What Happens When You Get a DUI

What Happens When You Get a DUI

April 5, 2024Nirav Babu
What happens when you get a DUI

You may be curious about what happens when you get a DUI, and it's natural. No one wants to be arrested, right? But when the unavoidable happens, and you get arrested for a DUI, it feels like the world is crashing down around you. You may worry about your future and job and how this will affect your family.

Being arrested for a DUI can have severe penalties, potentially resulting in jail time, losing your driver's license, and other serious consequences.

But knowing the process can help reduce some of that stress. It's important to know what to expect, from the initial stop by law enforcement to possible court appearances.

A DUI arrest begins with being pulled over by a law enforcement officer and potentially facing field sobriety tests.

If you fail these tests, the next steps involve being booked at the police station and facing charges. Learn more about DUI charges below. Then, contact our team at Innovate Criminal Defense Lawyers for a free consultation.

The Definition of Driving Under the Influence in Maryland

In Maryland, driving under the influence (DUI) means operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. This is known as the legal limit. A DUI arrest triggers an automatic license suspension in many states.

But you can still face charges for driving while impaired (DWI) at lower BAC levels if your driving ability is compromised. The law is strict because drunk driving poses a severe risk to public safety.

Maryland law also considers the use of drugs while driving as a DUI offense. This includes prescription medications that impair your ability to drive. Even if your BAC is under the limit, evidence of impairment can lead to a DUI charge.

The Initial Stop and Arrest for DUI

The initial stop and arrest for DUI

A DUI stop typically begins when law enforcement officers notice signs of impaired driving. This can be stressful, knowing it could lead to an arrest. Police officers are taught to look for specific indicators of intoxication or drug use. The goal is to ensure roads are safe for everyone.

Reasons for Being Stopped by Law Enforcement

  • Erratic driving: Swerving, speeding, or braking irregularly can signal to a police officer that you might be under the influence.
  • Traffic violations: Running a red light or stop sign or breaking other traffic laws often leads to being pulled over. During this stop, if the officer suspects DUI, it can escalate quickly.
  • Vehicle malfunctions: Something as simple as a broken tail light can give law enforcement a reason to stop you. Once stopped, if they suspect drunk driving, the situation becomes more complicated.
  • Checkpoints: Law enforcement sometimes sets up DUI checkpoints to catch impaired drivers. These are legal in Maryland and can lead to DUI charges if you're found to be over the legal limit.
  • Anonymous tips: Occasionally, police may stop a driver based on information from another person who calls in to report erratic driving. These tips must be credible but can lead to a DUI arrest if the officer finds evidence of impairment.

Field Sobriety Tests and Breathalyzer Procedures

Field sobriety tests are meant to review your physical and cognitive functions. Officers might ask you to walk in a straight line or stand on one leg.

Failing these tests can lead to further investigation. A breathalyzer test measures your BAC and is important evidence in DUI cases.

Officers are required to follow key steps when giving these tests. The goal is to ensure the tests are fair and accurate. Refusing a breathalyzer test can trigger major consequences, including automatic license suspension.

Booking and Charges Following a DUI Arrest

After a DUI arrest, the police will take you to the station for booking. This process involves recording your personal information and the details of the alleged offense. It's a formal step in charging you with a DUI. Knowing what to expect can make this daunting process slightly less intimidating.

The Booking Process Explained

Booking includes taking your fingerprints and photograph and providing basic personal information. This is standard procedure and marks the beginning of the formal legal process.

Depending on the circumstances, you may be held in custody or released until your court date. Officers will also inventory your personal belongings at the time of arrest. You'll receive a receipt for these items, which you can reclaim later.

Awareness of this process is important for anyone facing a DUI charge. It's the first step in a journey through the legal system.

Formal Charges and the Role of the Prosecutor

Once you're booked, the prosecutor will review the case to decide on formal charges. They consider the evidence, including breathalyzer results and field sobriety tests. This decision can highly impact your case.

A skilled DUI defense lawyer can argue against the evidence, potentially leading to reduced charges or even dismissal. The prosecutor's job is to prove you were driving under the influence. They'll prepare a case to present in court.

However, with the right legal defense, it's possible to challenge their evidence. Being aware of the role of the prosecutor helps you see the importance of having a strong defense.

Administrative Consequences of a DUI

Administrative consequences of a DUI

A DUI arrest comes with immediate administrative consequences. One of the first things affected is your driving privileges. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) takes action separate from any criminal proceedings. This can include suspending your driver's license.

Immediate Impact on Driving Privileges

Right after an arrest, you may face a temporary license suspension. This is meant to prevent further harm while your case is pending. It's a precautionary measure that impacts your ability to drive. Knowing this can help you prepare for the challenges ahead.

DMV Hearings and License Suspension

An arrest for alcohol automatically triggers a process within the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that can result in a suspension of your driver's license.

You have the right to request a hearing with the MVA to challenge your license suspension. This hearing is different from your criminal case but is equally important. A successful challenge can mean keeping your driving privileges while your DUI case proceeds.

You might face a longer suspension of your driver's license if the hearing doesn't go in your favor. The duration of the suspension hinges on factors like your BAC level and whether you have prior convictions. Knowing this process is necessary for anyone facing a DUI charge.

What is the Criminal Court Process?

  1. Arraignment: This is your first court appearance. You'll listen to the charges read against you and give a plea. It's important to have legal representation by this point.
  2. Bail hearing: If you were detained, there might be a hearing to determine if you can be released on bail. The judge considers factors like flight risk and danger to the community.
  3. Discovery: Both sides exchange evidence in preparation for trial. This phase is critical for building your defense strategy.
  4. Pre-trial motions: Your attorney can file motions to dismiss charges or exclude evidence. Success here can highly impact the outcome of your case.
  5. Trial: If your case heads to trial, both sides will present evidence and arguments. The prosecutor must demonstrate your guilt past a reasonable doubt.
  6. Verdict: After hearing all the evidence, the judge or jury will deliver a verdict. If you're found guilty, sentencing will follow.
  7. Sentencing: The judge will determine your punishment based on the severity of the offense, your criminal history, and other factors. This could include fines, jail time, or probation.

Pre-Trial Motions and Evidence Challenges

Pre-trial motions are a vital part of the defense strategy. They allow your attorney to challenge the prosecution's evidence before the trial begins. Success can mean the exclusion of damaging evidence or even the dismissal of charges.

Requesting a DMV hearing is critical to protecting your rights and can significantly impact your ability to maintain your lifestyle while your case is pending. Your DUI defense lawyer will handle the request and prepare for the hearing to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Your attorney might argue that evidence was obtained illegally or violated your rights during the arrest. These arguments can weaken the prosecution's case. It's important to have a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer who understands how to leverage these motions.

Potential Penalties and Sentencing for DUI

Potential penalties and sentencing for DUI

The penalties for a DUI conviction in Maryland can be severe. They might include fines, jail time, and mandatory participation in an alcohol education program.

The severity of the penalties often depends on factors like your BAC level and whether it's a first offense. You may retain your driving privileges after a first-offense DUI, but you might be required to use an ignition interlock device.

Repeat offenders face harsher penalties. This can include longer jail sentences and higher fines. A DUI conviction can also have long-term impacts on your life, affecting employment opportunities and insurance rates. Understanding the potential penalties can motivate you to seek the best possible defense.

Factors Influencing Sentencing Decisions

  • BAC level: The higher your BAC at the time of arrest, the more severe the penalties you might face. Judges use your BAC level to understand how impaired you are. A high BAC level can lead to longer jail times and bigger fines.
  • Prior DUI convictions: If you have previous DUIs on your record, the court will likely impose harsher penalties. Courts see repeat offenses as a sign that you haven't learned from past mistakes. This could result in stricter punishments to deter future DUI offenses.
  • Accidents and injuries: If your DUI resulted in an accident or injuries, this could lead to more severe sentencing. Courts take harm to others very seriously. Causing an accident while DUI shows a high level of irresponsibility and can result in major penalties.
  • Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test: Refusing a breathalyzer can result in automatic penalties, including license suspension. Maryland law requires drivers suspected of DUI to undergo BAC testing. Refusing this test is seen as an admission of guilt and can worsen your situation.
  • Cooperation with law enforcement: Being cooperative during the arrest process can sometimes influence the court's sentencing decisions. Judges may view cooperation as a sign of remorse. This can work in your favor, potentially leading to lighter sentences or alternative penalties.

Let Innovate Criminal Defense Lawyers Protect Your Rights After a DUI Charge

Let Innovate Criminal Defense Lawyers protect your rights after a DUI charge

Facing a DUI charge is a critical and stressful situation that can have far-reaching consequences on your life. But you don't have to go through this challenging time alone. Innovate Criminal Defense Lawyers are here to protect your rights throughout the process.

A felony DUI is serious, but even a misdemeanor drunk driving conviction can change your life forever. Let our DUI defense attorney provide you with a strong defense. Contact our DUI defense attorneys today to schedule a free consultation.