We had a very interesting DUI trial last week in Baltimore County, Maryland. It was the defendant’s second DUI offense at a young age, he blew over twice the legal limit, rear ended at a small sports car and forced that car into a truck. I advised my young defendant before Court that this was a serious case and he needed to prepare for the likelihood of going to jail. However, unlike many Maryland DUI lawyers, we were not going to simply plead the case. I told the prosecutor we were ready for trial- call the case. The young cocky prosecutor was more then happy to call the case for trial. He had many witnesses to the accident and all the police officers all lined up and ready to go (well almost all, he had to get the breath tech there from another state only to have his testimony quashed by me, but oh well).
So the trial begins and the Government (through the young prosecutor) focuses the majority of his effort on the accident. We stipulated (admitted) to the fact that there was an accident and that the Defendant caused the accident, but the Government persisted on calling every witness he had to prove the same issue over and over again. This wastes the Court’s time and does not please the judge. The judge is busy and wants the cases moved. They will listen to whatever gets put on the stand, but they would prefer not to have their time wasted. The Court could easily see we were trying not to waste time and the State just didn’t know what he was doing.
Ultimately we moved through the accident and the 5 witnesses called to prove the same damn thing and all the poignant pictures they had. Then it was time to get back to the nuts and bolts of proving the DUI case. The State next had to get the high BAC number into evidence, had the State done this simple task the case would have been over and the Defendant would have gone to jail. This should not be too much of an issue except for the fact both the cops and the prosecutor both screwed up the breath test.
The cops screwed up the case by waiting over 2 hours to test the Defendant’s BAC level. You see, the cops have 2 hours to get a defendant’s breath sample after the defendant is apprehended (arrested, detained or otherwise not free to leave. See Court’s Article 10-303(a)2). If the cops fail to do that simple step, then the BAC number can still come into evidence but there is no presumption of intoxication without expert testimony. Without expert testimony, the number is largely irrelevant and some judges will not even let the number into evidence, which is the correct thing to do. In this case, the young cocky prosecutor failed to realize the number was over the 2 hour limit. We objected to its admittance and the judge sustained the objection keeping the number out. The prosecutor had no clue! He tried to get the number in anyway, and proceeded to screw up the foundation to get the number into evidence. Again, he had no idea how to lay a proper evidentiary foundation, thus the number would have been excluded for faulty foundation as well. Thus, there were mistakes: the cops initially and by the Government. I love it when the Government can’t do its job! Ultimately, the DUI charge was thrown out by the Judge and the defendant only had to deal with some lesser charges which kept him out of jail.
Bottom Line: As I always say- your lawyer must be able to say “Ready for Trial”. All DUI lawyers are NOT the same. There are many lawyers to choose from, but if your case is important to you or your future, retain a lawyer that can say “Ready for Trial” even in difficult cases because that is where the rubber meets the road and in many cases victory can be obtained from simply trying the case and knowing what you are doing.