DUI/DWI Defense Lawyer in Annapolis and Ellicott City

Aggressive defense for drivers charged with DUI/DWI in Howard and Anne Arundel Counties

Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) is a frightening experience. For many people, it’s their first criminal charge and first interaction with the criminal justice system. What starts as a night out with friends can end up with you in handcuffs and your car impounded. It’s a stressful situation. Convictions usually mean time in jail, a loss of driving privileges, fines, and increased insurance rates. The good news? You don’t have to go it alone.

My name is Gill Andrew Cochran, and as an Annapolis DUI/DWI defense lawyer, I have represented numerous Anne Arundel County residents who are facing drunk driving charges. At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, clients receive the aggressive experienced help they need when criminal charges threaten their freedom. And if you don’t know whether or not to take the breath test, you can always call me from the station. If I need to come out there to visit you, I will.

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What’s the difference between a DWI and a DUI?

Both offenses, DWI and DUI, are criminal offenses. Both are based on the premise that driving while under the influence of a high level of alcohol is dangerous to both the driver and to others on the roadway. Statistically, according to the Maryland Highway Safety Office (MHSO) and the NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting (FARS), about 150 people die each year on Maryland roads due to drunk driving.

The key difference between a DWI and a DUI is that amount of alcohol in the driver’s system.

  • Driving under the influence. A DUI in Maryland is called, according to the Maryland Transportation Code, drunk driving per se. To be convicted of a DUI or drunk driving per se, your blood alcohol content (BAC):
    • Must be .08 or more for all drivers
    • Must be .04 or more for commercial drivers
    • Must be essentially zero for drivers under 21
  • Driving while impaired. This offense is considered somewhat less serious than a DUI. You can be charged with a DWI if your BAC is between .07 and .08. Even if you pass a police officer’s breath test, you can be charged with a DWI if you show signs of driver intoxication such as failing a field sobriety test, erratic driving, or slurred speech.

DWI and DUI charges also apply to boat operators as well as car, truck, or other vehicle drivers.

What are the potential consequences of a DUI or DWI charge in Maryland?

The penalties for a DUI are more severe for a DUI than a DWI, though both mean jail time, fines, and likely loss of driving privileges.

  • DUI penalties. The penalties for a DUI offense include the following:
    • A first offense conviction means one year in jail or a fine no more than $1,000 or both
    • A second offense can result in up to two years in jail and $2,000 in fines
    • The requirement to install an ignition interlock device (IID) device in order to drive. This device requires that drivers blow into the device before they can drive and at random intervals while driving. If the driver fails the test, the IID will disable the vehicle.

The length of the sentence may be more if a minor was in the vehicle.

  • DWI penalties. The penalties for a DWI offense are less severe than a DUI but still life-altering:
    • A first offense conviction can result in up to two months in jail and a $500 fine
    • A second offense conviction can result in a longer jail sentence and a higher fine
    • The requirement to install an IID device

Again, the penalties are more severe if a minor was in the vehicle.

In both DUI and DWI cases, a conviction can result in:

  • The loss of driving privileges, subject to an MVA hearing. You may lose your driving privileges just for refusing to submit to a breath test
  • Points on your driving record
  • Increased insurance premiums, if you’re lucky enough to find an insurance carrier that will provide insurance
  • The requirement to attend and alcohol treatment program
  • Surcharges
  • Community service

If you’re required to install an IID device, you will have to pay for the device, calibration checks, and the removal of the device.

What are some common defenses to a DUI charge?

When you secure the services of an experienced Annapolis DUI/DWI defense attorney, the planning of your defense begins immediately. I use my knowledge and strategy to determine what’s best for your case. An experienced DUI/DWI lawyer will challenge and contest your charges on several grounds, including:

  • The officer didn’t have a reasonable suspicion that you were driving while intoxicated. Police officers can’t pull anyone and everyone off the road. They must have a reasonable basis for believing a driver was drunk. Examples include swerving, speeding, and other traffic violations. If you were traveling according to the speed limit and not doing anything unusual, the police shouldn’t stop you.
  • The officer didn’t administer the field sobriety tests properly. There are three specific tests police officers should give initially. Other tests are generally invalid. The instructions for the test must be clear, and the tests must be giving according to standard procedures.
  • The officer failed to conduct the breath test properly. Police officers must use authorized breath test machines. They must administer the tests according to specific procedures. If the machines or the ways the tests were given were invalid, evidence of the breath test results should be suppressed.
  • The officer didn’t have proper authority to conduct a blood test. In some cases, a driver needs to be taken to a hospital. The police generally need to obtain a warrant to take anyone’s blood.

There may be other defenses too. An experienced DUI/DWI defense lawyer may be able to argue that the officer never saw you driving. For example, the officer may be called to the scene of an accident where the vehicles have already stopped. Other legal and factual defenses may apply.

As an Annapolis DUI/DWI defense lawyer, I work hard to defend your rights and driving privileges both within the court system and before the MVA. I will take your DWI case to trial, if necessary, to avoid a DWI conviction. Alternatively, I may be able to negotiate a fair plea bargain, such as having a DUI reduced to a DWI.

I may also be able to help you get a DUI conviction expunged from your criminal record when possible.

Annapolis Criminal Defense Lawyers

Get the help you need from a proven DUI defense attorney in Annapolis and Ellicott City

There’s a lot at stake with a DUI/DWI charge. Trust my experience and knowledge to defend you when you need it the most. When it comes to defending my clients against DUI or DWI charges, I use my 18 years of experience to develop a unique and effective strategy for each individual case. If you are facing drunk driving charges, call me in Annapolis or Ellicott City today at 410.777.8103 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.

And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.