Baltimore DUI Traffic Stops
Officers are looking for any reason to pull drivers over late at night. At 2:00 in the morning when the bars let out, officers are looking for any kind of traffic infraction. That can be an equipment violation, expired tags or a broken taillight—or it could simply be bad driving. Basically, an officer is looking for any reasonable cause to stop a vehicle late at night when he or she might be able to get a DUI arrest out of it. If you have been charged with a DUI, find a Baltimore DUI attorney to represent your case and help you minimize the impact of the charges on your life.
DUIs vs. DUIDs
Usually, an officer will charge a drug-related DUI either in a case where an individual doesn’t blow into a Breathalyzer—so they can’t conclusively prove that the individual is impaired by alcohol—or in a case where the officer legitimately suspects that the individual is impaired by drugs. If the individual blows zero into the Breathalyzer, but is displaying other symptoms of impairment, the officer will likely charge it as a 21-902(c) or (d) offense.
DUI Traffic Stop Process in Baltimore
At the beginning of a DUI stop, an officer is going to pull the vehicle over and tell the driver why he or she was pulled over. The officer will then go back to his or her car and run all the driver’s information—the driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration. The officer will then come back to the vehicle and ask the driver to step out to conduct a field sobriety test. After the test is done, the driver may be arrested.
If an individual chooses to refuse to submit to a field sobriety test—which people can and should do—the officer will usually just arrest him or her immediately after the refusal. Then, the person will be taken back to the police station and be asked to blow into a Breathalyzer. At that point, he or she will either be released or be booked into the detention facility.
Questions and Tests
If you’re pulled over for DUI, the officer will ask where you are coming from, if you were drinking, how much you had to drink and where you’re going. Those are pretty typical questions for police officers to ask on a DUI stop.
During a DUI stop, the officer will likely want to perform the three standardized field sobriety tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stand test. The officer may also ask an individual to blow into a portable Breathalyzer device during the course of the stop.
Usually after an individual is arrested, the officer wants to search the vehicle incident to the arrest. Additionally, if the officer has some other probable cause to search the vehicle, either out of concern for officer safety or because of something in plain sight, he or she may search the vehicle for that reason as well. In any case, when an individual is arrested for DUI, the officer will probably effectuate at least a quick search of the vehicle incident to that arrest.
Many experienced Baltimore DUI lawyers will tell their clients not to consent to vehicular searches if the police do not have a warrant. You do need to consent to the search of your vehicle unless there is an independent reason to conduct the search. That reason can be based on an officer’s probable cause or it can be a search incident to arrest. Once an individual is arrested, then the officer does have the right to search his or her vehicle without consent.
Rights at a Baltimore DUI Traffic Stop
Officers don’t have to Mirandize you unless they’re going to interrogate you. Miranda applies to something called a custodial interrogation, and there are two parts to that: being in custody and being interrogated. In most DUI cases, there is no interrogation subsequent to being placed into custody, so generally speaking, Miranda won’t apply in nine out of ten DUI cases.
During a DUI stop, you have the right to refuse to submit to a field sobriety test and the right to consult with an attorney prior to deciding whether or not to submit to a Breathalyzer test. You should always be aware of those two major rights during a DUI stop.
After a DUI arrest, you have the right to consult counsel. That means you have the right to talk to a lawyer, which you should exercise immediately after a DUI arrest. A lawyer can give you lots of useful information and can point you in the right direction. The help and advice that a lawyer can offer can have a big impact on the outcome of your case.
Mistakes to Avoid During a Stop
The biggest single mistake to avoid during a DUI stop is agreeing to submit to a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests in Maryland are voluntary; there is no legal penalty for refusing to submit to a field sobriety test in Maryland, and the tests are designed to generate probable cause for the officer. So they’re not necessarily fair tests to see if you’re actually impaired by alcohol, but rather they’re intended to allow the officer to arrest you for suspicion of DUI. It’s important to remember that there’s no penalty for refusing the test and the test is biased against you. Doing a field sobriety test can be a big mistake for a DUI defendant in Maryland.
Contacting Your Baltimore DUI Lawyer
You can ask to speak to your lawyer during a Baltimore DUI arrest. At any time during the interaction, you can always ask an officer to call your attorney. Initially, most officers are going to say no, you’re not under arrest yet and you’re not being detained at the moment, so you just need to cooperate. However, once you have been detained by the officer and you’re deciding whether or not you want to blow into the Breathalyzer, you can ask to speak to an attorney at that point to help you make that decision.