Maryland DUI Defense Lawyer
Our firm’s lawyers will employ three major steps when preparing for DUI cases. Contact our office today, so our legal team can schedule you for an initial consultation and our lawyers can begin completing the first step.
#1. Speak to Clients and Learn the Facts of the Case
Our lawyers will always want to know when things happened because the sequence of events is extremely important. For example, if an individual is asked to step out of their car as soon as the officer approaches them, that is not necessarily illegal but it does raise some questions.
An individual who is stopped for speeding might not necessarily be somebody that the officer needed to order out of their vehicle. The officer needs to have some other basis to suspect that the original reason for the traffic stop has escalated into something mandating further investigation.
Factors like the odor of alcohol, slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes may give the officer the basis to ask a person to step out of their vehicle and turn it into a more elaborate stop. Without this information it is very difficult for a defense attorney to properly formulate an argument on behalf of the client. We have to know the sequence of events and exactly how everything happened according to the defendant, not just according to the police officer.
#2. Look for Constitutional Issues
When it comes to a DUI case, constitutional issues are based on the Fourth Amendment, which protects a person from unlawful search and seizure. People often think that the Fourth Amendment only applies to their homes, but that is not the case. When an officer stops a vehicle and asks a person to step out of the car, that’s a Fourth Amendment issue.
When the officer searches the vehicle or asks a person to do a field sobriety test, those are also Fourth Amendment issues because without the proper basis or foundation, an officer cannot interrupt the normal course of your life. They cannot seize you and ask you to start doing things; they have to establish a proper foundation to do so. This constitutional principle is the most applicable in DUI cases; however, our lawyers will look for any other constitutional issues that may have existed.
#3. Protect Clients’ Driver’s License at MVA Hearings
There are many rules that apply to a Motor Vehicle Administration hearing. The primary section of the traffic code that applies in this particular proceeding is Article 16-205.1. That section of the code outlines in detail what a person’s rights are, as well as the consequences associated with a refusal of a chemical breath test or with the results if the person takes that chemical breath test.
The benefit of having an attorney at administrative hearings is that they will have sat through many hearings. They are familiar with errors made by police officers and administrative agents on the documents.
What might look like a simple and straightforward case can be dissected by an attorney who has been a part of these proceedings and who knows the defenses that may be appropriate in accordance with an Article 16-205.1 violation that somebody without the appropriate training might not be aware of.
For example, a lawyer may find an error on an Advice of Rights form. If the MVA’s document is insufficient and it could not prove that a client has been properly advised of their rights before taking the chemical breath test. This can prevent the documents being used as evidence which can help prevent action against a client’s driver’s license.
MVA Hearings Are Separate From the Criminal Case
The hearings are completely separate from each other. The standards of proof are different on the part of the judge when it comes to these proceedings. The Motor Vehicle Administration works on a preponderance of the evidence standard, which is applicable in most civil cases in which the judge is weighing out the facts and deciding whether the MVA has made their case for violation of Article 16-205.1.
In criminal proceedings, there is no weighing of evidence. A judge is only looking at one party, which is the State of Maryland, to determine whether they have proven a case against an individual beyond a reasonable doubt.
The proceedings do not follow the same rules of evidence. For example, hearsay is admissible in a proceeding at the MVA, but it would not be admissible during the course of the criminal proceeding. The two hearings address different issues and there are different standards of proof.