Understanding Montgomery County DUI Cases
Three Important Things About Montgomery County DUI Cases
Firstly, you shouldn’t make any admissions to police officers. That can be one of the most hurtful things in a DUI cases, just the things that you say to the police officer prior to them arresting you for DUI.
The second most important thing that people should know about DUI cases in Montgomery County is they shouldn’t do field sobriety tests. There’s no legal or administrative penalty for refusing to do field sobriety tests. They’re totally voluntary and generally, the tests are designed for people to fail. They’re not testing to see if you’re okay to drive a car. They’re tests designed to give the officer probable cause to arrest you for suspicion of DUI.
Thirdly, everyone should know that they should talk to a lawyer immediately after getting charged with DUI in Montgomery County. Having immediate legal counsel could be the difference between a successful resolution to a case or something that has a really profound negative impact on the rest of your life.
Constitutional Concerns in DUI Cases
The big issues in most DUI cases are going to be Fourth Amendment issues. The officer has to have a reason to stop your vehicle. The fact that an officer is stopping your car triggers a constitutional issue and there are few DUI cases where there hasn’t been some kind of Fourth Amendment issue based on the stop.
If a stop is unconstitutional, then all of the evidence flowing from that stop is also unconstitutional. This means if the stop is challenged successfully on constitutional grounds, then the entire DUI case falls apart, and that results in an immediate acquittal. Those are some of the quickest and easiest DUI wins when we prove that the stop is unconstitutional.
Appealing a DUI Conviction in Montgomery County
You can appeal a DUI case in Montgomery County. Any kind of DUI case from district court is immediately appealable to circuit court. You have to file the appeal within 30 days of the district court decision but you have an absolute right to appeal. An appeal is done de novo in Maryland which means that no facts that were brought in to evidence come in again automatically. You are basically entitled to a completely new trial at the circuit court if you file an appeal in Montgomery County.
Appealing in the Circuit Court
If you want to appeal a circuit court plea bargain that can be very difficult, however because there’s only four very narrow grounds that you can ask for leave to appeal on, and those almost never happen in DUI cases in Montgomery County. Specifically, you can appeal a circuit court plea if you can show that the sentence was illegal meaning the judge gave you more than the maximum sentence. You can appeal a circuit court plea if you show that there was ineffective assistance of counsel, that your lawyer is essentially incompetent and didn’t file necessary motion in a timely manner or prepare your defense. You can show that the plea was not knowing and voluntary. Usually in circuit court, they’re going through a long list of questions so that the court can be satisfied that the plea is voluntary.
Finally, you can appeal on jurisdictional grounds if the court didn’t have jurisdiction at the time of the incident so that the offense didn’t occur in Montgomery County or you were a juvenile at the time or something like that. Instances such as these are fairly rare, so a case in circuit court could be much harder to appeal than a case from district court.