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DUI Attorney in Howard County, Maryland

While most people know that it is illegal to drive while under the influence or impaired by alcohol or drugs, Maryland law enforcement officers make daily arrests for these offenses.

Getting charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Impaired) in Maryland is a stressful and frightening ordeal, but a large part of a criminal defense attorney's practice involves drug and alcohol-related driving infractions. If you've been arrested, don't hesitate—reach out to the Law Office of Colleen M. Kirby, Esq. today. 

At my criminal defense firm, I am here to help put your mind at ease by launching an aggressive defense and fighting to avoid a conviction and maintain your driving privileges. If you have been charged in or around Columbia, Maryland—including throughout Howard County, including Columbia, Ellicott City, Elkridge, Laurel, Clarksville, and Anne Arundel County—then get legal support today.

Contact me for a confidential consultation, and let me guide you through the legal process with knowledge and compassion. I am here to fight for your future.  

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Police Procedures and Your Rights

While on patrol, police are constantly looking for evidence of impaired driving. At night, officers often conduct traffic stops for reasons such as speeding, swerving, or even something as simple as having a headlight or taillight out. They will likely approach your vehicle with a variety of questions, such as “Where are you coming from?” and “Have you had anything to drink tonight?”  

Many people are unaware that you are not obligated to answer these questions. Most Maryland criminal defense attorneys would recommend you be as cooperative as possible without making statements that could later be used against you. 

Providing License and Registration 

It is important that you provide your driver’s license and registration but you need not admit to consuming any alcohol. From your driving observations to your appearance, speech patterns, and even your scent, police are looking at every factor when gathering evidence for a DUI/DWI case.  

Many people do not realize that you have the right to hand over your license and registration, explain you are calling your attorney, roll up your window, and discuss what you should or should not do before deciding to step out of the car. The sooner you tell the police that you wish to speak with an attorney, the better you can protect your rights and prevent the police from gathering any further evidence. 

Field Sobriety Tests 

Field sobriety tests are very difficult to perform, regardless of whether you have been drinking, and they are designed to prove impairment. Admitting to drinking alcohol and taking the field sobriety tests only provide the police with evidence of your impairment when your case goes to court. 

Consequences of DUI/DWI Convictions

Convictions for DUI or DWI offenses in Maryland carry severe and lasting consequences that can significantly impact various aspects of your life, such as the following: 

Court Sanctions 

If you have been found guilty of driving under the influence or another drinking-related traffic violation, each subsequent violation carries an enhanced penalty. You could also be given an increased sentence if you are found to have refused the breath test at the police station.  

A first conviction of driving under the influence carries a maximum sentence of one year of incarceration, and/or fines up to $1,000. Driving while impaired carries lesser possible penalties. The maximum penalty for a first-time DWI in the state of Maryland is two months in jail and/or up to $500 in fines. If you are subsequently arrested for a second DUI/DWI, the maximum penalties are doubled.  

Driving Record and Points 

Further, a conviction for DUI results in the imposition of 12 points on your driving record and therefore the revocation of driving privileges. A DWI conviction carries 8 points, which will suspend your driving privileges.  

In the last ten years, Maryland courts have cracked down on drinking and driving. It is extremely common for individuals facing second and third offenses to be sentenced to serve time in jail. Depending on the circumstances of the case, some judges also send defendants to jail for their first offense. 

Noah’s Law and Ignition Interlock Program 

Under legislation called “Noah’s Law” passed in 2016, even first-time offenders convicted of DUI are required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program for a period of six months.  

Many people believe the courts have the authority to take away your driver’s license. For the most part, that is incorrect. The only way the courts can impact your driving privileges is when there is a conviction (versus probation before judgment). When the conviction is reported to the MVA, the points are assessed on your driving record.  

Depending on the number of points, the MVA can suspend or even revoke your privilege to drive. If you receive probation before judgment in the court system, the MVA will not assess any points. 

Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) Sanctions 

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) plays a crucial role in enforcing DUI/DWI sanctions. In cases involving drunk driving, the MVA has the authority to impose administrative penalties independent of the court system. If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI, the MVA assesses points on your driving record—12 points for a DUI conviction and 8 points for a DWI conviction. Accumulating enough points can lead to the suspension or revocation of your driver's license.  

Additionally, under Maryland law, specifically Noah's Law, even first-time offenders may be required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program, which mandates the installation of an ignition interlock device on their vehicle to prevent operation after consuming alcohol. By understanding these potential MVA sanctions, you can better prepare for the possible repercussions and seek appropriate legal guidance to mitigate their impact. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Maryland DUI/DWI Laws

What is the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Maryland? 

In Maryland, the legal BAC limit is 0.08% for drivers 21 years and older. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04%, and for drivers under 21, any detectable amount of alcohol (0.02% or higher) can result in DUI charges. 

Can I refuse to take a breathalyzer test? 

Yes, you can refuse to take a breathalyzer test in Maryland. However, refusal comes with its own set of consequences, such as an automatic 270-day suspension of your driver’s license for a first offense, and a longer suspension or 1-year participation in the Ignition Interlock Program for subsequent refusals. 

What should I bring to my consultation with a DUI attorney? 

When meeting with a DUI attorney, you should bring any documentation related to your arrest, such as police reports, court notices, and any correspondence from the MVA. Additionally, a detailed account of the events leading up to, during, and following your arrest will help your attorney build a stronger defense. 

How long does a DUI stay on my record in Maryland? 

A DUI conviction remains on your Maryland driving record permanently. However, points associated with a DUI will generally stay on your record for two years. It is important to note that DUI convictions cannot be expunged from your criminal record in Maryland. 

What is “probation before judgment” (PBJ)? 

Probation before judgment (PBJ) is an option in Maryland where the court defers entering a judgment of conviction, placing the defendant on probation instead. If successfully completed, PBJ can prevent the DUI conviction from showing up on your criminal record and keep points from being assessed on your driving record. 

Do I need to inform my insurance company if I am charged with a DUI? 

While you are not required to inform your insurance company immediately upon being charged with a DUI, they will likely find out when your policy is up for renewal or if they check your driving record. A DUI can lead to increased insurance premiums or even cancellation of your policy. 

Can a DUI charge be reduced or dismissed? 

Yes, a skilled DUI attorney can sometimes negotiate with prosecutors to reduce charges or even get them dismissed. Common defenses include challenging the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of BAC testing methods, and the conduct of the arresting officers. Each case is unique, so the possibilities depend on the specific circumstances of your situation. 

How does a DUI affect my employment status? 

A DUI conviction can impact your employment, especially if your job requires driving or if you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Employers may have policies in place regarding criminal convictions, and a DUI can also negatively affect your professional reputation. 

For further questions or specific details about your case, contact the Law Office Of Colleen M. Kirby, Esq. for a consultation. 

DUI Lawyer in Howard County, Maryland

It's important to contact a Maryland DUI lawyer immediately after your arrest who's skilled at raising defenses during trial such as contesting the initial traffic stop, arguing improper administration of the field sobriety tests, and lack of probable cause to make an arrest.

I have been successful in suppressing breath test results at trial based on improper procedures followed by officers prior to requesting the sample and improper administration of the test itself. With my experience in defending these cases, I will examine factual and legal issues involved in your case during your free consultation, so don't hesitate to reach out. 

I'm committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate legal defense so that you are well-informed and supported after a DUI charge. Do not leave your future to chance—contact me today for a confidential consultation, and let me help you begin the fight to safeguard your driving privileges and preserve your quality of life.