Montgomery County DUI Traffic Stops
When you are pulled over for a DUI traffic stop in Montgomery County, it is important to understand standard officer conduct. Depending on how a DUI stop is conducted, it can change the direction of your case in court. A Montgomery County DUI attorney can use any abnormalities in the procedures followed by the officer to your benefit in the courtroom. This could potentially nullify the charges.
Signs of Impairment a Police Officer May Look For
The first thing that a Montgomery County police officer is going to look for is driving behavior because they’re going to look at why the officer pulled the car over in the first place in the DUI investigation. This could be speeding. It could be a broken tail light. It could be weaving outside of your lane. Each of those is going to have a different weight in the DUI investigation. An officer who pulls you over for a broken tail light doesn’t have any justification at that point to continue the stop for a DUI whereas an officer who pulls you over for weaving outside of your lane repeatedly has a little bit more of a justification to expand his investigation.
The next thing that the officer is going to look at is going to be general clues about your person and demeanor. That can be an odor of alcohol on your breath. It can be slurred, speech, bloodshot watery eyes, difficulty retrieving paperwork when the officer asks or any other kind of symptoms of confusion or impairment. Those are going to be the first things that an officer looks for in their DUI investigation.
Standard Montgomery County DUI Stop Process
The first thing the officer is going to do is going to be initiating a traffic stop. In other words, they’re going to pull the vehicle over. After that, they’re going to walk up to the vehicle, explain to the driver why they were stopped and then perhaps continue the investigation into a DUI investigation if they observe odor of alcohol, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes. Once the officer has decided to continue the investigation and do a more of DUI investigation, at that point, they’re going to ask the individual out of their car to perform a standardized field sobriety tests.
The standardized tests consist of three tests. The horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test. After those tests are conducted, the officer may or may not ask an individual to blow into a portable breath test and after that, the officer will make their arrest decision. They’ll decide whether or not they’re going to arrest that individual for suspicion of DUI.
The breathalyzer test at the police station does have penalties for a refusal. The breathalyzer at the police station is going to carry different penalties for an individual’s driver’s license depending on if they blew and what they blew. A test refusal has the heaviest penalty for your driver’s license in Maryland. However, that penalty is 120 days no driving or one year participation in ignition interlock.
Contacting Your Montgomery County DUI Lawyer
Some officers won’t allow you to speak to your lawyer prior to arresting you but once you’ve been arrested, then the officer should give you the opportunity to speak to counsel particularly when deciding whether or not to submit to a breathalyzer test. However, it is important to understand that you still have rights available to protect yourself from incrimination.
Important Factors That Attorneys Look For
The first thing an experienced DUI attorney will look for is justification for the stop. If they can get the stop of their client suppressed, then the entire DUI case collapses. The next thing they will look at is going to be justification for the officer to arrest their client for suspicion of DUI and ask them to blow into a breathalyzer. That’s going to be based on the driving behavior, the demeanor, the field sobriety tests.
Finally, they are going to look at the breath test. A DUI lawyer will look at whether or not the test was administrated according to all the laws and rules in Maryland. Is there any way that they can get the test excluded based on some kind of departure from the way that the test should have been done?
Field Sobriety Tests in Montgomery County
The standardized field sobriety tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, the one leg stand test, and the portable breath test.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, an officer checks your eye tracking while you follow a pen or his finger or some other type of stimulus. The officer will watch for involuntary eye movements that are indicative of alcohol consumption.
The Walk and Turn Test
The next test is the walk and turn test. In that test, the officer is going to have you stand in an instructional position. So you have to put one foot in front of the other, keep your arms at your side and hold that position until the officer says you can begin the test. If you don’t stand in that correct instructional position, the officer is going to mark you off on that test and that could potentially be a clue of impairment.
The One Leg Stand Test
The third test is the one leg stand test. That test is when you stand on one foot and the officer has you balance as well as estimate the passage of 30 seconds. You’re going to stand on one foot, raise the other foot approximately 6 inches and keep your arms at your side while balancing and counting out loud to 30. The officer will time you, see how close that is to 30 seconds. The officer will also watch you to see if you had any problems with balancing, if you had to use your arms, if you had to hop or sway or put your foot down.
Additionally, there’s also a portable breath test which is a handheld breath testing machine that the officer asks you to blow into. The portable breath test is not admissible to show your breath alcohol content in court. However, the officer will use it to justify arresting you. He will use it to generate probable cause. There is also the chance that you may be arrested and asked to blow at the police station.