Articles Posted in Procedure

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In contrast to the last DUI case post where the cop was going out of his way to, shall I say, lie about the evidence, this DUI case in Anne Arundel County was different. This case involved a fairly serious accident where the driver drove through a guard rail and down a steep embankment darn near killing herself. Thankfully she did not hit any other cars during her interlude.

Cops arrive on scene, note the “overwhelming odor of alcohol” on her breath, ask the poor client to do the field gymnastics notwithstanding the accident and being punished by the airbag and surprisingly she does not “pass” their gym test. Things don’t look great for this young professional lady.

We go to Court and I tell the government prosecutor that we would be willing to plead to a negligent driving charge and to drop the alcohol charges, he looks at me weird and says no way. (New prosecutor that does not no me.)

So the prosecutor puts his case on, calls the cop to the stand, wastes a lot of time running through irrelevant crap but fails to notice that his police officer did a shoddy job on the reports. The details of the incident are not matching on the various reports and the Judge is receptive to these incorrect details.

After the State’s case (before the Defendant testifies) I threaten the State with a Motion for Acquittal and the State knows it will be granted so he now decides a plea to negligent driving is not such a bad idea after all. All alcohol charges are dropped and another happy client is returned to her family!
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It’s simple, the level should be zero. That way all drivers know not to drink if they are driving a car. Very simple and clear for all parties. Simple to enforce too.

The present system is the dumbest possible thing because it tells drivers they may in fact drink alcohol but they must know subjectively when to stop drinking, which gets harder to do once consumption has begun. Then people have two questions to answer, am I over the legal limit or not and will I get caught. If they do get caught, can it be beaten?

The easiest most clear cut and god forbid intelligent thing to do would be to make the limit zero, then everybody knows EXACTLY where they stand before turning the key.

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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.
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First thing back after the Independence Day holiday I’m in Montgomery County, Maryland for a DUI . In this case the defendant was stopped for a traffic violation and read her DR-15 rights prior to blowing in the machine. She did not understand her rights as they can be somewhat confusing so she asked to speak with an attorney, on more than one occasion, which is a good thing to do in any case. Unfortunately, she had been arrested by an officer who did not appear to understand that the defendant has rights (there’s a shocker). She has the right to speak with a lawyer when she asks as long as it does not interfere with the timely administration of the breath test. Notwithstanding, this officer said NO. The defendant subsequently ended up providing a breath sample and blew a .18.

Well, these facts are good for the defendant and bad for the MVA and/or the court. I requested an MVA hearing for this client (where I may not have otherwise done so based on the BAC number) on the denial of counsel issue. Following an MVA hearing on the merits, the administrative law judge agreed that the defendant had the right to an attorney prior to blowing in the machine and therefore took no action. Very nice result for a .18. This particular issue is a strong one at administrative hearings and when properly proven, has won the day in each instance except for once, for which the matter is presently on appeal to the Circuit Court for Carroll County.

Be that as it may, we appeared in the District Court for Montgomery County today with the .18 and I anticipated the State, based on the facts, would drop the case to the “b” offense. The State, however, had other plans and declined to do so. We had a fair judge today and I think the issue would have been successfully tried, except for two things: 1. The client was not in favor of a trial as she just wanted it to be over so she could go home and 2. There were underlying traffic tickets that still had to be dealt with in addition to the DUI charge. So, at the client’s direction, the matter was not tried but rather plead out. She essentially received an unsupervised probation, having already completed alcohol education, all the traffic tickets were dropped and the client was happy. So in this case, being right and proving it at trial may not have been the right thing to do as it may have resulted in additional problems for the client at the end of the day.

The point to bare in mind here is that despite the possible trial on the right to an attorney issue, the better resolution was reached as a result of entering into a plea agreement with the State. The prosecutor said they normally do not drop the traffic tickets but since we did have an issue, she was willing to drop them here. As a result of that, the client was able to make a very clean exit. It’s true that she got probation for the “a” offense as opposed to a possible “b” if we would have won in trial, but she walked away with no points whatsoever, and a short period of probation without the stress of a trial and she avoided the traffic tickets which she would have otherwise received. The better result was obtained without the fight.
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