Driving under the influence (DUI) is considered such a serious offense because it can put drivers, passengers, law enforcement, and others on the road in grave danger. In addition to the risk of injury or death, the legal consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe, including fines, license suspension, license revocation, increased insurance rates, and even imprisonment. To ensure the safety of everyone and avoid these dire consequences, it is crucial to make responsible choices when it comes to drinking and driving. The goal of this blog post is to equip you with the knowledge and awareness you need so that you can make better decisions when it comes to drinking and driving.
Understand Maryland’s DUI Laws and Penalties
In Maryland, first-time DUI offenders face jail time of up to one year, heavy fines, a suspended or revoked driver’s license, mandatory court-ordered treatment, and an interlock device being placed in your car. A second or subsequent DUI offense is even more serious. If caught drinking and driving for the second time in five years, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense. For felony offenses, punishments can include large fines (up to $5,000), jail time of up to three years, an extended license suspension period (up to five years), alcohol treatment programs, and other harsher penalties.
Never Drink and Drive: Have a Plan Before Going Out
The ONLY option to guarantee the safety of yourself and others, and avoid legal jeopardy is to never drink and drive. No matter how much you plan ahead, accidents can happen and you may find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s why it’s important always to have a plan for how you’re getting home after a night of drinking.
First, make sure to have a designated driver who will not be drinking; or call a dependable cab or ride-sharing service ahead of time so that they can come to pick you up and drop you off when needed. If your plan is to drive yourself, make sure to stay within the legal limits by limiting your alcohol intake, eating, drinking water, and waiting before getting behind the wheel.
Do not rely on your ability to make a good decision after you have been drinking. One trick that may help is that you can set up a reminder on your phone before you go out. That way, if you’re in a situation where drinking becomes more than anticipated, all it takes is one look at your phone to remind yourself that you thought about it when your were sober and decided that if you drank you would not get behind the wheel.
If Stopped by Police, Know Your Rights but Cooperate
When it comes to interacting with the police, it’s important to know and respect your rights but also cooperate. Failing to the officer’s instructions and being difficult could turn out poorly for you in court. Most police agencies record video of traffic stops. If you are acting disrespefully you are providing video evidence of your behavior to be played in front of the judge or jury deciding your case.
Here are a few tips on what to do if stopped by the police:
- Stay calm and civil with the officer. Don’t argue or be confrontational.
- Don’t offer any more information than necessary. Be polite, but don’t tell stories or say anything that could be used against you in court. Politley decline to answer questions that would tend to incriminate you.
- If stopped while driving, present your driver’s license, registration, and insurance at the officer’s request without hesitation or argument.
Remember – police officers may the right to look through your car. A neat, organized car won’t make the difference, but it wonb’t hurt either.
Hire an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney to Examine the Evidence
Having an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side can be essential to avoiding a DUI conviction. An experienced lawyer can help by:
- Examine the evidence from law enforcement and the prosecution in order to uncover any discrepancies that may work in your favor. For example, if there were errors made during the initial stop, or if the breath or blood tests used to determine intoxication were not administered correctly, then these issues could be used to build a strong defense.
- Determining whether you have any constitutional rights relating to your case that may need to be argued in court. In some situations, having an attorney on your side can provide the protection of basic due process rights that you would otherwise not have access to.
- Negotiating with prosecutors and law enforcement officials for more lenient charges and sentences.
To summarize, when it comes to avoiding a DUI conviction, the best course of action is always to drive sober. However if you find yourself accused of DUI an experienced DUI defense attorney from Ferrante & Dill, LLC will offer knowledgeable representation and support throughout every step of the judicial process, guiding you through any legal obstacles that might arise along the way and helping you get the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us for a free consultation at (410) 535-6100.
This blog post that is published by Ferrante & Dill is only available for informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice. By viewing these blog posts, the reader understands there is no attorney-client relationship between the blog publisher and the reader. The blog post should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and we recommend readers to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.