Building an Anne Arundel County DUI Defense
Building an Anne Arundel County DUI defense is a complicated process that might require the help of a well-practiced lawyer. Individuals who are facing DUI charges may not be familiar with all the legal requirements that must be met to mount a proper defense case. An accomplished DUI attorney could review your case and advocate for you. Call today and set up a consultation with a dedicated legal professional.
Common Constitutional Issues in Anne Arundel DUI Cases
The primary constitutional issue that arises in Anne Arundel DUI cases is whether the defendant was lawfully arrested. For an officer to arrest somebody on suspicion of DUI, they need probable cause and evidence to support that the person was impaired.
The officer cannot arrest a person on suspicion alone. Since arresting a person involves taking away their liberty and freedom, officers must have substantive evidence to do so. The Constitution protects everyone from unreasonable searches, seizures, and arrests by law enforcement.
If a person is pulled over for a traffic infraction and the officer smells the odor of alcohol, it is appropriate to perform a field sobriety test. There may be an argument in this scenario that denies the police the authority and ability to arrest the defendant if they did not have probable cause. In the past, individuals have tested well on the field sobriety tests but were arrested after admitting to drinking too much. After the arrest, the individual blew higher than a 0.08 at the police station.
The defendant, in this case, was found not guilty by virtue of the arrest being found illegal. Everything that occurs after an illegal arrest is suppressed. For an individual who is arrested in violation of their constitutional rights, it does not matter what the breathalyzer reading is, the evidence does not come in and they will be found not guilty. This is one of the key challenges in DUI cases.
Protections Granted by the Fourth Amendment in Drunk Driving Cases
There are a few protections granted by the Fourth Amendment and the Fifteenth Amendment. For instance, the initial traffic stop must be legal. As an example, an officer cannot pull a person over because they are wearing a hat with a beer logo on it. There must also be a lawful detention and lawful arrest of the person.
A frequent question asked by people who are asked to perform field sobriety tests is why the police did not read them their rights and the response is that they do not have to read them their rights since the police have a community-care type of function. The police have an obligation to ensure the roads are safe.
Even more important, if someone does not want to be the subject of DUI seizures, arrests, or traffic stops, they should not drive. When someone drives, it is a privilege and not a right. If they do not abide by the terms and conditions regarding legally driving a motor vehicle in the State, the person will lose the privilege to drive. One of the conditions of the privilege to drive is that they will submit to a questioning and field sobriety tests in a traffic stop if there is suspicion of DUI.
Other Constitutional Issues
While individuals who are over 21 have the right to drink, they cannot drive while impaired. Officers must verify whether the person was drinking alcohol. While there are various non-alcoholic options to do so, officers may also be required to follow the person to see if they were drinking. An Anne Arundel County lawyer could review various constitutional issues when building a DUI defense.
Which Interpretation of the Constitution do Anne Arundel Courts Follow?
In an ideal world, all judges, benches, and courtrooms are equal. If a police officer is involved in a constitutional violation, they should be subject to sanctions and the evidence should be suppressed. In reality, not all judges and courtrooms are equal. What may work in one courtroom may not work in another. It may come down to the luck of the draw as to which judge is hearing the case and would be ruling a suppression argument. It should be noted that the constitutional violations alleged are not always clear-cut.
A police officer rarely admits to pulling a person over without justification to see if they were drunk. Such a scenario typically would not apply in Maryland. What law enforcement will do is try to find a reason to pull someone over and then it is an argument about whether the judge would find that it a valid reason.
It is not so much which interpretation is utilized since the interpretation is clear. It is whether the specific judge hearing the case will assess the facts being presented in the particular case in accordance with established law.
How Anne Arundel Judges Treat Constitutional Issues
The judges in Anne Arundel County are well-attuned to the rules of evidence. This does not mean that judges do not make mistakes or that the prosecutors or defense attorneys do not disagree with them at times. The judges are well-versed because they see these cases on an almost daily basis and know what is not appropriate police conduct in a DUI encounter.
Using a Breath Test as a Defense Strategy
There is a protocol that must be followed regarding the breath test. For instance, the test must be conducted within two hours of the DUI incident regardless of whether the arresting officer knows how to administer the test. By law, it must be a separate officer than the one that arrested the defendant. The person who takes the test cannot have eaten, drank or have any foreign substance in their mouth in the 20 minutes preceding the test. This 20-minute time period is called the observation period. If any of these stipulations are not followed or abided by, there could be a potential challenge to the test itself.
Impacts of Alcohol-Based Product on a Person’s Breath
The use of cough syrup or mouthwash could potentially be used to challenge a DUI charge. While such products may justify why the officer smelled the alcohol when they first stopped the individual, it does not help if the person still smelled like alcohol and had it in their system an hour and a half later. The person’s breath and their mouth is cleared pretty regularly and if they had alcohol in their mouth through mouthwash before the test, the mouthwash is gone two hours later.
Information Defendants Should Provide to Their Lawyer
Anything and everything a person has regarding the DUI, right from beginning, should be provided to their attorney. A defendant should provide this information whether they believe it is relevant. Since mundane factors could be relevant, it is critical for attorneys to be informed. This includes:
- Whether the incident did not happen in the county where they were charged
- Whether the officer did not have jurisdiction
- Whether the two-hour timeframe was not complied with for the breath test
- If there was a questionable traffic stop
Anything and everything that can be utilized should be obtained to properly defend and present an individual. All this information could be vital for building an Anne Arundel County DUI defense.
What is Rising Blood Alcohol Defense?
When a person consumes alcohol, their body does not immediately absorb it. Therefore, if an individual drinks four shots of vodka in less than two minutes, they will not be drunk right away. Their level of intoxication could play out as follows:
- After about an hour, they will blow a 0.04
- After two hours, they will blow a 0.08
- After three hours, they will blow a 0.12
The difficulty is the breath test if it is conducted anywhere from 45 minutes to nearly two hours after the initial stop. If a person drank heavily before driving, it is possible that at the time of their driving, they were actually okay mentally and physically. However, the officer may have seen the infractions, smelled the alcohol, and then arrested the person. Since there was an hour-and-a-half delay from the time they were stopped until the breath test, they could be over 0.08.
A preliminary test by the side of the road frequently blows one number and then 45 minutes to an hour later, another test taken at the police station could be more accurate and substantially higher.
Evidence that Could be Used to Prepare a Defense Involving the BAC Level
To corroborate how much a person drank, an expert may need to be called in regarding absorption rates. If a person blows a 0.25, it would be different an hour earlier or an hour later and they may still be well within the limit.
If a person blows a 0.09 or 0.10, there could be a legitimate argument to be made. An expert could be contacted to testify:
- Based upon how much the defendant drank
- What their assessment of the defendant would be
- What the defendant blew at this point in time
- What the defendant blew after this period of time
While officers may believe that the individual would have blown a 0.06 at the time of the stop or something of that nature, only an expert could make such an elite conclusion. Judges and jurors are usually persuaded with this type of evidence if the expert is qualified, competent, and is addressing the points succinctly.
There are a variety of defense strategies that can be utilized by expert testimony, but that is dependent upon whether a person could afford an expert. It is important to note that experts are not cheap. They can be thousands of dollars in addition to the legal fees. While defense attorneys are limited by the defendant’s wallet, it might be enough to persuade a judge or a jury if a person can afford an expert who can testify favorably for the defense. An accomplished attorney who is familiar with building an Anne Arundel County DUI defense could use their experience to help accused individuals.
Independent DUI Blood and Urine Testing
If a person is arrested or charged with suspicion of DUI they will be asked to submit to an Intoximeter test, which is a breathalyzer. This is a test that provides the concentration of alcohol in a person’s system at the time of the testing. The test should be taken within two hours of the stop. This is because their body would begin to break down the alcohol after this time period.
Since a person’s blood alcohol level at 1:00 AM is different than where it would be at 4:00 AM, a subsequent test is not dispositive. It should be noted that if a person is presumed to be on some drug, it would be a different story. Drug tests are not based upon concentration. Instead, it is based upon presence.
If there is a suspicion that the individual was on an opiate and they are adamant that they did not take any opiates and no blood test was taken, there is no proof. Individuals should immediately get a blood test from a certified lab because drugs have a half-life. The half-life is the duration of time in which the substance remains in a person’s bloodstream.
The minimum anything stays in a person’s system is 48 hours and sometimes for even three, four, or even five days. If someone is arrested at 1:00 AM Tuesday on suspicion of being under the influence of an opiate and they did a test 5:00 PM that same day, it is impossible for them to have been on an opiate 16 hours earlier. Only an independent, legitimate test, which is not a take-home test, will be able to substantiate this.
Taking an independent blood-urine test after a DUI arrest would only be recommended would be if it was anything but alcohol. Alcohol breaks down in the body. By the time an independent test is done, there would be no remains of alcohol in the system. While a person could have had something to drink later, it would not be dispositive of anything about the way the person was. Anytime there is a question as to whether the test is correct, accurate, or if the person refuses the blood test and wants to establish their own proof that they were not under any substance, they could do so.
Who Administers and Records the Tests?
If there is a blood test performed by the police, they are performed by a nurse, a doctor, or other medical personnel. The independent tests, though, which are ones that are done by the person, should be done at a lab. It is the same lab that would do a drug test if an employer wanted a drug test done to make sure someone is clean. The individual will go to a lab and usually, they have to pay out of pocket, but they will get the certified results that they can present to a prosecutor or a judge.
Using these Tests as Evidence in Court
The evidence in court must be relevant, probative, and not substantially more harmful and misleading. If a person provides a drug test a week later, it would not be admitted since it has no bearing and relevance to how a person was a week earlier. There could be an exception to this if they were suspected to be on marijuana, which stays for longer than a week.
If there was anything else in their system, such as an opiate or cocaine, the tests have to be taken within a certain timeframe and must go to a certified lab. This means that the results are reliable and not based on a take-home test. The test must also be indicative of how the defendant was at the time of the incident to counter what the State’s alleged evidence may try to say.
It should be noted that the person from the lab that analyzed the blood samples typically would not be brought in as an expert at trial since the lab technician just takes the test. There may be an issue that the lab results may not have proper verification of authenticity, but it is typically sufficient. However, if necessary to go to trial, a person can be subpoenaed to court.
Additional Evidence a DUI Attorney May Need
A skilled lawyer could collect anything and everything a person has as evidence to present to a judge or jury in their defense:
- The person’s driving record
- Their criminal history
- Their employment history
- Where they were
- Any photographs of the scene
- Police reports
- Any damages records
- Any medical records if they went to a hospital
- Any camera footage
Call a Lawyer About Building an Anne Arundel County DUI Defense
Begin building an Anne Arundel County DUI defense by contacting a hard-working attorney immediately. An experienced lawyer could review a person’s allegations, identify any constitutional issues in a person’s case, and could provide the legal support you need. Call today to begin fighting back against your intoxicated driving allegations.