Mistakes to Avoid in Maryland DUI Cases
DUI stops and cases pose certain problems to people who are unused to dealing with law enforcement or who are unaware of the rights that they have. Below, we discuss some of the biggest mistake we see before and during DUI cases in Maryland.
#1 Forgetting You Have Rights And Giving Too Much Information
It’s difficult to tell people how to respond in a particular situation, like a DUI, because you are under stress when it happens, and your inclination is to be cooperative with the officer.It’s a great idea to be cooperative and polite to the officer, but when you’re giving the officer a particular piece of information, you are helping the state build a case against you. You should try to remember that you have a lot of rights that the officer is not required to explain to you at a DUI stop. A lot of clients call me after they’ve been arrested with a DUI and say that the officer never read them their rights before they had to take the field sobriety tests or that they never read them their rights when they were placed under arrest.
A DUI is a unique situation in which the courts have found that officers do not have to read your rights, and that because you are not actually arrested when you are conducting your field sobriety test, these tests are not considered testimonial and therefore do not trigger the Miranda warnings we have become so familiar with. Even though the police haven’t read you your rights, you still have them. You don’t have to submit to a field sobriety test if you don’t want to.
You don’t have to submit to a breathalyzer test if you don’t want to. You don’t even have to answer any of the officer’s questions on the side of the road, particularly about how much you had to drink, where you’re coming from, or the fact that you might think that you, yourself are intoxicated. Those are questions that almost every officer asks during the course of the DUI arrest, and almost every defendant answers, and tries to answer honestly. I try to tell people that they are not under an obligation, legally, to answer those questions but there is never a reason to be impolite when refusing to do so.
#2 Forgetting That You’re Not Guilty Until The Government Proves That You’re Guilty
People who think that they’re guilty of something are using the word “guilty” in the wrong way. The word “guilty” doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong; it means that the government has proven that you’ve done something wrong, and that’s a very different concept to the one most people understand.
If you’ve blown into a machine, you may think that machine is giving an accurate representation of your alcohol level, but your defense attorney may be able to find issues with the way it was calibrated, or with the expiration dates on the chemicals that were used in the calibration. Who knows if that reading was accurate or not? There are all kinds of things that a defense attorney can identify that would cast doubt on the state’s case against you. Remember that being guilty of something means that the government has proven that you did something wrong, not just that you thought that you might have done something inappropriate.