Wicomico First Time DUI Charges
Driving under the influence is a common crime, but it is still a serious charge that carries potential jail time upon conviction. First time DUI charges in Wicomico County are generally treated with a bit more leniency as opposed to other charges, but there are certain factors that can come into play. For example, if there was a car accident, if somebody got hurt, of the individual ran from the police, those factors could create difficulties. They could make the prosecutor’s approach much more strict and severe, even for a first offense.
In Maryland, the two charges for impaired driving are DUI and DWI. A DWI, driving while intoxicated, carries sixty days incarceration and if there is a conviction and eight points against a person’s driving record. A DUI, driving under the influence, carries up to a year in jail for a first offense and 12 points against a person’s driving record.
There are no diversion programs available for first time DUI charges in Wicomico County. DUIs are considered a very serious matter in Maryland and although they wouldn’t necessary include jail time on a first offense, judges could impose strict probation requirements. There could be some flexibility in distributing penalties, but there is no diversion.
Many judges will give the benefit of the doubt to a first offense DUI in Wicomico County given there are no serious aggravating factors, such as an accident. Still, individuals cannot expect to walk into court and receive a slap on the wrist. Many things need to be done ahead of time, such as taking certain classes or acquiring an alcohol assessment.
A jury trial is available only for a DUI charge, not for a DWI charge. Charges must potentially face 91 days or more in jail for a jury trial to be implicated. A DWI charge only carries 60 days, so there is never a jury trial for that.
The jury’s only purpose is to decide if the defendant is guilty or innocent based on the facts of the case. It is the judge who ultimately decides what to do with the defendant and how harshly or lightly to sentence them if found guilty.
Judges in district court or circuit court treat the punishment similarly. Although, if the case is taken to a jury trial in the Circuit Court and is not successful for the defendant, oftentimes, the punishment will be worse than if the defendant were able to work it out in District Court with only a judge.
Building a Defense
There are two ways to approach a DUI defense. The first is to challenge the DUI itself, obtain video surveillance, get the records from the police, get the records of the alcohol testing, get the certification of the officers and try to assess whether the tests were performed properly. An attorney would want to counteract the allegations and there are numerous ways to explore that.
Another option is to go forward with mitigation or damage control. For example, you can do things in the interim to show that you are making improvements in your life. This can include an alcohol assessment, seeking education or treatment, and getting a vehicle interlock put in your car which will prevent you from drinking and driving. All of these things can be done in advance and make you look better in front of a judge when the time comes.
A defense attorney who is experienced with handling first-time DUI charges in Wicomico County can evaluate the best strategy for your case.