Howard County First-Offense DUI Lawyer
DUI charges in Howard County are typically heard at the district court level initially. There is only one district court in Howard County and that is located in Ellicott City. For a person who has been charged for the first time, the process straightforward and prosecutors will try their case very vigorously. To fight back and make sure your rights are being protected, get in contact with a Howard County DUI attorney as soon as possible.
Prosecution of First-Time DUI Charges in Howard County
Prosecutors take first time DUI charges very seriously. In Howard County, they are usually unwilling to drop DUI charges. They would rather lose a trial than dismiss a case outright. Howard County prosecutors are extremely competent, they are very prepared and very thorough in their preparation. They tend to make sure that all of their witnesses are present or available. They are going to prepare any kind of evidence that they need to admit in trial, well in advance of the trial of the case.
Penalties for a First-Time DUI Charge
The maximum penalties for first-time DUI in Howard County is one year incarceration and a $1000 fine. Realistically that almost never happens. Typical first offense cases in Howard County usually don’t receive any kind of active incarceration and frequently will receive probation before judgment so there is not even a finding of guilt in the case.
They don’t offer diversion for the DUI cases however they will usually not oppose probation before judgment for first time offenders. The facts of the case can make a big difference in whether or not the prosecution is going to oppose probation before judgment but generally they are not opposed to probation before judgment for the first time offenders.
Penalties Against a Driver’s License
Penalties on driver’s licenses are the same throughout Maryland. An individual’s license is treated the same in a Howard County DUI stop as it would be in Anne Arundel stop or Prince George’s County stop.
The penalties for a first time blow of between .08 and .14 are a 45 day suspension of license and an individual is eligible for modification of the suspension with a work permit.
If an individual blows in excess of a .14 then the suspension is 90 days with no modification unless the individual does the Ignition Interlock program for one year.
If an individual refuses to take a breathalyzer test then suspension is for 120 days with no kind of modification or work permit allowed unless the individual participates in the Ignition Interlock Program for a period of 1 year.
How Howard County Courts Treat First-Offense DUI Charges
That is going to be on a case by case basis. It depends on the individual judge or the jury whether they are more lenient than anybody else. All juries are unique and all judges are unique. For first-time Howard County DUI charges, the general rule sentencing is in line with the state norms where first offenders are generally not incarcerated and generally receive probation before judgment.
Building a Defense Against First-Offense Charges
The first thing that a Howard County first-offense DUI lawyer is going to look at is the stop. Was there reasonable articulable suspicion to stop the vehicle? The next thing we are going to look at is any kind of evidence of impairment – that can be an individuals’ demeanor, that can be odor of alcohol, that can be the way the clothing is arranged, all of these things are going to go into the officer’s determination of whether or not there is reasonable suspicion or probable cause to arrest the individual for DUI.
Finally, an attorney will analyze the Field Sobriety Tests. How did the individual perform on those tests? If an individual consents to a breath test then there are going to be all of the back story on that breathalyzer machine and the test technician, so all the certifications, the calibrations for the machine, all of that will go into crafting the defense for an individual case.
Challenging a License Suspension
In order to challenge a license suspension that you need to request an administrative hearing. You only have 10 days to request that hearing if you want to have your temporary privilege extended until the day of the hearing. You do have the right to request that hearing however within 30 days of the day of the incident.
Requesting a Restricted License
It is possible to request a restricted license, however, the type of restricted license that you are going to be eligible for is going to vary depending on what happened with the breathalyzer test. Even in cases of high blows you are eligible for restricted license, but that license may require you to participate in the MVA Ignition Interlock Program.
The license suspension and the court case are actually completely independent. Even if an individual is acquitted in court that does not affect the suspension of the license triggered by the MVA. There are different issues at those two hearings and there are also different standards of persuasion and standards of proof. It does sometimes happen that an individual will win one hearing and lose the other hearing. An individual may not get their license suspended after the case but maybe found guilty in court or vice versa where an individual can be acquitted in court but still end up with their license suspended.
Biggest Mistakes to Avoid in a Howard County DUI Case
The first important mistake to avoid is agreeing to do Field Sobriety Tests. Field sobriety tests in Maryland are totally voluntary and there is no penalty for refusing. The tests themselves are designed to create probable cause for the officer to arrest somebody for suspicion of DUI. It is not a test to see whether or not you are drunk but it is a test to give the officer a reason to arrest you for suspicion of DUI. There are no penalties for refusing Field Sobriety Tests. The biggest mistake people make in Howard County is agreeing to do Field Sobriety Tests.