A DUI Can Ruin Your Life – Here’s What You Need To Know
Before you even see the flashing lights in your rearview mirror, it’s oftentimes too late and police already have a reason to pull you over. After that, all they need is to smell even a hint of alcohol on your breath, see bloodshot eyes or any other signs of intoxication, or hear you slurring your words, and they have reason to ask you to blow into a Breathalyzer or take a field sobriety test.
It’s important to remember: Your Maryland driver’s license can be suspended before trial based on the results of the chemical test or for the refusal to submit to a chemical test. Even if you are a nonresident of Maryland, you can face the loss of your privilege to drive in this state before the trial of the case.
I am attorney Gary Bernstein, the founder of Gary S. Bernstein, P.A., and because of my experience as a former prosecutor, I am not only aware of all the tactics police use to get people to admit to drinking and driving but also know the serious consequences that can befall someone who doesn’t understand their rights during a traffic stop. I understand how important your driving privileges are to you and your family, which is why I will fight for the best possible outcome for your case.
When you work with me, you can expect honesty, passion and attention to detail that only comes from having handled hundreds of drunk driving and criminal cases over the past four decades. I also don’t take the easy way out when handling DUI charges by accepting the first plea deal law enforcement offers. If it’s not in your best interest, I will tell you. If I think going to court is the better option, I will tell you. And if we go to court, I will passionately advocate for your best interests as if it were my own future on the line.
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The Hearing Request
While I can’t guarantee a win, I can promise that if you’ve been accused of driving under the influence in Maryland and are facing serious consequences such as jail time, hefty fines or the loss of your driver’s license, I will do everything in my power to scrutinize the details of your case and build a defense strategy aimed at getting charges reduced or dismissed entirely if at all possible. If this is not possible, I will explain all your options, which depend on the circumstances of your case and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as follows:
- BAC of .08 to .14: You are eligible for a six-month restricted driver’s license. You can avoid the outright suspension of your driving privilege by enrolling in the ignition interlock program for six months. To get your new interlock restricted driver’s license, you must get the interlock device installed in your vehicle and go to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).
- BAC of .15 or greater: You are not eligible for a restricted driver’s license for work, treatment, education or medical necessity, but you can still have a hearing for your case. Otherwise, you can install the interlock for a period of one year without a Hearing. If you choose the suspension it is 6 months for the first offense and 270 days for the second.
- Refusal to comply with a blood or breath test: You cannot apply for a restricted driver’s license, but you can still contest the validity of the request in a hearing. If you refuse the breath test you face a 270 day suspension for the first offense and 2 years for a second refusal. You can enter the interlock program for 1 year without a hearing. If we request a hearing and are not successful you can still avoid the suspension and install the interlock for one year.
For all circumstances, if you are unable to install the interlock before the 45 day Temporary License expires, you can still opt into the Interlock program. This applies to whether you took a test or refused. If your car is damaged and the 45 days expires, the law allows you to have someone drive your car to the interlock installation and then take you to the MVA to obtain your new license.
During the pandemic, and there may be more, the MVA is closed. You can still install the interlock and I email the paperwork to the MVA. Even though you cannot obtain a new physical license, your record is updated to reflect the interlock and the required period begins. Once the MVA reopens you can get the physical license.”
The Interlock Program For Residents And Nonresidents
The regulations governing the interlock program require that you have a Maryland driver’s license in order to enter and remain in the program. I fully believe that this requirement is unconstitutional and have spoken to the attorney general’s office about challenging it when presented with this situation. I have found a way around this prohibition, but it requires the court to place you on the Interlock program as a condition of probation. As detestable as this is, if you live out of state and work in Maryland, it may be the only way to be able to continue to drive.
No matter the response I get from the government or other administrative bodies, you can rest assured I will fight to uphold your rights and best interests. If taking matters to court would result in a better outcome, you can bet I will suggest this option and put the full force of more than 40 years of criminal defense experience to work for you.
If you are a Maryland resident and move out of state, you can remain in the program if you have your out-of-state interlock provider calibrate its equipment to the Maryland standard and the reports are forwarded to our MVA. If you are an out-of-state resident and there is a legitimate issue requiring a hearing, we will request a telephone hearing so that you will not be required to return to Maryland for the administrative hearing.
You can get an exemption from the interlock for an employer’s vehicle. The employer must authorize it and the MVA has a specific form to obtain the exemption. Your personal vehicle still must be interlocked, and you must drive it to work. The employer vehicle cannot be used to go from home to work.
Why You Need To Contact An Attorney Immediately
There are many technical defenses to DUI charges, and it is important to begin to work on the defense of the case as early as possible. I will subpoena records relating to the operation of the EC/IR–II in order to determine whether it was functioning properly when you were administered a chemical test, as well as review police reports and witness statements to determine if the officer had cause to stop you or not. Because of my completion of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) training course on the administration of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, I can quickly spot if a procedural mistake took place and your rights were violated. If this has happened to you, you can bet I will raise this to the court and seek dismissal of the charges against you.
If you need to be referred to a court-certified alcohol education program for an assessment and treatment if necessary – including if you are a nonresident, I have a resource list in my office with all court-certified alcohol education programs in the United States. If you are convicted, alcohol education and/or treatment are mandated under Maryland law unless the judge finds it is not necessary. This finding requires the assessment. More realistically, most, if not all, judges require at least minimal alcohol education in a court-certified program.
It is foolish and risky to wait for a judge to order the assessment after a trial. If convicted, judges do not want to assume the risk of your continued driving without knowing whether you pose a risk to public safety. The appellate courts in Maryland have interpreted our drunk driving laws to be for the benefit of the public, not the accused, and you get no sympathy for not submitting to the alcohol assessment before trial. This will be reflected in any sentence that is imposed.
If acquitted, you do not have to continue any treatment. Even if you’re acquitted and have completed treatment, you have still gained valuable insight into your personal use of alcohol that hopefully will keep you from ever having to read this website again.
There is a vast difference in the maximum punishment for driving under the influence and driving while impaired by alcohol. The more serious charge carries a maximum of one year in jail and the lesser charge carries 60 days. For repeat offenders, the difference in sentences is even greater.
Gain Aggressive Legal Protection
My responsibility to you is to require the state to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and to challenge the evidence in every way possible, and I will do this to the best of my ability. If that means taking matters to trial, I will. If a trial is foolish, my responsibility will be to try to reduce the seriousness of the charges against you.
If you would like to speak with me, attorney Gary S. Bernstein, call my office at 410-337-7770 or send me an email to schedule a prompt, free initial consultation. I respond to emails and calls quickly, and I am available 24/7, 365 days a year for my clients.