When you get into some sort of trouble you really don’t want to be in, what do you do? Exactly — you try to get out of it. Not because you’re guilty, not because you’re hiding anything, but because trouble isn’t fun. As kids, “getting out of trouble” mostly means being very cute about it or innocently lying to cover up your tracks, but as adults, things are a bit more complicated.
When you get into trouble as an adult, that usually means LEGAL trouble — and you definitely don’t want to try to “innocently lie” to get out of it (being very cute also rarely works). Then again, you don’t want to own up to anything (or admit to something you didn’t do for the sake of ease) because the “trouble” you face is a serious conviction and time behind bars. So, what do you do?
Why, you hire a skilled Annapolis criminal defense attorney like me, of course! Me, being a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney whose sole job is getting people like you out of trouble like that. Just like kids, we sometimes make mistakes (or appear to) and get caught, such as allegedly driving under the influence. Unlike kids, though, you have a myriad of options available to you as long as the right legal professional is working on your case.
How do DUI charges work in Maryland?
One of the worst legal mistakes you can make is assuming something will never happen to you. I don’t just mean assuming you won’t get caught, too (though — don’t do that either). The fact of the matter is you can get pulled over and charged with a DUI even if you’re not actually drunk behind the wheel, and this is truly due to one reason and one reason only: it’s up to the cops.
Sure, cops need probable cause to pull you over and so they’ll look for obvious things like weaving lanes, driving too slow or too fast, tailgating, and any number of suspicious driving activities, but claiming they had that cause is all they need to stop and charge you. Even just a busted taillight can work as an excuse for them. Once you’ve stopped, they’ll look for any excuse to take you in.
Breathalyzers and field tests are not nearly as foolproof as cops want you to think, but they still use and treat them as such — and refusal to take either is an immediate arrest. Of course, you’ll likely be arrested anyways, which is why we actually recommend refusing and taking the arrest if you actually are under the influence, as then, at least, they won’t have chemical “proof” against you.
Once you’re in custody, you can be charged with either a DUI or a DWI, depending on the circumstances of your arrest and how much alcohol you have in your system. It’s common for you to be charged with a DWI without a breathalyzer test (or if the breathalyzer shows your BAC is .07 instead of the .08 DUI requirement), and as those are typically lesser charges, that’s what you want if it has to be anything. However, BOTH charges are criminal, and BOTH can mean jail time, fines, a loss of driving privileges, and a whole host of other collateral damage.
Oh, and, uh — you can also be charged with either a DUI or a DWI for being stoned, high off prescription medication (even if you need it to survive), or under any sort of impairing substance. If you’re thinking of reassuring the cop that “it’s just weed and four Benadryl,” that conversation will not end the way you are hoping.
Collateral consequences of DUIs
Because drinking and driving IS truly a dangerous practice that kills a lot of people, lawmakers want to make sure the penalties are as severe as possible. This isn’t just to punish those they find guilty but to, ideally, deter future offenders from making the same decisions. Of course, this rarely works, as habitual drunk drivers often have deeper problems like addiction that they can’t exactly opt out of. Additionally, we all know that drunk people think they’re in more control than they actually are, so they assume they’ll be fine and won’t be caught. When they do, though, they have to worry about far more than just jail time and fines.
DUIs often carry sentence enhancements with them as a way to boost their severity. Sometimes this is longer prison sentences or heftier fines, but usually, they also include ignition interlock devices you have to breathe into to be able to drive, suspensions and restrictions on your license, or — in cases of extreme accidents or repeat DUI offenders — a complete loss of driving privileges. Those with DUI convictions on their records also face non-legal issues, like trouble getting housing, employment, cars, or, you know, friends. Just one mistake, one conviction, and you can kiss your reputation goodbye.
DUI defense attorneys can help in any situation — yes, sometimes with deals
So, you wanna make a deal. Let’s say you’ve been charged with a DUI, and let’s say, for the sake of this argument, you did it. You had one too many and you got behind the wheel and you got caught. Now what? Surely, you don’t have to just kiss your rights goodbye, right?
RIGHT!! For once, that is entirely RIGHT! You do not have to give in or accept any charges or convictions without a fight, no matter the circumstances. That is the whole point of hiring a criminal defense attorney; we know how to mitigate as many problems as possible and make sure you’re treated as fairly as possible. Obviously the first “deal” we go after is trying to get the charges against you dropped, and that’s where we’d argue things like the credibility of your arresting officers and their alleged probable cause, the way they administered any tests if applicable, and a whole host of other defenses that apply, but we do so much more than just casting doubt on the prosecution and their evidence.
We perform our own investigations on your behalf, gathering and poring over relevant evidence like security or dash cam footage, witness testimony, medical records, and police reports, and we also adapt to any situation you may be in to help in any way possible. A deal like you’re imagining might not be possible, but options such as rehabilitation treatments in lieu of jail time, probation with ignition interlock devices, or simply just payment plans for fines all exist for you to take advantage of — with an attorney’s help. We can even help you appeal court decisions or fight to get your license back.
Whether the dash cam footage shows you with vodka or shows a cop planting some, your criminal defense attorney knows how to help. And if you’ve just been charged with a DUI, you have precious little time to get started on your case. For those in Annapolis or Ellicott City, my firm – Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law – is here to answer your questions, address your concerns, and get to work on securing your freedom. Call today or use my contact form, and don’t trust anything the cops tell you in the meantime.
Just remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!