Five Defenses Against DUI Charges in Maryland
If you have been arrested for a DUI or DWI in Maryland, it is crucial that you speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The penalties for a DUI or DWI conviction are serious and include losing your license, facing mandatory fines, and possible jail time. A criminal defense lawyer can begin investigating the circumstances of your arrest and develop a compelling legal defense strategy.
Every DUI case is different, and your legal strategy will depend on the facts of your case. The best DUI defense also depends on which types of mistakes law enforcement officers make. Every DUI case is different, but some common defenses discussed below may apply in your case.
You Were Not Given a Chance to Contact an Attorney
Every suspect in a DUI or DWI case has the right to a defense attorney during a criminal investigation. The right to an attorney is crucial in DUI investigations because of the time frame involved. When a person has consumed alcohol, time is of the essence. As time goes on, the suspect’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will decrease.
If you are suspected of a DUI, you need an attorney present right away. DUI suspects have a right to consult with an attorney if it will not unreasonably delay or impede the DUI investigation. When law enforcement officers deny a suspect the right to speak to an attorney, the suspect’s lawyer can file a motion to dismiss or suppress evidence with the court. The lawyer will allege that the suspect was deprived of the right to counsel, and the state must prove that receiving counsel would have interfered with the DUI investigation.
Otherwise, the court must suppress any evidence gathered during the time period when the defendant was denied a right to counsel. In many cases, this leads to a judge dismissing the defendant’s case. If you have been arrested for a DUI and you are not afforded the right to legal counsel, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible about attempting to have your charges dismissed.
The Police Officer Engaged in an Illegal Stop
Police officers cannot pull over any driver they choose. Instead, they must have a reasonable and articulate basis to believe that the driver is violating a Maryland traffic law or another type of law. The prosecution has the burden to prove that they obtained evidence against the suspect lawfully under the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.
If the police officer in your case pulled you over without any reasonable basis that you were violating a traffic law or other law, any evidence gathered could be thrown out. Police officers must have more than a guess or a hunch to pull people over. the officer will need to prove an objective reason for the stop. If they cannot, any seizure of evidence, such as the breathalyzer test results, can be thrown out.
Your defense attorney will be able to review the facts in your case and determine whether you should file a motion to suppress evidence because the law enforcement officer did not have a legal justification to pull you over.
The Breath Alcohol or Blood Alcohol Test Was Inaccurate
Most police officers rely on a breathalyzer test or blood test to determine how intoxicated the suspect is when they pull him or her over. As with any other medical test, there is always a chance that the machine malfunctions or that the lab tech makes a mistake when interpreting the data. Breathalyzer tests determine how many breath alcohol particles are in your lungs and use that data to determine the level of alcohol in your blood.
A single breathalyzer test is not enough to get an accurate reading of a person’s blood alcohol levels in many cases. Breath alcohol testing relies on the assumption that a single partition ratio is correct. However, some different variances in human physiology can result in individuals having different partition radios than the breathalyzer test ratio.
Variations in body temperature during the test Administration can provide false high ratings. Even the breathalyzer itself has an inherent 10% margin of error, and this margin of error can cause false high readings. Finally, there can be other causes for a suspect to receive a high rating other than alcohol consumption.
The Field Sobriety Test Was Invalid or Inaccurate
There is a wide variance in how police officers conduct field sobriety tests. Even though these tests are supposed to be standardized, they often are not in practice. The test should be instructed, given, and performed exactly the same to be an effective predictor for “cues of impairment.” Unfortunately, field sobriety tests are perhaps only 60% to 70% accurate. When they are performed on people with disabilities, elderly individuals, or overweight individuals, they can be completely invalid.
There Was No Evidence of You Driving a Vehicle
Prosecutors must prove that the suspect was driving a vehicle or actual physical control of a vehicle to secure a DUI conviction. In some cases, suspects are sitting in their driver’s seat waiting to regain sobriety before they turn on the engine. Defense lawyers can use this evidence to argue that the defendant was not in physical control of the vehicle and, thus, cannot be convicted of a DUI.