Since every state has their own mini-government, every state has (for the most part) their own laws. What’s illegal in one may be encouraged in another. What would bring about a decades’ long sentence in one may be a simple misdemeanor somewhere else. While this does sometimes make things confusing, it allows citizens to live in states that more closely reflect their own values.
However, some people think that this means they’re immune to the law when they travel. They get carried away with the knowledge that you can go to Colorado for a joint (though you can’t take it back!) and think that sort of thing applies to every law. Boy, they could not be more wrong. Listen carefully: driving drunk is ALWAYS illegal. Every state takes it seriously, and every state wants to prosecute you for it. Just because you’re passing through does not mean your license or freedom is safe, and that’s really not something you want to find out the hard way.
Live out-of-state but visiting Maryland? DUIs can find you either way
While every state may have their own systems, most of them still communicate with each other. Driving can be incredibly dangerous even without alcohol; they need a way to keep track of drivers they believe make it worse, and hold them accountable. Thanks to the National Driver Register and the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, this is possible. Any suspensions or points on your license can be seen by any entity that can issue licenses, and any officer can and will arrest you if you’re suspected of drunk driving — no matter what state you’re in or from.
So, if you expect immunity, you’re gonna be in a real…state, of shock. (See what I did there?)
But it’s true. If you’re arrested and charged with a DUI in another state, you may face consequences in both your home state and your vacation spot. Depending on the states involved, this could mean your charges are compounded, your license is suspended, and your future involves vertical metal bars.
Maryland is a little unique in that we don’t punish out-of-state licensees ourselves. If you’re visiting from somewhere else and an Annapolis cop charges you with a DUI, you will need to go to a Maryland court and get a Maryland conviction, but that conviction will then be forwarded to your home state for any penalties they decide on for you.
Live in Maryland but visiting out-of-state? You could be in trouble for that DUI
Let’s say you’re from the Annapolis area and you take a trip into a neighboring state to see some friends. You have a little more than you think you had at a local bar, and you get pulled over and charged for DUI.
Here’s what Maryland says will happen to your license once you get home:
If you received a conviction out-of-state, that state is obligated under the terms of the Driver License Compact (DLC) to notify the MVA. Upon receipt of the information, the MVA will update your driver record.
For many types of violations, the MVA will only record the conviction information on your Maryland driver record and will not assess points. However, if you have been convicted of one of the serious violations identified in Article IV of the Driver’s License Compact, the MVA will record both the conviction information and the points associated with it. The number of points assessed is equal to the number that would have been assessed if the conviction occurred in Maryland.
The MVA may also take other actions such as suspending or revoking your license, in accordance with Maryland law.
What happens in Vegas can and will follow you back to Maryland.
Annapolis DUI defense attorneys know what they’re doing
Whether you’re visiting or an Annapolis native, you still need an attorney if you’ve been charged with a DUI. The only way to avoid a conviction that follows you around is to defend yourself with the best legal tools possible. Criminal defense attorneys, especially those who focus on in DUI cases, know all those tools and how best to use them for your benefit. Listen — this isn’t about your pride. You don’t want to try to do this yourself. Prosecutors are tricky and always more biased than they admit, and they know how to tangle you in traps without you even knowing.
Attorneys know, though. It’s kinda the job to know.
So, how do they contest your charges? Poking holes in the story of your arrest is a common tactic, which involves your attorney challenging and questioning your arresting officer based on several grounds:
- No reasonable suspicion to support you being pulled over, meaning you didn’t break any traffic laws or have beer bottles falling out of your passenger side window.
- The field sobriety tests you had to take were administered improperly or unfairly. In other words, you shouldn’t be arrested because you couldn’t say the alphabet backwards in another language. (I can’t even do that sober, in English. Neither could the cop, probably.) They have specific tests they can administer and specific procedures they have to follow for each one.
- Your breath test was administered improperly and/or with invalid machines or methods. Again, cops can’t just decide to handle these situations however they want.
- The officer took a blood sample without a warrant or proper authority. Remember that they can’t force you to take a breath test, either. Failing to do so will result in some penalties, but it does take a good chunk of their alleged evidence away.
This is not a comprehensive list, and that’s part of what makes hiring an Annapolis DUI defense attorney so important. You cannot just google all the answers because a lot of them are tailored specifically to each client. Maybe the officer never technically saw you driving. Maybe you have an addiction and should be given help instead of a criminal conviction. Maybe you really just did it, but it was your first ever legal mistake after traumatizing or disconcerting circumstances. A good attorney can use the details of your case to your advantage without judging you, and it’s your best chance at getting out of this mess.
Of course it’s scary and stressful. Whether you drove under the influence or not, whether you’re from this state or not, being arrested and facing serious criminal charges is no easy, fun thing to go through. You want to protect your rights and stay out of jail but you also want to save as much money as possible. Lawyers are infamous for being pricy — no wonder people are tempted to forgo them when they shouldn’t. However, not only can lawyers save you from paying way more in the future, but most of them do not make you pay if you do not win. It can be daunting, but it really is worth every penny.
The Annapolis DUI defense attorneys at Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, care about your rights as much as you do, and we work tirelessly to protect and defend them. From answering your questions to building and presenting your case before a judge, we are proud to do everything we can, whenever we can. If you’re not in Annapolis, we also have an Ellicott City location, and you can call us any time at 410-271-1892 or use our contact form. Don’t wait to get the support you need.
And remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!