Somerset DUI Stops
The first thing an officer is going to look for when stopping someone in Somerset is a violation of the traffic law, which could be as simple as a speeding violation. Most often, when somebody is pulled over, the officer has no suspicion initially of the person consuming alcohol until they make contact with the driver and either smell alcohol or notice the person’s speech is slurred or unnatural.
If an officer is specifically looking to see if somebody might be driving under the influence, they are looking for indicators like the car not staying in one lane or crossing the shoulder line or the center line. Other indicators could be failing to maintain speed or crossing into the other lane. These could all be potential indicators the person is under the influence and will cause them to be stopped and potentially arrested, thereby making it important a Somerset DUI lawyer is contacted.
The typical DUI stop process will start with an officer pulling the car the over, approaching the car, and asking to see the driver’s license and registration. They will notify the driver of why they have been pulled over. At that point, a DUI investigation may begin, because the officer may detect an alcohol odor or notice the driver’s behavior is a little bit unusual, which is going to make the officer suspicious.
It is important for drivers to understand an officer’s testimony at trial is going to include every observation they make from the time they observe the car, pull it over, and make contact with the driver. All of their observations from that interaction can be testified in court.
Mistakes to Avoid
A lot of people do not understand that they have the right to refuse to perform field sobriety tests when they are stopped and suspected of a DUI. People have a natural impulse to do what they are asked, but under Maryland law, they have the right to refuse and to ask to consult with an attorney beforehand. Most officers find this frustrating, but this is the difference between the state having evidence that the person is impaired and not. Another mistake people make is giving too much information to the police by being cooperative and answering all of their questions. If they make statements about how much they had to drink and all the alcohol that they consumed, they are giving a lot of information they do not have to give that would not help their case.
Another mistake people make is not asking to speak with an attorney before deciding whether or not to take a breathalyzer. That can be the one piece of evidence by itself that can cause someone to be convicted of a DUI. It is not something that should be taken lightly, and it is worth taking the time to try and get in touch with an attorney to have a conversation about. The opportunity to speak to an attorney is limited, as there is a two-hour window under the statute where an officer can attempt to get a breath test done. There is the possibility that the officer could mark that the person refused the breath test if they think they are being difficult or trying to prolong things. If someone is able to, it would be beneficial to get advice from an experienced attorney.
After An Arrest
Typically, a person would be placed under arrest wherever the stop in question took place. If they agree to take a breathalyzer test after being arrested, they would be transported to the Somerset County barracks of the Maryland State Police.
Sometimes the breathalyzer machine at the barracks is not available. If that is the case, they could potentially be transported to the Salisbury barracks so that their breathalyzer machine can be used.
If the person chooses not to take a breathalyzer test, oftentimes they will be transported to the police department of the agency that placed them under arrest. There, they will be processed, asked questions, and then most likely released with their citations.
Refusing a Breathalyzer Test
Every driver has the right to refuse to take the breathalyzer test. When one is arrested for a DUI, they can expect that the police officer is going to advise them of their right refuse to take the test. This is done via a written form that the police officer will provide to the driver.
The officer will also read out loud from the form and allow the driver to follow along. In some cases, the Maryland State Police have recently begun using a recording on their laptop in the police car of someone reading the form out loud.
This form advises the driver of what could happen if they choose to take the test and blow a particular breath test result. It also explains the consequences of refusing to take the test.
Consequences of Refusal
The consequences of a refusal can be severe. If someone refuses to take the test, they would lose their license for 120 days if it was their first offense. If it was their second, they would lose the privilege to drive for a year.
It is also important to understand that if a person takes a breath test and their result is sufficiently low, they may be eligible to get a restricted license, which means that they would still be able to drive to work or school.
This ability to apply for a restricted license is forfeited, however, if the person refuses to take a test. In that case, the only option for them to be able to drive is to participate in the ignition interlock system program.