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DUI/DWI & Traffic Frequently Asked Questions

Serving Baltimore City, and 24 Counties in Maryland

Free Initial Consultation and NO Fees or Costs Unless We Win

When you are charged with a traffic offense or a DUI, you must be represented by a good DUI , DWI attorney experienced in traffic matters such as DUI and drunk driving cases, DMV matters, felony and misdemeanor traffic defense. Baltimore Attorney Marc Atas is a highly-skilled attorney based in Baltimore, Maryland who represents individuals throughout Maryland who have been involved in a Traffic Offense.

DUI/DWI & Traffic Frequently Asked Questions

DUI Attorney Marc J. Atas has compiled a list of the most frequently asked DUI, DWI and Traffic related questions. If your question is not answered here, please feel free to contact us the question and we will be happy to answer it.

What happens when I am stopped by a police officer for driving under the influence (DUI)?

In a typical situation a police officer pulls a vehicle over for erratic driving behavior or for violating a traffic law such as running a red light, speeding or failure to attach a front tag.

At this point you have to make a decision. If you have had two drinks or less you may want to cooperate. If you have had more than two drinks you will probably be arrested for DUI whether you cooperate or not, so why help the State convict you.

Once the police officer approaches the car, the police officer may smell an odor of alcohol. As the police officer approaches your vehicle he begins to make observations as to your sobriety and starts asking some questions to aid in determining if you qualify as a DUI or not.

You are under no obligation to answer any of the questions the police officer asks regarding any drinking that you had done that evening. The only information you have to provide to the police officer is your license and registration and you owe the police officer no other obligation to answer any of the other questions.

Once the police officer smells an odor of alcohol on your breath, the police officer will typically ask you to exit the car and ask you to do field sobriety tests. In Maryland there are three standard field sobriety tests, including horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn test and finally the one leg stand test. There is no requirement that you do any of the field sobriety tests, however, I cannot remember the last time someone has refused unless they were too intoxicated to even perform the test. If you refuse to do the field sobriety tests, you will probably be arrested anyway, but it will make the State’s Attorneys job more difficult to prove that you were in fact driving while intoxicated when you go to court.

If you take the field sobriety test and fail them, then the police officer will place you under arrest for driving under the influence and then taken back to police station where you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test. Under Maryland Law if you do not take the breathalyzer test then your drivers license may be suspended, however, the fact that you did not take the breathalyzer test is not admissible in the traffic court proceeding at the District Court level. If you take the breathalyzer test and fail it, meaning you getting a .07 or higher then there is a presumption that you were driving under the influence (DUI), when the case goes to a court hearing. If you have had one or two drinks you probably will pass the breathalyzer test and you should go ahead and take the breathalyzer test. If you have had more than two drinks, then you will need to weigh what is more important to you. If you do not take the breathalyzer test, then your license will probably be suspended by the Motor Vehicle Administration.

However, if you take the breathalyzer test and fail the State’s case against you for DWI will be much easier to prove. If you are on a federal highway, like the Baltimore-Washington Parkway or federal property you do not have the right to refuse the breathalyzer test. After you take the breathalyzer test and blow a .07 or higher, then you will be taken before a court Commissioner who will then set a bail and release you on your own recognizance. If you cannot pay the bail, then you have a right to a bail review on the next available court date, at which time a District Court Judge will review your bail status and set a new bail. You have the right to have an attorney at the bail review and you also have the right to ask for an attorney before you decide to take the breathalyzer test. Once you are released from jail, your case will be scheduled for trial sometime in the next three to six months. Your trial will start out at the District Court level, unless you want a jury trial, then your case will be removed to the Circuit Court.

What typically happens when you go to traffic court in a DUI, DWI, Drunk Driving case?

If it is your first offense, the best disposition in your particular case, other than a not guilty would be a probation before judgment. If you are found guilty in a driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired case you will automatically receive either 8 or 12 points from the Motor Vehicle Administration which could result in suspension or revocation of your drivers license.

If you receive a probation before judgment and the court strikes the finding of guilty and places you on probation, then you do not receive any points from the Motor Vehicle Administration because it is not a guilty finding.

Often, in a first offense, unless there are aggravating circumstances like an accident, the defendant can receive a probation before judgment and will receive a fine and will have to attend alcohol classes and may have to attend AA meetings. A typical probation can last anywhere from six months to two years.

If the breathalyzer shows an extremely high reading like .15 or higher some judges are less likely to give you probation before judgement on your first offense and in some counties in Maryland might even consider jail time.

If the DWI case involves an accident without injuries,judges are less likely to give you probation before judgement on your first offense and in some counties in Maryland might even consider jail time.

If the DWI case involves an accident with injuries,judges are highly unlikely to give you probation before judgement on your first offense and in most counties in Maryland you will receive jail time.

If there are passengers in your car at the time of the DWI and if any of the passengers are children,judges are less likely to give you probation before judgement on your first offense and in some counties in Maryland might even consider jail time.

If drugs are found in your car as well as alcohol, judges are less likely to give you probation before judgement on your first offense and in some counties in Maryland might even consider jail time.

For a second DWI or more, then the State’s Attorney usually asks for a period of incarceration, as well as larger fines and longer periods of alcohol programs. It is extremely important to have an attorney. An attorney will be able to explore any possible defense in order to avoid conviction in the first place and then if convicted the attorney can aid you in avoiding the harshest penalties.

Consultation: matas@ataslaw.com
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