Prosecution of DUI Cases in Howard County
In order to build the strongest possible defense for your DUI case, it is important that you understand how your case is likely to be treated by prosecutors in court. Below, a Howard County DUI lawyer discusses the severity with which DUI cases are prosecuted and the types of evidence that prosecutors will typically present in order to get a DUI conviction.
To learn more about what you should expect regarding your case or to start building a defense, call and schedule a consultation today.
How Prosecutors Treat DUI Cases
Very much so. The prosecutors in Howard County are very unlikely to just drop DUI cases. They would usually rather take a loss at trial than dismiss a case. The prosecutors in Howard County take DUIs extremely seriously. It’s the type of quality of life offense that the chief prosecutor in Howard County really doesn’t like. The Assistant State’s Attorneys definitely are monitored on how they handle DUI cases. So state attorneys that tend to dismiss a disproportionate number of them will hear about it from their supervisor.
Evidence Presented in DUI Cases
Most DUI cases only involve the officer’s testimony. In a case where there is no breath test, the officer’s testimony of the stop will be the bulk of evidence that the court considers in that case. The officer will testify as to why they stopped the vehicle and made contact with the driver. The officer will testify as to what indicators of impairment they observed to justify their decision to make the arrest and they will try to use those indicators of impairment to prove that the individual was actually impaired.
If there’s a breath test admitted, then another officer will be called and he’ll testify about his qualification to administer the test. They’ll testify about the certifications on the machine and the testing procedure. So they’ll try to admit the results of the breath test to be used to show that the individual was a 0.08 or higher and prove the DUI per se.
What Needs To Be Proven
They need to prove that an individual was operating a motor vehicle and then they’ll need to prove impairment or the results of a breathalyzer test. So they’ll either need to prove that an individual was subjectively drunk or buzzed at the time they were operating that motor vehicle or they’ll need to prove that the individual’s breath alcohol content was 0.08 or higher within two hours of arrest.
Sentencing in Howard County DUI Cases
As a general rule first offenders in Howard County are usually not incarcerated. Probation before judgement is fairly common for first offenders in Howard County which will mean that a conviction doesn’t get entered against your driving record, and it doesn’t carry any points. If anyone asks if you’ve been found guilty of the DUI, the answer to that will still be no.
Second offenders in Howard County typically will face some period of active incarceration usually in the form of a couple of weekends of incarceration. Then third offenders sentencing can vary pretty significantly from judge to judge and that’s a situation where knowing your judge is a good idea and having a lawyer who is familiar with all the judges in Howard County can have a really significant impact on the outcome of those.
What Additional Factors Can Go Into DUI Sentencing?
The court will look at an individual’s record when considering sentencing for DUI charges in Howard County, as well as what an individual has done since a DUI-related incident to demonstrate that they’re taking the case seriously. They’ll look at enrollment in alcohol classes. They’ll look at attendance at AA meetings. And then obviously the court is going to look at the facts of the case itself:
- Was there an accident, was there a child present in the vehicle?
- If there’s a breathalyzer test, what did the individual blow?
- How was the individual’s demeanor with law enforcement?
All of those things could be factored into sentencing for every DUI case in Howard County.
Appealing a DUI Decision in Howard County
You have an absolute right to appeal any district court DUI case, unless you accept probation before judgment. Circuit court cases that come from a trial can be appealed as well, while circuit court pleas, however, are very difficult to appeal. There are only four very narrow grounds that one can appeal a plea in the circuit court and those almost never apply. These grounds for appeal are:
- That the court didn’t have jurisdiction
- That the plea wasn’t knowing and voluntary
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
- Illegal sentence
Those are very rare. So it’s very difficult to appeal a plea from the circuit court. However district court cases have an automatic right to appeal and you can always be appealed to the circuit court.