Drunk and impaired driving, while not the same thing, is a serious problem in Maryland. Impaired drivers do operate a motor vehicle at their on legal risk on Maryland’s roads because a vehicle operator does not have to be .08 to be arrested for DUI in Maryland. In fact, the signs the pepper the roadways, tv stations and billboards that warn Maryland drivers not to operative a car at .08 or more are not telling you the whole truth. The whole DUI truth is that you can and will be arrested for just about any BAC number in excess of .02. Are you surprised to hear that? That is what the police call impaired driving and if you cannot perform their silly field sobriety tests perfectly they will assume that you are in fact impaired and will arrest you for DUI/DWI.
Maryland drunk driving charges are virtually assured when a driver has a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .05 percent or more (and sometimes less). Blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 is a *per se violation of the Maryland Transportation Article*, meaning that if the BAC results in a .08 level of alcohol, the State can convict you of the charge based upon the number only. For underage drivers, a BAC of .02 percent will result in the violation of an alcohol restriction which can add another 6 month administrative suspension to the minor’s license.
In addition, drunk drivers in Maryland are subject to the State’s implied consent law. This means that when a driver’s license is issued the recipient agrees to take a chemical test to determine his or her BAC when asked to by a law enforcement officer. Presently there are two tiers of punishment which range from .08 to .14 and .14 and greater. The former carries a 45 days modifiable suspension and the latter carries a 90 day suspension non-modifiable. If this is a second or subsequent offense, the suspensions will be longer.
Beyond an elevated BAC test, the police and courts rely heavily upon field sobriety testing to prove impairment. The NHSA field sobriety tests were developed and standardized years ago in an effort to determine if one’s normal coordination is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Three field tests are regularly used and if the instructions are properly administered and the officer scores the tests as dictated by NHTSA, the combination of the tests is supposed to be instrumental in proving that the Defendant is impaired.
The (3) field tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), the Walk and Turn test, and the One Leg Stand test. The use of field sobriety tests in court to prove a DUI case in Maryland is often hotly contested. The tests are often given more weight then they should be Maryland’s judges in terms of proving impairment. Drunk driving charges can stand or fall on whether a police officer issued and scored the test results to the driver properly.
Field sobriety tests are engineered to be psycho-physical in nature. A person is required to do two things at a time, one being listening and the other being actual physical performance. It is assumed that only impaired folks have difficulty multi-tasking and that sober people will have no problem dancing like gymnast on the side of the road, in the dark. The tests were originally designed to reveal the existence of a BAC of .10 percent or higher but now they are used to show simple impairment, as predicting a true BAC number has been determined to be nonsense by the courts.
The breathylizer can be a hotly contested factor in drunk driving cases. The magic breath machine is presumed to work properly if the police can document that the machine has been tested and calibrated as required by law and that the operator has been trained on how to use it. Training on the machine is as simple as pushing buttons, blowing in the tube and waiting for the magical result to spit out on a piece of paer. The machine “technicians” as they are known have no technical knowledge how these machines work or their internal error rate or other problems that lead to inaccurate readings.
The charge of drunk driving in Maryland is serious. Ramifications include license suspension, possible jail time, high court fines, probation fines and the like. Many of these ramifications can impact an accused’s ability to work and to drive for or during work, or perhaps to even keep their employment if secret clearances are involved. Therefore it is important if you are charged with this offense to seek competent and experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. Our attorneys aggressive and accomplished attorneys are available for free consultation any day of the week at any time. Call us at 410 484 1111.