Allegany County DUI Attorney
A Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction in Maryland could lead to administrative, civil, and criminal penalties. If you are facing a DUI charge in Cumberland or elsewhere in Allegany County it is in your best interest to retain counsel who is well versed in both this particular area of law and the intricacies of the jurisdiction. Contact an Allegany County DUI lawyer today to discuss your case or schedule a free consultation with a Maryland DUI lawyer today.
In DUI cases, prosecutors need to prove two specific things in order to secure a conviction. First, they need to demonstrate that you were “driving.” To make this determination, a conclusion must be reached with respect to whether or not you were in actual physical control of the vehicle.
Second, the prosecution needs to show conclusive proof that you were in some way intoxicated at the same time that you were driving. Each specific DUI case is different, but a quality DUI attorney in Allegany County knows there are many options for defense open even when the evidence against the suspect seems overwhelming. Below is a brief discussion of some of the factors that an experienced Allegany County DUI lawyer will consider depending upon the specific facts of the case.
Reasonable Articulable Suspicion and Probable Cause
The arresting officer needs to show proof that he or she observed something about you or your driving that constituted reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime in order to have performed a stop. While the standard may sound like legal jargon, in practice it means that the threshold the officer has to meet to pull you over is low, as such a reason can include any traffic offense. Here, the burden is markedly less than probable cause.
If your Allegany County DUI lawyer can show that there was no reasonable articulable suspicion or that you were the victim of profiling, all evidence from the scene might be suppressed, and barred from being introduced at trial or used to sway a ruling by a judge or jury. Reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime should not be confused with probable cause, the latter being the standard required for the officer to request a breath test. If you answered in the affirmative when the arresting officer asked if you had been drinking, than the officer established probable cause, therefore meeting the standard to administer a breath test. Conversely, if you failed to answer or answered in the negative, the arresting officer would have had to establish probable cause by finding evidence of intoxication.
Evidence of intoxication can be found in a variety of ways, and one of the most common is by asking you to perform one or more of the standardized field sobriety tests. These tests are known as divided attention exercises, and they test your ability to perform a basic task such as walking heal-to-toe, or standing on one leg. Additionally, law enforcement personnel may administer the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, which is meant to detect an involuntary jerking of the eye. A seasoned Allegany County DUI attorney will be able to assess whether or not the battery of tests was performed according to the protocol that is in place for law enforcement personnel.
Challenging Chemical Test Results
While roadside breathalyzer and standardized field sobriety tests are optional for motorists who have been pulled over under suspicion of DUI (and law enforcement officers should inform the motorists of this fact), once a DUI suspect has been taken to a police station, he or she must submit to a chemical test or face automatic license suspension under Maryland law. If the results of the chemical test indicate the presence of an amount of alcohol or other drugs that is above the legal limit, this evidence will usually form the bulk of the state’s evidence in a DUI case. However, an experienced attorney will be able to determine if the chemical test was administered incorrectly, or if the equipment used may have been faulty or not calibrated. Depending upon the specific facts of your case, this can result in the suppression of evidence, which will be a major issue for the prosecution.
Effective Use of Witness Testimony
The majority of the evidence that is used against defendants in DUI cases comes from the testimony of the officer who placed you under arrest. Any of the following could be entered into a police report:
- Suspicious Behaviors – Driving behavior that may indicate intoxication, such as weaving, crossing lines, jumping curbs, ignoring lights and signs, etc.
- Signs of Intoxication – Observations made by the officer during the stop, such as slurred speech, lack of balance, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, hiccoughing, etc.
- Field Sobriety test – Failure to submit to the tests or failure to complete any part of the tests
If your attorney can successfully argue that the report was errant in any way, the officer’s testimony could be used via cross examination to cast doubt on the credibility of the prosecution’s case. If his or her counter-argument casts reasonable doubt, a jury must find you not guilty.
The prosecution will call every witness they can to testify against you, but your attorney can also call witnesses who can help you win your case. An experienced Allegany County DUI attorney will understand which individuals should be called to testify, and will act strategically in order to level the playing field. Defense witness testimony can be used to show:
- You were with the witness prior to the incident
- You were not drinking or taking drugs
- You appeared sober
- You were distracted by a passenger and missed a light or sign
Your lawyer will also attempt to cast doubt on prosecution witness testimony by arguing:
- You failed the Field Sobriety Test due to a physical condition (such as a natural nystagmus that can cause a false positive)
- You suffer from seasonal allergies which led to the bloodshot eyes
- The officer’s instructions and warnings were confusing and you felt too intimidated to ask for clarification
Allegany County DUI Lawyers Can Help
Your DUI lawyer can also defend you during your administrative hearing with the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). The purpose of this hearing is to determine the status of your driving privileges, and while this is not a criminal proceeding, it is in your best interest to retain counsel experienced with administrative law in Maryland. He or she can help license suspension and fines during this phase of your case. Many of the points argued in civil court will mirror those in the criminal case, but there are some key differences as well. When choosing a DUI attorney, therefore, you want one with an extensive array of experience in all aspects of DUI proceedings – administrative, civil, and criminal.
If you live in Cumberland or anywhere else in Allegany County and are fighting a DUI charge, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer with the Maryland Criminal Defense Group. Call today for a free consultation of your case. For help with MVA hearings, look here.