Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.

Call Toll-Free: 866-435-2795

Locally at: 410-415-9219

Category: Criminal Defense

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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No Odor of Breath Again

I won a case a few months ago where the officer did not testify to any odor of an alcoholic beverage on my client's breath.  This was I think the first time that had happened.  I am in front of the same judge a couple weeks ago and the same thing happens.  Now I knew I was going to win the case based on the field sobriety, realized I had no idea the officer would omit this.  The prosecutor realized it and tried to get him to say it by re-asking questions that were already answered so my objections were sustained.  

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A Good Man as Well as a Prosecutor

We are very fortunate in Maryland that the people hired to prosecute criminal cases are good decent people with compassion, as well as being smart.  It helps create a bond of trust and respect between the state and the defense. It creates a wonderful atmosphere to try cases and I have had my share of good trials the past two weeks.  Yesterday (Friday) something happened that was not unusual, but it was just really really nice.

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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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