Montgomery County DUI Enforcement
In Montgomery County, DUI is considered a very serious offense and it is a priority for law enforcement authorities. Montgomery County police officers are regularly looking for DUIs late at night or on weekends and will take any minor evidence of impairment that they see making initial contact with the driver as a justification to expand their investigation into a more comprehensive DUI investigation.
Like in every county, the personalities of important players will make DUI cases in Montgomery County unique. Specifically, the personalities in the police departments, personalities in the state attorney’s office, and the personalities of the judges. These individual people, who are involved in a DUI case, are each going to have a huge effect on the outcome of that case. So for example, while some judges tend to be a lot more willing to hear certain types of legal defenses, other judges take a harsher approach to sentencing and some judges just need to be avoided. A DUI lawyer in Montgomery County will have experience with these different people and will know how to approach your individual case.
To learn more about the enforcement practices of law enforcement officers in Montgomery County read below, or call and schedule a consultation today.
DUI Checkpoints in Montgomery County
DUI checkpoints are a common practice used by law enforcement in Montgomery County. Montgomery County does DUI checkpoints pretty regularly, especially during the summer.
Law enforcement trys to spread the DUI checkpoints around so that people can’t predict where they are. So it’s very unlikely that they’re going to do a DUI checkpoint in the exact same location as a prior DUI checkpoint in the same year, but that being said, the Montgomery County police are going to try to do the DUI checkpoints in places that have a lot of DUIs. So for example, those coming and going from downtown Silver Spring and downtown Rockville where there are a lot of bars may see checkpoints more frequently. There will be increased DUI enforcement around the capital beltway and Route 270 as well.
DUI Enforcement Practices in Montgomery County
There are some officers who focus a lot more on DUIs. Usually, those officers work nights and weekends, which is the time that DUIs are most likely to occur. Other officers may have specialized training in DUI detection or in the operation of the breathalyzer machine. There may be an officer whose entire shift is devoted to nothing but operating the breath test machine. This is just a function of the specializations required to prosecute DUIs. The government needs to have a certified breath technician and it doesn’t make sense to certify every officer on that. It’s much more common for an officer to work nights to focus on DUIs than it would be for an officer who works days.
The state law for DUI is the same no matter where you are in Maryland. There are some procedural things that Montgomery County police do differently than Howard County or than Prince George’s County and there are some administrative things that the courts do slightly differently, but overall, the law is exactly the same which means the things that the state has to prove are exactly the same, and the maximum legal penalties are exactly the same whether it’s in Montgomery County, Howard County or Prince George’s County or anywhere else in Maryland.
DUI and DWI Charges in Montgomery County
There are two types of DUI charges in Montgomery County. One requires a breathalyzer and the other does not. Both of the charges are violations of transportation article 21-902.
- MD Code section 21-902(a)(1): is a standard DUI charge, where the prosecution needs to prove that you, at the time of operating the vehicle, were impaired significantly by the consumption of alcohol. Contrary to popular belief that charge does not require a 0.08% BAC but can been demonstrated in a variety of ways including a refusal of a breathalyzer test, by driving behavior, or demeanor and performance on field sobriety tests.
- MD Code section 21-902(a)(2) is known as DUI Per SE and requires a BAC of 0.08% or higher. The element of that charge is that the individual was operating a motor vehicle with a breath alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. In that case, subjective impairment (how drunk you were) doesn’t really matter to the case. The only thing that the state needs to prove in a 21-902(a)(2) DUI Per Se case is that you’re operating a vehicle with a 0.08 or higher.
DUI Court Process in Montgomery County
DUI cases in Montgomery County begin in the district court. There are two district court locations in Montgomery County, one in Rockville and one in Silver Spring.
An individual who is charged with a DUI in Montgomery County has the option of having their case heard in the district court or asking for a trial by jury. If they do that, the case will then be transferred to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, which is in Rockville directly across the street from the District Court in Rockville.