August 2011 Archives

cop dui.jpgWe handle civil litigation and criminal defense throughout Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. One of our frequent endeavors is DUI and DWI defense. If a person is charged with a drinking and driving offense, trial will most likely be held at the District Court level. Portner & Shure's Maryland DUI lawyers are no strangers to Maryland courthouses. We consistently help our clients reach favorable outcomes because we require that the State put forth a case that meets the requirements of Maryland law and, if the State's case is without defect, we prepare our clients by walking them through the steps necessary to mitigate guilt.

Common Defects in the State's Case

1. The accused must be in "actual physical control" of a vehicle. If he or she is not then the State has not established one of the necessary elements. Factors used to determine whether someone is in "actual physical control" of a vehicle include the following:

  • Whether or not the engine is running or ignition is on
  • Where and in what position the person is found in the vehicle
  • Whether the person is asleep or awake
  • Where the vehicle's ignition key is located
  • Whether the vehicle's headlights are on
  • Whether the vehicle is on the roadway or legally parked

No one factor alone will necessarily be dispositive of whether the defendant was in "actual physical control" of the vehicle. Rather, each must be considered with an eye towards whether there is in fact present or imminent exercise of control over the vehicle or, instead, whether the vehicle is merely being used as a stationary shelter. Courts must in each case examine what the evidence showed the defendant was doing or had done, and whether these actions posed an imminent threat to the public. Perhaps the strongest factor is whether there is evidence that the defendant started or attempted to start the vehicle's engine.

Top Ten Mistakes to Avoid in a Maryland DUI / DWI Case

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1. Not Hiring a DUI Attorney Immediately - DUI / DWI in Maryland is a criminal charge and carries with it the possibility of serious jail time. Further, with a DUI comes the possibility of losing your right to drive if a timely request for a hearing is not filed with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. A competent Maryland DUI attorney should understand the rules of law and evidence. In countless cases the attorneys at Portner & Shure have proven to Judges, through their understanding of the law, that our clients cases should be dismissed under the law. Hire a competent Maryland DUI / DWI attorney immediately after your arrest.

2. Trying to Save a Buck - You know the old saying, you get what you pay for. This applies in all aspects of life. Why in the world anyone would hire a cheap DUI attorney when the possibilities of jail time, loss of driving privileges, and a permanent record are at stake, amazes me. Don't try to save in a Maryland DWI / DUI case.

3. Failing to Request a Timely Maryland MVA Hearing - After your arrest you receive a temporary license which instructs you on the time requirements for filing a hearing with the Motor Vehicle Administration. If you don't meet the filing deadline, or don't file a request at all you will lose your privilege to drive in the State of Maryland for a period of at least 45 days. Furthermore, if you don't request a hearing and then drive while your license is suspended this is actually a separate and very serious traffic offense that can result in a jail sentence. Portner & Shure Maryland DUI attorneys present numerous defenses at MVA hearings which often result in our clients retaining their privileges to drive in Maryland.

4. Understanding a DUI / DWI Arrest in Maryland - Yes, it's a traffic offense. However, its also considered a criminal charge and a conviction that will appear on your permanent record. Hence, it could affect your future employment, as well as your immigration status, and insurance rates. The conviction remains on your record and cannot be removed. Fees you may incur from a Maryland DUI include attorneys fees, Court costs, and fines, alcohol counseling, insurance rate increases, license re-instatement fees, car storage and towing costs.

5. Failing to Subpoena the Investigating Police Officer at the Maryland DUI / DWI MVA Hearing - The investigating police officer is not required to attend the MVA hearing. Often cross-examination of the officer sheds light on the defects of the report. However, without the Subpoena and the cross-examination of the officer, the report itself comes into evidence. Many Maryland DUI attorneys don't understand the importance of forcing the officer to appear at the hearing, and therefore, lose their case before the administrative judge.

JL.jpgRavens Super Bowl Hero and former Maryland Terrapin, Jermaine Lewis, has seen better days. The one time Pro-Bowler, who returned a kickoff for 84 yards in the Ravens 2001 Super Bowl victory, was arrested in his Baltimore County home earlier this week. Police say witnesses saw Lewis run over a sign and drive erratically, almost causing an accident. When police arrived at his home a woman answered the door. When she went inside to speak with Lewis the Baltimore County police officer heard an argument. Upon entering the residence, the police officer found Lewis on his couch with his pants halfway to his knees. The Baltimore County officer noticed that Lewis smelled of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot. The officer asked Lewis to get off of the couch and he refused. When the police officer attempted to put handcuffs of Lewis he resisted and was eventually tased after several warnings.

Jalen Rose.jpgEarlier this month basketball star and ESPN analyst Jalen Rose was sentenced to twenty days in jail for a March drunken-driving crash near Detroit. Rose pled guilty and admitted to the judge that he drank six martinis before crashing his SUV on a snowy road late in the evening. Even though several prominent members of the Detroit community came out in support of Rose and despite the fact that the prosecutor did not recommend jail time, the judge sentenced Rose to twenty days in jail.

Rose's attorneys were beside themselves. One of his attorneys commented that the judge was legislating from the bench and cited his client's donations to charity and service to the community, including starting inner city schools. The judge, who has a reputation for coming down hard on drunk drivers lectured Rose stating, "The one thing that people never want...that they will hire expensive lawyers to avoid...is jail time. That's why I believe it is the right punishment." Rose's actual sentence is 92 days in jail and one years probation, but the judge suspended 72 days of the sentence. The maximum penalty for the charge is 93 days, but Rose received credit for the night he spent in jail after the crash.