Chevy Chase DUI Lawyer
Some of the most common offenses tried in Maryland’s criminal courts are those that involve drunk driving. For many people, this is their only negative interaction with the police department or the courts. Still, even though this may be a person’s only accusation, the penalties for a DUI conviction are harsh. These can result in the loss of a license, the payment of heavy fines, and even a jail sentence.
It is vital that people facing allegations of DUI, even for a first offense, give themselves the best possible chance of defeating the charges. Working with a Chevy Chase DUI lawyer could provide an essential advantage. An attorney could work to meet client goals whether they be to come to a fair plea deal for a reduced sentence or to fight the charges at trial.
Maryland’s DUI Laws and What a Prosecutor Must Prove
Maryland’s DUI statute is a very simple one. Md. Transportation Code Ann. §21-902 states that it is illegal for any person to drive or attempt to drive any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. This includes cars, boats, and even bicycles.
Upon arrest, police will confiscate a defendant’s license and give them a 45-day temporary license. During the first ten days of this period, a defendant may request an administrative hearing to determine if they can keep their license while awaiting trial. A Chevy Chase DUI attorney could help clients to request and argue their cases in these hearings.
A key concept here is what it means to be under the influence of alcohol. Md. Criminal Law Code Ann. §2-501 states that a person is per se under the influence of alcohol if their blood-alcohol content is .08 percent or above. Police have the power to require a defendant to submit to a breath or blood test to measure whether they are under the influence. Refusing these tests is a criminal offense in and of itself.
The penalty for a conviction of DUI is harsh. Md. Transportation Code Ann. §21-902 says that a first conviction can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, the court will also have the power to suspend a driver’s license for up to six months and 12 points are placed on a defendant’s license. Act quickly to protect your right to continue driving while awaiting trial and to formulate a defense for court.
Alternatives to Fighting the Charge in Court
DUI is a criminal offense with potentially life-changing consequences. However, courts recognize that singular incidents of drunk driving may be a one-time mistake committed by an otherwise law-abiding person. If a defendant has no prior criminal record, is not currently on probation, and the court believes that it would help, the court may allow the defendant to enter a diversion program.
These programs vary on a court by court basis, but in general, a diversion program allows a person to avoid a conviction and the embarrassment of a criminal trial for DUI. These generally involve a six-month period where the defendant participates in alcohol abuse counseling, reports to a probation officer, and attends alcohol education classes. While expensive, these programs can completely erase a criminal charge. A Chevy Chase DUI attorney could help clients to determine if a diversion program is right for them and to argue for its viability in court.
Let a Chevy Chase DUI Attorney Assist You
A singular incident of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol could forever change a person’s life. However, the law recognizes that many defendants are otherwise upstanding citizens. As a result, first-time offenders have options. They may work with a Chevy Chase DUI lawyer to enter a diversion program to completely erase the charges if they abide by all terms of the program.
However, skilled legal representation could also help clients who do not qualify for a diversion program or who wish to fight the charges at trial. They can work to refute the legality of any blood or breath tests, the veracity of any field sobriety tests, or work to debate the reliability of the arresting officer’s observations. Contact an attorney today to discuss your case.