Montgomery County DUI Lawyer
Unfortunately, crackdowns on drunk driving often lead to the constitutional rights of motorists being violated. An aggressive approach to stopping drunk driving can also lead to innocent people being arrested, or to prosecutors vigorously prosecuting suspected DUI offenders to use them as an example to deter others. Those who are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs need to know the consequences they face when a case moves forward against them, and should contact a Montgomery County DUI lawyer for help ensuring their rights within the criminal justice system are protected. Call today and schedule a free consultation with a dedicated criminal attorney.
Alcohol-Related Driving Offenses
The Montgomery County Police Alcohol Initiatives Unit is tasked with detecting alcohol-related offenses. The Unit routinely works with officers from six MoCo police districts to set up checkpoints and periods of heightened enforcement to catch drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol. Their efforts are part of the Checkpoint Strike Force program, an enforcement and education campaign organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Maryland Transportation Code Section 21-902 divides DUI charges into two primary categories: driving under the influence or driving while impaired.
- Driving under the influence (DUI) is the more serious offense reserved for when your alcohol consumption significantly impacts driving abilities. In most cases, you will actually be charged with DUI per se, which is defined in Code Section 11-174.1. Per se is a Latin phrase meaning “in itself.” It is used to indicate that a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or above is sufficient proof you had too much to drink. While you can be charged with DUI if your BAC is below this threshold, it is a harder case for a prosecutor.
- Driving while impaired (DWI) is a less serious impaired driving offense individuals can be charged with for having too much to drink to drive safely, but not so much that you are guilty of DUI. If you have detectable alcohol in your bloodstream but your BAC is below .08, you will usually face this charge.
You will not be convicted of both DUI and DWI. If you are found guilty of DUI, the less serious DWI charge merges into the DUI charge.
You may be charged with a DUI or related offense not only for the consumption of alcohol but also if you take any drugs that affect your ability to drive your vehicle. This can include prescription drugs. To learn more about the specific charge you are facing, it may be best to contact a Montgomery County DUI attorney.
Penalties for DUI in MoCo
Penalties for DUI and DWI are established under Code Section 27-101 and vary based on whether you have a criminal record and whether you are charged with DUI or DWI:
- A first DUI can result in a $1,000 fine, a year incarceration, a six-month license suspension, and 12 demerit points on your driver’s license.
- A first DWI can result in a $500 fine, up to 60 days incarceration, and eight demerit points.
- A second DUI results in a minimum jail sentence of five days and a maximum sentence of two years, as well as a license revocation for a year and a fine up to $2,000. Installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, at your expense, may be a condition of the return of your license.
- A second DWI results in up to a year in jail, a fine up to $500, and the suspension of your license for up to 270 days.
- A third DUI results in up to three years jail time, an 18-month license suspension, and up to a $3,000 fine.
- A third DWI results in a 12-month suspension of your license and up to a year incarceration.
- There are also DUI drug charges which can carry increased penalties depending on the circumstance.
Aggravating factors like having a child in the vehicle with you can result in a longer jail sentence making it even more imperative that a DUI attorney in MoCo is contacted. Our lawyers have experience with these cases in Wheaton, Gaithersburg, Germantown, and other regions of Montgomery County.
Montgomery County Courthouse
Montgomery County Circuit Court is located in Judicial Center at 50 Maryland Avenue in Rockville, Maryland. The Rockville metro station stop on the red line is only a few blocks away from the entrance to the courthouse. In addition to the numerous MoCo and metro bus stops in the area, the Rockville MARC train station is also in walking distance of the Montgomery County Circuit Courthouse.
While the courthouse only provides free parking to jurors, there are plenty of paid parking garages in the area, including those located at 51 Monroe Street, 255 Rockville Pike, the court square building, the Rockville town square buildings, and the council office building. There is also plenty of street parking nearby the courthouse.
Dining options near the Montgomery County Courthouse include a Starbucks just a couple of blocks away on Maryland Avenue, where you can grab a coffee or lite fare. Montgomery County Circuit Court does allow cell phones into the courthouse as long as the use of those cell phones does not violate MCCC policy.
Let a Montgomery County DUI Attorney Build Your Defense
You may be eligible for Probation Before Judgment if the DUI or DWI offense is your first one. This could allow you to avoid a criminal record provided you meet the terms of probation. You can also try to negotiate a plea deal with a prosecutor or to get charges dropped if a prosecutor is relying on evidence collected in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.
Going to court is another option when charged with DUI. If you plead not guilty, a prosecutor has to prove you drove while impaired or under the influence. A Montgomery County DUI lawyer will help you evaluate your options and make smart choices when responding to drunk driving charges. They will inform you on what is and isn’t standard operating procedure during a DUI traffic stop and use the information you provide about your stop to bolster your case. Call today to learn more.