As your children grow older, it’s natural to anticipate that they might experiment with alcohol at parties, whether they’re of legal drinking age or minors. However, it’s crucial to recognize that a DUI charge should not be taken lightly, as the associated penalties can be severe and have a significant impact on their educational and career aspirations. Furthermore, if your child is stopped while driving under the influence with other underage friends in the vehicle, the consequences can become even more serious.
Facing criminal charges can be terrifying and confusing, especially to someone as inexperienced as a young adult who’s never been in trouble with the law before. It’s in these instances that having a DUI defense attorney is a crucial asset to have on your side as they can confidently handle your case, and craft a defense that could save your child from having a ruined record.
What’s Maryland’s laws on DUI?
According to Maryland Transportation Code § 21-902 (2022), driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. For a first-time offense, individuals may be subject to a maximum sentence of one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. However, for a second offense, the penalties become more severe, potentially leading to a maximum of 2 years in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. It’s important to note that any prior convictions related to similar offenses within a five-year period will be considered as previous convictions, which can result in harsher consequences.
Additionally, the law also prohibits driving while impaired by alcohol, regardless of whether your blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit of 0.08. A first-time offense of impaired driving can lead to a sentence of up to two months in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. If you’re convicted for a second time, the penalties escalate to a potential imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $500, or both.
How does being charged with DUI with a minor differ?
Even if your teen or college student was just a little buzzed when they were driving their underage friends (18 years or younger) around, that doesn’t matter. Driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle carries worse penalties. For a first offense, this can result in a potential sentence of up to two years in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. In the case of a second offense, the consequences become even more severe, with the possibility of facing up to three years in jail, a fine of up to $3,000, or both.
These harsh penalties also extend to cases where an individual is found driving impaired by alcohol with a minor in the vehicle or driving impaired by drugs with a minor present. In both instances, the law emphasizes stricter consequences to discourage such behavior and protect the safety of minors on the road.
What long term consequences can a DUI/DWI have for my kid?
If your child is charged with a DUI or DWI, it can seriously interrupt the plans for their future. Are they a prospective student for any colleges? That might change now because college admissions can check criminal charges of their candidates, and they are far more likely to admit someone with a clean criminal record over someone who was shown to drive while drunk.
Maybe your kid graduated college, and is about to apply to their first job or their dream job. It doesn’t look good to an employer when the prospective employee they’re looking at was arrested for something as easily avoidable as driving under the influence with their friends.
And if your child just so happens to get into an accident because of their drunkenness? Now you have to worry about legal fees for a personal injury claim against them. What if the person your child hit was injured or killed during the accident? Maybe the minor they were driving around was paralyzed by the accident? These mistakes come with a heavy toll to pay, financially, mentally, and physically when they’re put behind bars in a prison for years.
How can an Annapolis DUI attorney help me?
I know I’ve been talking about some heavy stuff, but all is not lost. With the help of a DUI defense attorney, your child is far more likely to avoid a DUI conviction. From collecting evidence, to talking with witnesses, and collecting police and medical reports, I will work diligently to find the best way to handle your child’s case.
My firm can employ various defenses to advocate for your child’s innocence or seek a reduction in charges.
Some common defenses include:
- Lack of probable cause. I may argue that the police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant’s vehicle or lacked probable cause to make the DUI arrest. If the traffic stop was unlawful, any evidence gathered afterward might be deemed inadmissible.
- Inaccurate field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are often not reliable indicators of impairment. I can challenge the validity of these tests, arguing that factors such as weather conditions, medical issues, or nervousness could have affected the results.
- Breathalyzer accuracy. The accuracy of breathalyzer tests can be challenged on various grounds, including improper calibration or maintenance of the device, your child’s physiological factors (like acid reflux), or the officer’s incorrect administration of the test.
- Blood test issues. If a blood test was conducted, I can question the chain of custody, potential contamination of the sample, or the qualifications of the medical professional who drew the blood.
These are just a few of the many possible ways in which I can defend your kid. The defenses change based on the facts of the situation.
If your child has been charged with a DUI (maybe with a minor in the car), you definitely need the help of a skilled DUI/DWI defense attorney. Fortunately, there’s me and my team of experienced legal professionals at Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, to help you. With offices in Annapolis or Ellicott City, we are here to meet you where you’re at, and offer our skilled opinions and dedicated work. To schedule an appointment call today or use my contact form, and only cooperate with the police as much as is necessary, but don’t trust what they say. Keep your lips shut until we can be there to help.
Just remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!