Wicomico County DUI Stops
There are a number of things Wicomico officers look for in drivers when pulling them over during a suspected DUI stop. The time of day and the day of the week is oftentimes indicative or significant. For example, if it is two in the afternoon on a Tuesday, there is nothing particularly meaningful or significant about that. However, if it is 2 a.m. on a Saturday night or Sunday morning, it is much more likely that the majority of drivers are going to or coming from a bar or a party. Therefore, the police are on the lookout for erratic driving.
That being said, the fact that someone is driving in a way that might be described as swerving or erratic does not necessarily mean that they are inebriated. There are a number of reasons they could be driving that way, including being temporarily distracted, checking their cell phone, or adjusting the radio.
DUI Stop Process
During a potential DUI stop, an officer will examine the vehicle and driver to determine, among other things:
- Does the driver or the car smell like alcohol?
- Do the person’s eyes appear to be blood shot or glassy?
- Is their speech mumbled?
Once they have checked to see if there is a strong odor of alcohol or bottles visible in the car, they will ask, “Have you had anything to drink?” If the individual being questioned answers yes, that will prompt the law enforcement officer to request that one exit the vehicle and submit to a series of field sobriety tests.
Field Sobriety Tests
There are three tests that are recognized in Maryland. The first test is called the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This requires the subject to follow an object with their eyes to see whether they exhibit a nystagmus or deviation. The second test involves being asked to walk in a straight line for a predetermined distance, and then turning and walking back, all without deviating from the white line painted on the side of the road. The third and final test is the one-legged stand.
For these tests, there are certain indicators or clues that the officer looks for to see whether or not the subject is inebriated. These clues include whether the driver is having trouble maintaining their balance, following instructions, and generally following instructions to the letter. Based on how well or poorly the tests are performed, the officer will then decide whether to administer a breathalyzer test, take the individual into custody, or both.
For any traffic stop, regardless of what the real reason may be, the officer must have a legitimate basis for the stop itself, such as the fact that a tail light is out. Pre-textual stops are permitted. In other words: even if the real reason for pulling someone over was to see if they had been drinking and driving, the mere fact that there is legitimate basis for this stop (in this case the tail light being out) means that the officer can investigate further. They will ask the individual where they are coming from and where they are going, as well as if they are having a drink. These are all basic questions that could be asked without having to Mirandize somebody.
How An Attorney Can Help
When pulled over, drivers tend to accidentally divulge too much information. One mistake to avoid in particular is that often people try to talk their way out of a DUI. Instead of keeping their answers brief and succinct, they elaborate, in effect furnishing the officer with the exact information needed to lead to a DUI conviction in court. By contacting an experienced attorney right away, you can ensure that someone is advising you how to proceed in such a way as to lead to the best possible result in court, should charges ensue.