Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.

Call Toll-Free: 866-435-2795

Locally at: 410-415-9219

Category: Criminal Defense

Howard County Roadblock- Not Guilty

Last week I tried a roadblock case in Howard County.  The prosecutor thought I was crazy to try it and told me I would get a worse result than the plea that was offered, but I thought there were solid issues regarding the roadblock as well as factually regarding the DUI.  Although I did not knock out the roadblock on procedural grounds, I think there is a problem with where they set it up.  The "escape route" is rather difficult and generally leads back to the road where the roadblock is set up.  I don't think most people realize they can u-turn and avoid it because there are no signs to that effect.  Police are waiting to follow those who seek to avoid it to look for any traffic violation to justify stopping the "escapee."

My client refused all testing except the HGN.  He spent 30 minutes with the police officer and exhibited no failure of normal coordination. He initially refused the breath test and then changed his mind, but wanted it administered at the scene- an option that was not available.  The State argued the refusals of SFSTs and the breath test as satisfactory evidence of DUI or DWI but the judge was not buying it.  There was just no evidence of any failure of motor coordination based upon how he drove and parked his car and how he walked and stood with the officer.  In the end my decision was correct and the judge would NEVER have punished my client for this trial.

Domestic Violence Case Injustice

I had a DV case dismissed this morning because the alleged victim failed to appear for the second time.  She should have been charged with assault and therefore required to be there but the system is sometimes rigged against a man.  The facts I am going to set forth are undisputed and everyone agrees what led up to the case.  The man (my client) goes to his daughter's pre-k graduation.  He brings his girlfriend.  The child's mother is outraged that he used one of HIS tickets to bring his girlfriend and calls her best friend from the graduation to get her over there.  This thug comes with her own baby in her arms and as soon as the graduation ends wants to fight my client's girlfriend and is cursing and making a complete asshole of herself.  She attempts to grab the child (not her child), tells my client she will have him shot, and is yelling at the girlfriend "fight me, fight me."  I shouldn't leave out that this thug still had her own baby in her arms while demanding a fight.  

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As a Lawyer it was Embarassing to Watch

Whatever your profession, when someone screws up or is incompetent, it is embarrassing to watch.  You feel like the "civilians" think we are all like that.  Today a lawyer asked a judge before a guilty plea in a DUI to defer sentencing for a few months so the client could start treatment.  The judge advised he does not do that and that they would deal with the lack of treatment at sentencing.  The lawyer then withdrew the guilty plea and asked for a jury trial.  HOWEVER, the client was not charged with DUI, but DWI so he was not entitled to a jury trial.  Even the judge and prosecutor squirmed as they looked to see if any of the charges allowed for a jury trial (penalty must exceed 90 days).  

When the judge and the prosecutor could not find that offense, as the lawyer watched the two of them go through the charging documents, he shrugged and said we plead guilty.  I left at that point.  I spoke to the public defender who was also watching this unfold and she said she felt so embarrassed sitting there. The prosecutor emailed me and told me the defendant went to jail and when released he will be on probation.  The lawyer did not even ask for an appeal bond so the guy will not get out if he files an appeal.  You may get a letter from this guy so be careful who you retain.  

Noah’s Law

Effective October 1 there will be major changes to Administrative penalties regarding the breath test.  For those reading this now if you blow between .08-.14 you face a 45 day loss of license or a 45 day restricted license for a first offense.  Beginning October 1st it increases to 180 days restricted or 180 days of interlock.  I don't know many people who can only drive to and from work, medical appointments, alcohol education, and school for 6 months.

For first offense .15 and above the period of suspension rises from 90 days to 180 days of no driving or the existing 1 year of interlock. I have had clients take 90 days of not driving but 6 months is a long time.

For a refusal the period of suspension rises from 120 days to 270 days of no driving or the existing 1 year of interlock.  

If it is a second or third time, the penalties increase as well.  The Interlock is going to become the norm in most DUI cases.

For those that refuse and are willing to live with the 270 days of no driving, they have legislated around that.  If as a result of your refusal, you are able to get the case down to a DWI instead of a DUI,  and the judge finds beyond a reasonable doubt that you refused the test, then the judge Orders you into the Interlock Program for 1 year.  For those on the interlock it runs concurrently and adds no time.  For those who tried to get around the interlock it now starts at sentencing.  

We still have Probation before Judgment for 1st offenders, but lawyers are going to have to earn their fees to insure the client is in the best possible position to avoid these sanctions.

 

Motion To Suppress Granted and Prosecutor Worked Overtime To Dismiss Another Case

I had a trial in Baltimore City.  I asked the supervisors to review the video as I thought my client did well on the SFSTs.  The stop was for a brake light and there was no bad driving and everything else was almost perfect.  I cannot get the case dismissed or amended to a Negligent.  I think the new posture is to try it and lose it before reducing it to a non-DUI/DWI.  Well they tried it and lost it.  The judge asked if we had tried to work it out and I said I offered a Stet (form of dropping it) and they declined.  The State offers Stets not the defense, so it was pretty funny.

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Contact Information

  • Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.
  • 29 W. Susquehanna Avenue, Suite 700
  • Towson, Maryland 21204
  • Toll Free: 866-435-2795
  • Locally: 410-415-9219
  • Fax: 410-823-0610

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