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Maryland DUI Stop Process

If pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence in Maryland, the following is a step by step guide of what you can expect to take place. If you have already been arrested or would like to learn more about the DUI stop process, call and schedule a consultation with a DUI lawyer in Maryland today.

Step 1: Law Enforcement Makes Contact With The Driver

A typical DUI stop begins once the officer pulls a car over and walks up to the driver’s side window. The police officer is then going to ask the driver for his license and registration and may make some comment about why he pulled the vehicle over. At this point, whether the driver knows it or not, the police officer is already beginning his investigation of whether or not the driver is under the influence.

When the driver is speaking to the officer, the officer is listening to see if the driver’s speech is slurred or if any of the driver’s answers are inappropriate or not responsive  to the question that the officer is asking and the officer is also going to be watching to see as the driver attempts to locate his license and registration.  There have been many times where police officers testify that the driver was stumbling or fumbling to retrieve the documents or that the driver was staring essentially at his own license in his wallet, but did not appear to realize that that was what he needed to be taking out of his wallet and handing to the police officer.

Step 2: Police Begin Investigation and Retrieval of Information

Immediately upon the officer making contact with the driver, he has begun his investigation of a potential DUI.  The officer will then take the license and the registration and he will take it back to his patrol car and he will run the driver’s name to check on the status of the driving history of that driver to see if there are any pending warrants for the driver and after completing that, will go back to the driver’s side window and if he feels like he has enough of a basis to ask the driver to get out of the car, then he will ask the driver to get out of the car to perform some field sobriety test.

Step 3: Law Enforcement Further Observes Behavior

The officer needs to have a legally sufficient basis  to ask the driver to get out and perform the standardized field sobriety test, which are standardized tests that the officers are trained to perform.  The results of the tests are certainly relevant, but what’s also extremely relevant is the officer’s observations of the driver as the driver gets out of the car and speaks with the officer due to the fact that the officer can testify in court if he sees the driver has difficulty getting out of his own car, if he is swaying, can’t maintain his balance, if he has to lean on the car for balance. All of those things are observations that the officer can testify to later at trial and really, it’s that kind of testimony that is the most damaging.

Judges certainly will listen to what an officer testifies to about performance on standardized field sobriety tests, but other testimony about what the driver is doing is incredibly relevant to the court.  If the officer testifies that the driver had a lot of difficulty getting out of his own car, was swaying from side to side and couldn’t really stand up straight, that in and of itself is significant to a court,  just as significant as whether or not the driver could pass the field sobriety tests.

Step 4: Field Sobriety Tests

The officer will ask the driver to perform some standardized field sobriety test. The officer may then also want to include some different tests.  For example, the officer may ask the driver to recite the alphabet, but it will be from a letter somewhere towards the beginning or middle and ending somewhere towards a letter at the end so not reciting the entire alphabet.  That requires the driver to listen and understand where he is to begin and where he is to end.

The officer may also ask the driver to count backwards from one particular number to another, and again,, simply to provide evidence that the driver was unable to comprehend what was being asked of him and was not able to successfully recite the alphabet or count backwards, which would show that his coordination was impaired, not just his physical coordination, but his overall coordination.

Step 5: Taken into Custody

If a driver is arrested for a DUI, they are going to be taken back at least initially to the police department or wherever that police officer works. If they are arrested by Salisbury City police department they’re going back to Salisbury city, if the arrest was done by at trooper then they will be taken to the MSP barracks.

Oftentimes, at least on the lower eastern shore, the driver will be issued paperwork that he will explain  the right to take the breathalyzer test and all of that paperwork will be explained.  Once all the citations have been issued and the paperwork is completed, the driver will more than likely be allowed to call somebody to come pick him up. As long as he can contact a sober driver to show up at the police department and pick him up, that will be the end of his interaction with the police.

If the driver is extremely intoxicated, or perhaps there is some sort of criminal investigation that was sort of dovetailed with a DUI, there are circumstances where the defendant will not be released on the citations and instead would be taken to the whatever the local detention center is and have to be seen by a commissioner to determine if the individual is going to be released on their own recognizance or if they’re going to have to post the bond.

Sometimes, the person will have to wait until the next morning and be seen by a judge at bond reviews. But that is really the exception not the rule and typically, the driver will be released from the police department after having received  citations and completed all of the paperwork.