is quite a bit that must be proven before a judge can find you guilty of a DUI charge and many times the state is simply unable to meet its burden and then you are, in fact, not guilty of the charge. One example I like to reference is on my wall when you come into my office, it is the trial summary of a minor that was operating his vehicle at triple digit speed and accused of DUI among a host of other charges. Sounds pretty “guilty” right? Well, the court agreed that he was not so guilty and he was acquitted of all charges, including speeding.
The point is that qualified counsel is very important to force the state to prove the case against you. The more pressure that is applied to the state, the better chance that you will have that they cannot complete the task. Therefore, following a DUI arrest, you should consider the following:
1. Seek a qualified DUI attorney. Preferably somebody who defends a lot of DUI cases, as opposed to somebody who only occasionally has such a case or who maintains a general practice of law but his happy to try to defend you.
2. Be advised that MVA hearings are important to your license and must be requested on a timely basis. Generally speaking, that means within 10 days of an arrest or your license is likely to be suspended.
3. It is important that you prepare properly for court, this means an alcohol education program before court. The Judges enjoy seeing the proper steps being taken by you before court. It puts some positive “currency” into your account with the Judge.
4. Remember, you are not guilty until proven guilty in court, so don’t become so distraught over the situation that you fail to take the proper steps to protect yourself.
Seek appropriate and qualified counsel to advise you, do it promptly following an arrest, heed the advice you are given and you will be glad you did.