Driving under the influence of alcohol, or DUI, is a serious criminal offense under Maryland law. Many people who are arrested for DUI mistakenly believe that there is nothing they can do to fight the case against them and simply plead guilty, hoping for the best. As a criminal defendant, keep in mind that the state is required to prove every element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt—the highest burden of proof in our justice system. In addition, even in cases where you do not plan on contesting the charges against you, it is often possible to obtain a plea bargain that minimizes the legal consequences that you are facing—and may even ultimately result in the dismissal of your case.
The representation of a Maryland DUI lawyer can often help resolve a DUI case much more favorably that you would be able to resolve it on your own. Consequently, it highly advisable for anyone facing accusations of drunk driving to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. At Alpert Schreyer, LLC, our Maryland DUI defense lawyers will review your case at no cost to you and advise you about your legal options. To schedule a free case evaluation, call our office today at (866) 444-6363 or contact us online.
Common DUI Defenses
After a DUI arrest, the deck can feel stacked against you. In many cases, people who have been stopped for drunk driving had been drinking before their arrest and may even believe that they were, in fact, over the legal limit. When an officer suspects that a driver is drunk, she will typically gather evidence in support of her position. This can include observations about the driver’s appearance and demeanor, requesting that the driver submit to roadside sobriety testing, and taking blood, breath, or urine samples for analysis.
Fortunately for drivers who have been arrested for drunk driving, legal defenses are often available. Typically, these defenses cast doubt on the accuracy of the results of sobriety testing or allege that the driver’s rights were violated in such a way as to make the evidence gathered inadmissible. Here are some common defenses raised in Maryland DUI cases:
Challenging the Reason for the Initial Traffic Stop
Federal case law requires that police have reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot to make a traffic stop. This means that the police officer making the stop must articulate the facts that caused her to believe that a crime had been committed. Examples that could justify a traffic stop include expired tags, weaving, driving too slowly, speeding, or malfunctioning or broken tail lights or headlights. If the police are unable to show that the traffic stop was justified, any evidence gathered during the stop could be inadmissible in court—including evidence indicating that the driver of the vehicle was drunk.
Establishing That You Have a Medical Condition That Can Cause Unreliable Breathalyzer Results
Many DUI cases hinge on the results of breathalyzer tests. These devices operate by analyzing a breath sample and using it to determine a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a medical condition in which the contents of a person’s stomach can be pushed back up the esophagus into the mouth. Studies have shown that this condition can cause excess mouth alcohol, which in turn has the potential to result in inaccurately high breathalyzer readings.
Arguing that the Breathalyzer Used in Your Case Was Improperly Calibrated
To provide accurate readings, a breathalyzer device must be properly calibrated before use. If you can show that it was not properly calibrated or that the officer using the device lacked proper training to calibrate one, the results may be inadmissible.
Many DUI Cases Are Resolved Through Plea Bargaining
Importantly, an attorney can often help you avoid the serious consequences associated with a DUI conviction, even if there are no legal defenses available. In fact, the vast majority of cases do not go to trial, but are instead resolved through plea bargaining. This process involves the defendant agreeing to plead guilty to reduced charges in return for the prosecutor recommending that the judge impose a lenient sentence.
Typically, the plea bargaining process involves negotiating a sentence or charge based on the strength or weakness of the prosecution’s case—which requires significant legal training to assess. For this reason, anyone seeking a plea bargain should retain an attorney before contacting the prosecutor handling his case.
Probation Before Judgement May Be an Option
In Maryland, some offenders can receive a deferred judgment—called probation before judgment—which is not a conviction and carries no points. Acceptance for probation before judgment is totally at the judge’s discretion, however, and for various reasons judges may reject people who are eligible for participation. As a result, if you would like to receive probation before judgment, speak to an attorney as soon as you can.
Call Alpert Schreyer, LLC, Today to Speak With a Maryland DUI Defense Attorney
A Maryland DUI conviction can have a significant impact on your professional and personal life. As a result, anyone facing a DUI charge should contact an attorney as soon as possible. At Alpert Schreyer, our Maryland DUI lawyers know how to defend against allegations of drunk driving, and are skilled negotiators who can often secure extremely favorable plea bargain agreements. For a free case evaluation with a lawyer, call our office today at (866) 444-6363 or send us an email through our online contact form.