Recently in Traffic Violations Category

Federal Jurisdiction in Maryland DUI and DWI Cases

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

There are many areas in Maryland that are considered federal enclaves. In these areas Maryland's implied consent laws are at issue. What laws apply in federal enclaves depends upon whether the land is under one of the following:

1. Exclusive federal jurisdiction or concurrent federal and state jurisdiction

2. The jurisdiction of the National Park Service

National Park Service properties, including Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Suitland Parkway, are patrolled by the United States Park Police. There are specific federal regulations governing conduct on these roads. For instance, refusal of a breath test is made a crime by 36 C.F.R. § 4.23(C)(2). There are no administrative sanctions for refusals or what would be administrative per se violations under National Park Service regulations. Therefore there will be no MVA hearing or automatic suspension. Unfortunately, there is no possibility of a probation before judgment in this type of Maryland DUI case. Some portions of these federal enclaves are under concurrent jurisdiction, and suspected drunk drivers who are arrested by county or state police officers are subject to Marylands implied consent laws.

Where the land is federal, but not under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, including Andrews Air Force Base and Fort Meade, the substance and penalties of Maryland DUI law are incorporated into federal law by the Assimilative Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C.A. § 3118. Because of this incorporation, persons arrested for drunk driving in these areas do have the possibility of a federal judge granting them a probation before judgement disposition. If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI on federal land contact the experienced Maryland DUI attorneys and Maryland DWI lawyers at Portner & Shure.

What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI in Maryland?

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

The acronym DWI stands for driving while impaired and is a lesser charge when compared with DUI, which stands for driving while under the influence. DUI in Maryland is considered the "A" charge and DWI in Maryland is considered the "B" charge. A suspect is charged with DWI in cases of impairment by drugs, other dangerous substances, or alcohol at a level of .07 blood alcohol content (BAC). A suspect is charged with DUI in drunk driving cases if it is determined that the suspect's BAC was .08 or higher. Usually, individuals accused of drunk driving offenses are given citations for both DWI and DUI. If there is no breath result or the breath result is between .07 and .08, the State will typically proceed with a DWI. If the result of the breath test is .08 or higher, the State may proceed on the DUI charge. Our Maryland DUI attorneys often negotiate plea offers that lower the charge to DWI even when the defendant's BAC is over .08. At the very least, our Maryland DUI lawyers will not allow the State's Attorney to proceed on a DUI charge if the State does not possess sufficient evidence.

MVA Hearings in Maryland DUI Cases

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

MVA.jpgIf a person accused of drinking and driving in Maryland refused the breath or blood alcohol test or the test resulted in an alcohol level of .08 or more, his or her license is subject to automatic suspension. To prevent automatic suspension of a license, a person charged with DUI in Maryland must request a hearing with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) within 10 days of arrest. Maryland police will confiscate a Maryland license from a driver upon arrest for a drunk driving charge and issue a temporary license to drive. The temporary license is valid for 45 days, starting from the day of arrest. On the 46th day, the license automatically expires. Attached to the temporary license is a form which looks like a copy of the temporary license. The copy is a form to request an administrative hearing. It must be completed and mailed or deliver the hearing request form to the Office of Administrative Hearings, 11101 Gilroy Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1301. A request for an MVA hearing requires a $125 filing fee which must be submitted with the request.

Everyone is entitled to an MVA hearing. The MVA hearing is an administrative legal proceeding allowing the accused to present his or her side of the story before any decisions are made regarding driving privileges. When evaluating a DUI arrest in Maryland, the Administrative Law Judge will look at the following issues:

Howard County DUI Attorney

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

If you are arrested for a DUI in Howard County, you need access to an attorney who knows the local courts and has considerable past DUI experience. You need to be assured that when you hire your Howard County DUI law firm, you are in competent, experienced and qualified hands. In your search for the right Howard County DUI attorney, your research will have been a success if you call attorney, Jon Portner, Kevin Ruby or Nick Parr at Portner & Shure to discuss.

The DUI Team at Portner & Shure understands that the best DUI case results don't necessarily come in the courtroom. In order to succeed a proper invesitgation must be conducted in the early stage of the process, then discovery. Our DUI legal team has a desire to win and does not back down to the Howard County State's Attorneys office, unlike some other DUI firms. We prepare extensively for DUI cases and treat these cases with the utmost importance. A desire to win and exceptional preparation have enabled us to obtain an excellent track record in the Howard County District Court and the Howard County Circuit Court.

Reading Texts While Driving Now Banned in Maryland

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Starting October 1, 2011, reading a text message or an email from behind the wheel will cost a driver up to $500 in fines. Maryland's new law, barring the reading of texts while driving, clarifies the existing texting while driving rules. Up until this point, drivers were barred from writing text messages while driving but were allowed to read them. Law enforcement authorities have already commented that police officers will begin enforcing the law immediately.

Police in Maryland have issued 587 warnings and 379 traffic citations for texting while driving and 4,021 warnings and 5,227 traffic citations to drivers talking on cell phones since the initial ban was put in place two years ago. The law still provides an exception for drivers who are texting emergency operators or using phone GPS systems.

Drivers who are ticketed can still choose to pay a $70 fine an accept guilt, which would add a point to their license; if the texting leads to an accident, accepting guilt would mean paying a $110 fine and three points on the license. If a driver chooses to contest the ticket in court, that individual runs the risk of being found guilty of a misdemeanor and having to pay up to a $500 fine. If you have been charged with a serious traffic offense or DUI contact the Maryland crimial defense attorneys and Howard County DUI lawyers at Portner & Shure.

DUI/DWI Walk-and-Turn Test

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

walk and turn.bmpThe second test the officer will administer is the walk-and-turn test. The test conditions required are:

  • A designated straight line
  • A reasonably dry, hard, level, nonslippery surface
  • Sufficient room for the suspect to complete nine heel-to-toe steps

The subject is asked if they have a physical problems. Then the subject is instructed to stand with their left foot on the line, and to place their right foot directly in front of it, heel to toe. The suspect is instructed to hold that position while the officer gives instructions. Behavior during this period can be used to show impairment. One of the most common mistakes is beginning the test before instructed to do so. Like raising your hand in class before the teacher asks the question, this mistake is a clue of impairment. Before the test the officer will give the following instructions:

DUI/DWI One-Leg Stand Test

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

one leg stand.bmpThe third test administered by the officer is the one-leg-stand test. This test requires a reasonably dry, hard, level, and nonslippery surface. The suspect is instructed to:

  • Stand with their feet together and arms at the side, until the instructions are complete
  • Raise either leg so their foot is six inches off the ground, keeping the foot parallel to the ground
  • Keep both legs straight and arms at their sides
  • Hold the position while counting out loud

The officer is required to time it for 30 seconds and to record clues if the subject:

  1.  Puts the foot down
  2.  Raises arms more than six inches from the side of the body in order to keep balance
  3.  Hops
  4.  Sways while balancing

DUI/DWI Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

hgn.bmpHorizontal gaze nystagmus is usually the first test administered when a driver is suspected of drinking and driving. Nystagmus is defined as an involuntary jerking of the eyes. Nystagmus is always present, to some degree, but it is far more noticeable when an individual has alcohol in his or her system. In order to administer the HGN test correctly, an officer must have the suspect stand with legs together and arms at the side. The officer should instruct the person to remove eyeglasses and inquire whether the person has contact lenses, a head injury or eye problems. The suspect must be instructed to follow the stimulus with their eyes only, keeping their head still. The stimulus is placed 12-15 inches in front of the person's face, and is moved back and forth in a number of passes. The first pass is to assess if the individual's eyes are tracking equally. The officer also holds the stimulus still to determine that both pupils are the same size. If the subject dose not show equal tracking or has differing pupil sizes there could be a medical problem.

The Truth About Maryland DUI/DWI Field Sobriety Tests

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

During the 1970's and 1980's the NHTSA, with the help of psychologists and doctors developed three standardized tests for trained police officers to use in the field to determine whether to arrest or release drivers suspected of drunk driving. Those three tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), walk-and-turn, and one-leg stand. These tests are designed to be conducted in a standardized manner and interpreted using standardized clues. The horizontal gaze nystagmus has six clues and typically if a driver shows four or more of the six clues that is can be an indication that the driver has been drinking. The walk-and-turn test has eight clues and if a driver exhibits two or more of the eight clues that can be an indication that the driver is impaired. The one-leg stand has four clues and if a driver shows two our more clues that can be evidence that he or she is impaired. NHTSA, with the help of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), developed training programs and manuals for both instructors and students to learn how to properly administer standardized field sobriety tests. Police are taught to administer and interpret the tests in a standardized manner. Standardization of these tests is essential to their reliability, and the manual states that:

  • It is necessary to emphasize this validation applies only when:
  • The tests are administered in the prescribed manner
  • The standardized clues are used to assess the suspect's performance
  • The standardized criteria are employed to interpret that performance

If any one of the standardized field sobriety test elements is changed, the validity is compromised. Our job as Maryland DUI attorneys is to ensure that the police officer has been properly trained and administered the field sobriety tests correctly. The fundamentals of fairness an objectivity are essential when the Court decides a defendant's guilt or innocence. If you have been charged with a drinking and driving offense contact the Maryland DUI lawyers at Portner & Shure.

After a DUI charge Counseling is a Necessity

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

If you are a defendant facing charges for DUI in Howard County, or DUI charges in Prince George's County or Montgomery County, you must show the District Court Judge that you have taken the matter seriously. Drinking while driving often occurs because a person has an underlying drinking problem or was not fully aware of all of the terrible consequences that can result from DUI. A way to handle both of these issues is seeking alcohol treatment at a Maryland certified alcohol treatment center. Sentencing before the District Court in Howard County often turns on what steps the defendant's charged with DUI has taken since the arrest. As a result, the DUI attorneys at Portner & Shure insist that all DUI clients be at least evaluated at an alcohol treatment center, and we stress that if classes are recommended they be completed prior to court.