Drunk driving takes a terrible toll across the United States every year as thousands die in motor vehicle crashes, where alcohol is a factor. In Maryland, nearly 25% of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related.
The best way to avoid potentially life-threatening injuries or legal consequences is not to drink and drive. However, if you are stopped by an officer who suspects you of DUI or DWI, you need to understand your rights.
Five actions to take after being stopped
Officers must have probable cause to pull you over, such as weaving in and out of traffic, drifting into other lanes or for broken tail or brake lights. When pulled over, here are five things to consider:
- Pull over as quickly and safely as possible, stop your vehicle and stay in the car, remove any hats, hoods or sunglasses and keep your hands on the wheel
- Be polite to officers as getting angry, using foul language or disobeying their orders could result in additional charges
- Invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, so you do not run the risk of putting yourself in further jeopardy by admitting to drinking alcohol
- While you want to be respectful, understand that being candid about what you’ve had to drink, where you’ve been as well as who you’ve been with are not helpful to your case
- While this may be a scary situation, remain calm if you are arrested and ask for a lawyer when speaking with officers
Maryland’s implied consent laws
While you have the right to refuse field sobriety and breath tests under Maryland’s impaired driving laws, understand that doing so may result in an immediate loss of driving privileges, which can last up to nine months. Drivers can challenge the suspension by requesting a hearing within 10 days of an arrest.
Being charged with DWI doesn’t mean you are guilty
Many people, once they are charged, feel there is little hope of being cleared of DWI. However, mistakes often happen during field sobriety and breath tests. An experienced defense attorney here in Maryland will protect your interests and help you avoid the potentially devastating personal and financial consequences.
In addition to making sure officers didn’t violate your rights, a lawyer with training in field sobriety and breath tests understands their flaws and will defend you by ensuring officers were properly trained to administer the tests.