If you are arrested for a DUI (less than .08% BAC) or DWI (.08% BAC or higher) in Maryland, your options may be affected by various factors including the method of traffic stop, the methods used by law enforcement to obtain grounds for arrest, and the evidence gathered following arrest leading to formal criminal charges. Because this can be a complex mix of elements, an attorney's assistance is often essential.
Addressing Impending Administrative Penalties in Maryland
Within ten (10) days following arrest, resident Maryland drivers must schedule an administrative hearing, otherwise their license will be automatically suspended for at least forty-five (45) days up to ninety (90) days for offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher, and significantly longer for repeat DUI offenders or those arrests involving refusal to submit under implied consent laws.
Maryland DUI Defense: Plea Options
Generally speaking, a defendant will at least initially plead not guilty to any criminal charges at the initial arraignment, as well as at any ensuing juncture, unless otherwise on the advice of legal counsel. For defendants, the two main plea options include not guilty or guilty.
- Guilty plea. Most jurisdictions have a running, standard plea deal available for first time DUI offenders charged with a single DUI offense. These plea deal often prevent incarceration, less the initial police booking process, but often involve prolonged probation periods and other costly conditions to complete a sentence. The alternative sentence imposed via a plea deal may or may not dismiss a criminal conviction. Any plea deal should be brokered via legal counsel, who can understand and communicate the implications of any conviction.
- Not Guilty Plea. A plea of not guilty indicates that you intend to fight the charge for now. At any point during a criminal case, a defendant can switch and enter a guilty plea -- for example if the prosecutor offers a favorable plea deal.
- Nolo contendre. In a limited number of cases, a nolo contendre plea (meaning "I will not contest") in lieu of a guilty plea may be advisable in light of case-specific circumstances, such as DUI cases stemming from accidents with potential civil litigation in the future. It is not advisable to make such a plea unless you have been advised to do so by an attorney.
Maryland DUI Defense Methods
Common DUI defense methods employed in Maryland DUI cases, include:
- Insufficient Evidence to Demonstrate DUI or DWI. Any criminal charge hinges on the prosecutor’s ability to present evidence that indicates a defendant’s guilt per the requisite legal standards. Without sufficient admissible evidence -- for examplem, the officer lacked probable cause to stop your car, a criminal case will likely be dismissed.
- Inaccurate Chemical Testing. In Maryland, a DUI is an arrest for less than .08% BAC while a DWI charge is based on .08% or more. These cases typically hinge on the BAC sample extracted from a defendant at the time of arrest. Contesting the admissibility of the sample, including defense claims probing the legality of the sample draw, the accuracy of the sample itself, the accuracy of the testing devices, the chain of custody of the evidence, and the legal viability of the testimony methods are all common defense tools.
For additional information surrounding DUI laws in Maryland, see the links below.
Getting Legal Help with Maryland DUI Cases
For more information and insight into possible DUI defense strategies in your case, consult with a Maryland defense lawyer.