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Rockville DUI Lawyer

More than a simple traffic violation, a DUI is a criminal offense that can lead to fines, jail time, and license suspensions, among other legal and administrative penalties. Legal consequences vary depending on the severity of the case, but even a minimum sentence has tremendous personal and financial ramifications.

Driving under the influence is a serious criminal charge best handled by a well-practiced defense attorney. If you are charged with drunk driving or another alcohol-related driving offense, take action to protect your rights and privileges by hiring an experienced Rockville DUI lawyer who could organize a strong defense on your behalf.

Penalties for a DUI Charge

Under Maryland Transportation Code §11-174.1, a person can be charged with driving under the influence if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle on a roadway in Maryland with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. This is a serious offense that may be punished with jail time and severe fines.

As a Rockville attorney can attest, the minimum punishment for a first-time DUI charge is up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, the possibility of a suspension of their license, and 12 points which could result in the revocation of their license, as per §21-902. Repeat offenses could lead to more severe penalties.

There is also the negative social stigma that comes with these charges, especially when the individual is required to have an interlock device in their vehicle. A DUI is placed on the individual’s criminal record permanently as it cannot be expunged under Maryland law.

People with a DUI conviction could also have difficulty obtaining employment, as potential employers could see these charges as a negative character trait. Furthermore, the immediate impact of the loss of one’s privileges could have a significant effect on their everyday life.

DUI Penalties for People Under the Legal Drinking Age

If someone is under the age of 21 and they have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, they will likely be facing additional charges, codified under §16-113. Students may also have to deal with penalties from their university. Those under the age of 18 are also likely to face additional criminal charges should they be arrested for a DUI.

In such cases, it is invaluable to contact a local attorney to provide guidance throughout the DUI case. Obtaining legal representation for an intoxicated driving case gives someone the opportunity to fight their charge with solid defense strategies. A skilled defense attorney could also provide aid in the MVA hearing process following a DUI in Rockville.

DUI Arrests

A DUI arrest often follows what seems to be a simple traffic stop for a minor infraction. If an officer has any suspicion that someone has been driving under the influence, they will likely ask them to perform a series of field sobriety tests and to submit to a roadside breath test.

It is important to remember that they have the right to remain silent when asked any questions about where they have been and whether they have been drinking. Although Maryland follows implied consent laws that require them to submit to a blood alcohol analysis test after an arrest, they are not required to submit to a roadside breath test. A Rockville DUI attorney could answer any necessary questions.

Constitutional Issues in Intoxicated Driving Cases

Constitutional issues play a major role in DUI cases. Fourth Amendment issues that come up during DUI cases have to do with why a person was initially stopped. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unlawful searches and seizures by police officers. If the person in the vehicle was not properly stopped then anything that happens as a result of that stop is considered inadmissible.

Similarly, Rockville lawyers familiar with DUI cases see issues with the Sixth Amendment in the courts on a regular basis. This amendment guarantees a person’s right to a speedy trial. These issues come up in driving under the influence cases locally where there is a backlog of DUI cases to be heard. If too long a period of time has gone by between the time the person was charged and the time their case is heard, the court will sometimes throw the case out because there was unfair procedure and the defense could not adequately do its job. Examples include when witnesses are missing and evidence such as surveillance tapes becomes unavailable due to the length of time between the crime and the trial.

There are sometimes issues associated with how a person was advised of their rights once they were arrested and offered a chemical breath test. Those kinds of issues implicate the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. In Maryland, a person does not have to submit to any chemical breath test or other kinds of tests once they are placed under arrest. Most of the time individuals will be given a form to review and can choose to waive their rights under the Fifth Amendment. However, if they are not properly advised of their rights then the resulting breath, blood, or urine test or statements, are usually suppressed by the court.

Alcohol Education Programs

Depending on the severity of the driving under the influence case, a defendant may be required to attend an alcohol education program. This can range anywhere from eight to 26 hours of outpatient treatment where a person will go to class, hear from other people who have been charged or may have lost family members as a result of DUIs, and learn about the danger of driving under the influence of alcohol. Once the course is completed, a certificate is offered to the individual that can be used by a Rockville DUI defense attorney in mitigation to the judge.

Impact of a DUI on Insurance

Usually insurance is not involved in a DUI immediately. Insurance will only get involved after the driving under the influence charges are resolved in court. Insurance is usually triggered when an individual receives points from their DUI, which can only be assessed after the judge makes a ruling about a conviction.

Individuals should not speak to their insurance provider unless they contact a DUI attorney in the Rockville area first who could provide important guidance. Most of the time people who have first or second time DUI offenses, where there is no car accident, do not need to affirmatively report those charges to their insurance companies. Once the case is resolved in court, and if they are convicted, the insurance company may need to be notified.

Appealing a DUI Case

People can appeal a DUI case in Rockville with an attorney with what is called a de novo appeal, which allows the case to be heard by the Circuit Court with a brand new trial. In other words, a person is returning with a completely clean slate for the appeal of their DUI case. The things that will travel with them are pieces of testimony from their original case which were taken under oath, including the testimony of the defendant, if there was any. The Circuit Court finder of fact, whether a judge or a jury, can then hear exactly what they stated on the record and it can be used against them in the appeal.

The judge will be listening to the arguments of both the state and the defense on whether or not there was a Constitutional violation. The judge ultimately makes the determination of whether or not there was a violation based on his or her interpretation of the law.

Contact a Rockville DUI Attorney for Help

Experienced attorneys understand the complexities of a DUI case from the arrest through trial and could challenge the prosecution on the legality of a traffic stop or the administration of any sobriety tests. A lawyer could also provide answers on what an expert witness does in a DUI case and how the defense can use these witnesses to their advantage.

A Rockville DUI lawyer could diligently examine every angle of your case to unveil the best course of action for your defense. In addition to providing you with sound legal assistance, they could also clear up myths related to these charges. To learn more about how an attorney could help you, call us today.