July 11, 2013

Great Mills Mother Charged with Drunken Driving in California

A 25-year-old woman of Great Mills faces a number of charges after being pulled over for erratic driving including DUI (driving under the influence) and neglect of a minor. According to a Southern Maryland News Net report, the alleged DUI incident occurred on Route 235 south of Route 237 in California.

A trooper allegedly observed her traveling at a high rate of speed, making a U-turn, and then continuing through a red light. During the traffic stop, she was unable to locate her license or registration and allegedly smelled of alcohol. She agreed to take a preliminary breath test which showed a result of .16. Following the test she was placed under arrest for DUI/DWI. She also faces charges for neglect of a minor and confining an unattended child because her two-year-old was at home without supervision at the time of the arrest.

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August 10, 2012

What Happens If I Refuse to Take a DUI Breath Test in Maryland?

MD Breath Test LawsDuring a traffic stop, a Maryland police officer may ask a driver to take a chemical breath test to check the level of alcohol, if any, in the driver’s system. Understanding Maryland’s chemical test refusal laws can help you protect yourself if you’re ever pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

Maryland has an “implied consent law,” which means that, if you have a valid Maryland driver’s license, there is an assumption that you have given your consent to submit an alcohol breath test should a police officer who suspects that you are operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs ask you to do so. If you refuse the test, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may suspend your driver’s license for up to 120 days – even if you go to Court and are found not guilty of DUI at trial.

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June 26, 2012

What is a “Wet Reckless” Charge in Maryland?

A person charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Maryland may face serious penalties, including jail time, steep fines, and license suspension. However, a defendant may be able to have their Maryland DUI charge reduced to a case of reckless driving, which may mean less severe penalties. A conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol, also known as a “wet reckless” conviction, may come as a result of a plea bargain in which a person’s drunk driving charge is reduced. In the state of Maryland, there is no statutory provision on whether a wet reckless plea bargain will be accepted, but an attorney may be able to arrange such a plea bargain for the defendant.

Wet reckless is defined as the ground in which a person gets relief from serious punishment by pleading that his or her blood alcohol level was just crossing the legal limit and no accident or damage was caused due to the drunk driving. In addition, the person facing conviction has not been involved in any criminal case in the past. Though a lesser drunk driving charge can mean a person may not incur penalties as severe as a standard DUI charge, insurance companies may attempt to treat a wet reckless charge the same as driving under the influence.

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May 2, 2012

Anne Arundel County Increasing DUI Enforcement on Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, a holiday which celebrates Mexican heritage and commemorates the Mexican army’s victory during Battle of the Puebla, has become a day not only celebrated in Mexico but in the United States as well. Cinco de Mayo has also become one of a handful of holidays throughout the year that has become synonymous with drinking as partygoers around the country, regardless of heritage, get together with friends and family to have fun and likely a few drinks. As such, drunk driving is especially a problem on this holiday as some may choose to act carelessly and get behind the wheel after drinking.

In order to prevent dangerous DUI (driving under the influence) accidents, the Anne Arundel County Police Department is stepping up DUI enforcement on Saturday, May 5. The Odenton-Severn Patch reports that County police will be coordinating efforts with various law enforcement agencies and will be assigning officers to DUI enforcement throughout the county. In addition, officers will be targeting roads previously identified as having high rates of drunk driving-related accidents and arrests.

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April 10, 2012

Penalties for Drunk Driving in Maryland as Explained by Andrew Alpert

Maryland DUI PunishmentsAndrew Alpert, a Maryland criminal defense attorney, understands the seriousness of a drunk driving conviction and the impact it can have on a person’s life. With more than 24,230 arrested in the state of Maryland in 2007 for drunk driving, it is a very common problem, and without experienced legal counsel, a person may face serious consequences. In Maryland it is illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08 percent or greater. The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, for Maryland residents 21 years of age or older are:

First Offense

A first offense for DUI can result in suspension of one’s driver’s license for 45 days or 90 days (for BAC of .15 or more) and fines of up to $1,000. If a minor was in the vehicle at the time of arrest, fines may increase to $2000. Upon conviction, one may also serve a jail term of up to one year, or two years if a minor was in the vehicle.

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February 22, 2012

Maryland DUI Driver Sentenced for Fatal Crash, Family Suing Restaurant That Served Him Too Much Alcohol

The man that killed a young girl in a fatal Maryland DUI accident has pled guilty and will now serve time in prison, according to an ABC7 report. A Maryland resident, his wife, and two granddaughters were driving down Interstate 270 when their jeep was hit from behind by the drunk driver, resulting in the death of one of the granddaughters. The man was speeding at the time of the accident, going approximately 88 to 99 mph. Though the driver in this case pled guilty to MD vehicular manslaughter charges and is serving eight years in prison, the family has now hired an attorney to sue the owners of the restaurant where the driver was reportedly served 17 beers before getting into his Land Rover and causing the deadly crash.

Maryland is one of the few states that do not allow bars or restaurants to be sued for irresponsibly serving alcohol to customers, but the family of the deceased little girl hopes to change the law with this suit. Presently, 37 states have laws which allow restaurants and bars to be sued by victims and families of drunk drivers; Maryland and Virginia are two states that don’t. The grandfather of the 10-year-old girl hopes that tougher laws will hopefully prevent more innocent people from being killed, and urges bartenders and those who serve alcohol to be more conscious of what they are doing. This case may lead to other parties, in addition to the drunk driver, being held responsible and partially to blame for DUI accidents.

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January 20, 2012

Hagerstown Man Faces DUI and Theft Charges Following Crash

The Washington Post reports that a 28-year-old man from Hagerstown, MD faces multiple charges following a weekend crash that left him with minor injuries. Maryland police state that troopers responded to a call about a vehicle collision at Devil’s Backbone County Park around 7:45 p.m. on January 8. Police say the driver crashed a Jaguar into a tree and left the scene. During the investigation of the accident, police had also received information that a Jaguar had been reported stolen. Authorities say they found the suspect walking on U.S. Route 40, and after being treated for his injuries, arrested and charged him with auto theft, negligent driving, driving under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, as well as other charges.

The common thought is that a Maryland DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) charge only constitutes the use of alcohol; however, the use of an illegal drug, or combining illegal drugs with alcohol, also falls under these categories. Drugged driving is an increasing problem and public health issue as the concern is that driving under the influence of a drug can impair a person’s reaction time, judgment, and motor skills. In the state of Maryland, a person is guilty of a DUI if he or she is:

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September 28, 2011

Car Chase Leads to DUI Arrest of Off-Duty Cop

On September 23, an off-duty Baltimore City police officer led law enforcement officers on a car chase and failed a breath alcohol test, according to a report in The Baltimore Sun. Prior to the chase, a Baltimore County police officer was monitoring traffic at 2 a.m. when a Black Lexus reportedly sped by at a speed of 72 miles per hour, more than twice the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour. After the Lexus nearly struck the cruiser, the officer attempted to pull the vehicle over. Instead of pulling over, the driver of the Lexus crossed five lanes and cut in front of several vehicles to get away from the officer. Several of the vehicles had to brake suddenly to avoid crashing into the Lexus.

According to published reports, after speeding for nearly a mile, the driver stopped suddenly, but failed to exit the vehicle. Law enforcement officers tried to remove him from the car to place him in handcuffs, but they noticed a semi-automatic handgun at his waist. The driver moved his hands toward the gun, but officers were able to remove the gun from his possession and administered field sobriety tests and a breath alcohol test after smelling alcohol on his breath. The breath test registered a reading of 0.14. The driver was immediately suspended from the police department after his arrest.

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September 22, 2011

Checkpoint Strikeforce Operation over Labor Day Weekend to Help Prevent Car Accidents

The Maryland Highway Safety Office uses the Checkpoint Strikeforce program to educate people about driving under the influence and remove impaired drivers from Maryland roadways. This program consists of highly-publicized DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols combined with media blitzes designed to educate drivers. State and local officers may work together to conduct the checkpoints, which are held during late nights, happy hours and early morning hours when impaired drivers tend to use Maryland roadways.

Law enforcement officers aim to keep reckless drivers off the road with additional saturation patrols. During Maryland DUI checkpoints, officers aggressively pursue those who commit traffic offenses such as speeding and failure to signal when changing lanes or making turns. Officers also target those who do not use their safety belts and those who do not have their children properly restrained. When used with DUI checkpoints and other DUI prevention measures, these saturation patrols can improve the safety of the roads used by millions of Maryland residents and out-of-state visitors each day.

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September 6, 2011

DUI Checkpoints Target Maryland Drivers

Labor Day weekend signified the end of summer and an opportunity to relax before the fall season. For law enforcement officers, it meant a great opportunity to set up DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols on Maryland roadways. During a DUI checkpoint, officers pull over every vehicle or a predetermined number of vehicles, hoping to identify impaired drivers and get them off the road.

drunk_driving_11181975.jpgPolice officers have very strict guidelines for conducting these checkpoints properly. If they do not pull over every vehicle, they must use a random mathematical formula to determine which vehicles to stop (e.g. every third vehicle or every fifth vehicle). They cannot stop vehicles based on personal preference. If officers suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can ask the driver to step out of the vehicle.

After asking the driver to step out of the vehicle, the officers may ask the driver to perform tests designed to look for impairment. These tests, called field sobriety tests, help officers judge a driver’s balance, reaction time and other factors related to possible impairment. If someone suspected of DUI fails these tests, the officers may ask him or her to take a breathalyzer test to determine his or her breath alcohol concentration.

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June 15, 2011

Suspected Drunk Driver Injures Deputy in Route 40 Crash in Edgewood

In the early hours of the morning on June 15, a suspected drunk driver struck the patrol car of a Hartford County sheriff’s deputy, according to an article in The Baltimore Sun. The driver, a 21-year-old man, along with a passenger, were traveling west on Route 40 in Edgewood. The man apparently lost control of his vehicle, hit a median, became airborne and crashed into the deputy’s car.

It took 45 minutes for volunteer firemen to free the deputy from his vehicle. Neither the driver nor the passenger in the other car were injured, however the deputy was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of his injuries. He was later released.

The 21-year-old faces charges of Maryland driving under the influence (DUI), failure to control speed and reckless and negligent driving, according to the sheriff’s office.

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May 2, 2011

St. Mary's County Kicks Off Summer DUI Patrols

The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office begins its summer DUI patrols this week, according to a recent article on TheBayNet.com. During the summer months, sheriff’s deputies will conduct increased patrols, known as “saturation patrols,” as well as increased DUI checkpoint locations.

The purpose of the increased patrols, according to the sheriff’s office, is to decrease the number of accidents and injuries caused by drunk driving. Summer means more driver’s education students on the road, many of whom have not yet learned to make the best choices to avoid a Maryland car accident. Summer also means more pedestrians and bicyclists on the roads. Cracking down on drunk drivers will help protect all those who are out on the roads in summer, according to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office.

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April 12, 2011

Maryland Attorney General Seeks to Ban DUI iPhone App

Maryland’s Attorney General recently joined forces with the Attorney General of Delaware to fight for a ban on an iPhone app that alerts drivers to the location of DUI checkpoints, according to an article in The Baltimore Sun.

The app, which can be used on smartphones like the iPhone, lists the locations of checkpoints that police use to screen drivers, often arresting those whom the police believe are driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol. The attorney general argues that the app allows drunk drivers to avoid the law by alerting them to alternate routes that do not require them to drive through the DUI checkpoint.

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February 23, 2011

Man Arrested Twice for DUI Within Five Hour Period

According to www.MDCoastDisptach.com, Maryland State Police Officers recently arrested a 34 year old Pennsylvania man twice within 5 hours for driving under the influence of alcohol. Reports indicate that the man was initially arrested for DUI at approximately 1:00 a.m. on westbound Route 90 near Berlin, Maryland. He was taken into custody, processed and released. The man was told by officers that he was prohibited from driving his vehicle in the state of Maryland until 1:00 p.m. that day.

At approximately 6 a.m. the man called police in an attempt to locate his vehicle saying that a friend was going to pick it up. Police advised him to go home and come back for the vehicle.

A short time later the man called a different police barrack inquiring about his car. Officers again informed him that he could not drive for at least 12 hours after the time of his arrest and told him to return for the vehicle at a later time.

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December 17, 2010

U.S. Immigration Officials Arrest 18 Illegal Aliens Charged with DUIs

Last month, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that their officers arrested 18 immigration fugitives and violators in Maryland during a three-day enforcement operation. Almost all of them had been convicted of driving under the influence. Of the 18 that were taken into custody, 13 were fugitives who had been ordered to leave the country by authorities, and two had been previously deported but returned to the U.S. illegally.

The operation was led by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for finding and removing criminal aliens, as well as immigration fugitives. The individuals who are most sought after are those who are involved in street gangs, those who pose a threat to national security, child sex offenders, and those who have received a DUI. This year, the Fugitive Operations Program has made almost 31,000 arrests nationwide. In Baltimore, 756 arrests were made. The 18 who were arrested last month are being held in custody pending removal from the U.S.

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November 22, 2010

Increase in Alcohol Tax Could Prevent DUIs and Crash Fatalities

Maryland alcohol taxes have not been raised in the past 50 years. The current alcohol excise taxes on alcohol in Maryland are less than a penny for one beer and less than two cents for wine or spirits. To some, this is an outrage as well as a cause for many health and crime issues in the state.

In a report entitled The Effects of Alcohol Excise Tax Increase on Public Health in Maryland by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, alcohol use is responsible for 1,278 deaths and 7,470 violent crimes in Maryland each year. The report continues to describe the negative effects of alcohol on Maryland residents, including the relatively high number of people addicted to or abusing alcohol.

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July 20, 2010

19-Year-Old Man DUI Suspect Flees MD Police in High-Speed Chase

A 19-year-old man driving a Ford Explorer fled Maryland State Troopers and was chased by several police vehicles at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. The pursuit ended when the man crashed into another vehicle on Route 50 in Dorchester County on Sunday, July 4, 2010. He had been suspected of drunk driving.

According to ABC7News, six people, including the fleeing driver, in two vehicles were injured and taken to Eastern Shore hospitals. The two passengers in the alleged drunk driver’s vehicle were treated and released from the hospital.

The Maryland State Trooper had pulled over the 19-year-old man after witnessing several unsafe driving behaviors. After pulling him over, the Trooper noticed a strong smell of alcohol and asked the driver to step out of the vehicle. Instead of complying with the officer's request, the driver accelerated, instigating the chase.

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May 6, 2010

DUI-Related Motorcycle Accidents Have Decreased

Statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that DUI-related motorcycle accidents have decreased in the Washington, DC area in the past six years. The greatest decreases have been in DUI-related motorcycle accidents that caused death.

In 2008, the most recent year for which NHTSA has completed its statistical analysis, five motorists in DC were killed in accidents involving both a motorcycle and a person driving under the influence of alcohol. The statistics do not show which party in each accident was driving under the influence, nor which party was killed. However, the number of DUI-related motorcycle accidents has decreased significantly from 2004, in which twenty-one such accidents resulted in deaths.

NHTSA has released a preliminary report discussing traffic safety statistics from 2009, but the agency has not specified how many of 2009’s Washington, DC traffic accidents involved a drunk driver.

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April 9, 2010

Maryland Senate Approves Bill to Require Ignition Interlock Devices for First-Time DUI Offenders

Motorists convicted on a first-time drunk driving offense in Maryland may face the potential of having to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. According to a recent report from The State Column, the Maryland state Senate voted for the bill in a 44 to 0 vote on March 26, 2010. However, based on amendments to the bill, those who are given probation before judgment are excused from the required use of ignition interlock devices. Before this bill, only repeat DUI offenders in Maryland were required to use ignition interlock devices, which operate to detect alcohol consumption on an individual’s breath before he or she is able to start their vehicle.

Based on the report, an analogous bill is also being considered by a House committee in which convicted DUI offenders may be required to use “ignition interlock systems” for a certain amount of time. The senate approved bill now moves to the House of Delegates, where, if it is passed, Governor Martin O’Malley is expected to approve and sign it. As these new efforts to increase the consequences of drunk driving in Maryland receive support from government officials, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is behind five bills to make drunk driving laws more strict in Louisiana.

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April 7, 2010

Montgomery County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

As one of the most affluent counties in the United States, Montgomery County is located in Maryland, southwest of Baltimore and just north of Washington, D.C. As a major part of both the Washington Metropolitan Area and the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, it is no surprise that Montgomery County has approximately 950,680 inhabitants as of July 2008. The county seat and largest municipality of Montgomery County is Rockville and most of the county’s residents live in unincorporated locales. As a result of being such a heavily populated and well-traveled region, visitors and inhabitants passing through Montgomery County may experience their share of DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while impaired) arrests.

In order to be charged with DWI in Maryland, a person must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.07. To be arrested for the more serious charge of DUI in Maryland, a motorist must have a BAC of 0.08. Even so, being charged with DUI or DWI does not mean that an individual will be convicted. Although being accused of driving while impaired or under the influence is often a confusing and overwhelming experience, accused individuals have important legal rights that should be defended. With an aggressive and skilled Montgomery County DWI defense lawyer on your side, you can trust that a strong defense can be made on your behalf.

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April 5, 2010

La Plata DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Stretching 6.9 square miles in size, La Plata, Maryland is the county seat of Charles County and houses a population of approximately 8,879 residents as of July 2008 estimates. Many La Plata residents commute to other areas, such as Washington, D.C. and Waldorf, for work. However, as of late, the city of La Plata has undergone a transformation into a business center, thanks largely in part to the recent development of office buildings and other area-wide construction.

Consequently, with the advent of new business comes an increase in traffic and local law enforcement patrols of La Plata city roads and highways. Couple that with the fact that La Plata has experienced population growth of more than 35% since the year 2000, and you are left with a large number of people who are potential victims of false arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI). When facing DUI charges, a good course of action is to retain the services of an experienced La Plata DUI defense attorney that will examine the circumstances under which an individual was arrested, and mount a strong defense on behalf of that individual.

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March 31, 2010

Howard County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Located right between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Howard County, Maryland is one of the most affluent counties in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With a population of approximately 269,457 residents as of 2005 estimates, Howard County is 252 square miles in size, and holds the distinction of being the only county in the state of Maryland that is entirely enclosed by land. Its county seat is Ellicott City, and Howard County, due to its close proximity to Baltimore, is considered a part of the Baltimore Metropolitan area.

Areas such as Howard County are often brimming with motorists, and as such, arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) are not uncommon. However, just because an individual has been accused of DUI in Howard County, it does not mean that the individual is actually guilty of such an accusation. Numerous factors come into play in any Maryland DUI case, and all factors need to be carefully examined in order to ascertain the most accurate picture of the events that transpired during the alleged instance of DUI.

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March 29, 2010

Charles County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Part of the Washington Metropolitan Area, Charles County is located in southern Maryland and houses a population of 140,444 residents according to 2007 estimates. While Charles County has a total land area of 643 square miles, 182 square miles is water and 461 square miles is land. In addition, Charles County has a population density of 303 residents per square mile (also as of 2007 estimates). The county seat of Charles County, La Plata, is home to the College of Southern Maryland.

Being a major part of the Washington Metropolitan Area, Charles County is no stranger to vehicular traffic entering into and leaving county limits. Consequently, accusations of driving under the influence (DUI) are common, and many residents and visitors may find themselves facing charges that they are not in fact guilty of. A good course of action for a motorist facing a Charles County DUI charge is to retain the services of a skilled defense attorney that has the experience and know-how to aggressively combat such charges, protecting the rights of the motorist in the process.

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March 24, 2010

Calvert County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Located in Southern Maryland, Calvert County houses a population of about 86,000 (as of 2004 estimates) and has the city of Prince Frederick as its county seat. As one of the several counties that make up the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, Calvert County has a land area of 215 square miles, and a total area of 345 square miles. Originally known for its farmland, Calvert County is now known as an exurb, meaning that residents commute into larger metropolitan areas for work opportunities. With so many residents commuting into and out of Calvert County, it is no wonder that instances of DUI and DWI affect so many motorists on the road.

Maryland saw more than 24,000 arrests made for DUI in 2007. However, not all motorists accused of driving under the influence are guilty. The circumstances surrounding a DUI charge in Calvert County need to be carefully examined in order to determine as accurately as possible what in fact happened. A good course of action for an individual facing such charges is to retain the services of an experienced Calvert County DUI defense attorney who will mount a strong defense.

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March 22, 2010

Bethesda DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

According to Forbes magazine, Bethesda, Maryland ranks first as the most educated small town in the nation. An unincorporated area with no official boundaries, Bethesda has a population of about 59,000 as of July 2007 estimates, and measures only 13.2 square miles in size. Located just Northwest of Washington D.C., Bethesda is no stranger to many people traversing its roads and highways each year.

In 2007, there were a total of 24,230 DUI arrests made in Maryland. With such an influx of travelers coming and going, accusations of driving while under the influence are bound to affect Bethesda motorists. In the event that a motorist is accused of DUI in Bethesda, it is usually in the motorist’s best interest to retain the services of an experienced defense attorney who will examine every detail surrounding the motorist’s arrest, ensuring that a strong defense is mounted on their behalf.

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March 17, 2010

Anne Arundel County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Anne Arundel County has approximately 500,000 inhabitants and its county seat is Annapolis (which is also the capital of Maryland). As a part of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area along the Chesapeake Bay, Anne Arundel County is often referred to as the “land of pleasant living”. Anne Arundel County covers over 534 miles of coastline and is well-known for its rich heritage, closeness to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., water sports, fishing, boating, and swimming. Due to the vast amount of visitors and residents taking to the roads and highways throughout Anne Arundel County, it is not surprising that, every year, many arrests are made for driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI).

Being charged with DUI or DWI in Anne Arundel County does not mean that a person is guilty or that he or she will be convicted. Nevertheless, a test displaying a BAC of 0.07 will get you criminally charged with DWI in Maryland, and a BAC of 0.08 or more may contribute to a more serious charge of DUI in Maryland. However, test results are not full-proof and an officer who arrests you for driving drunk may not know whether you were actually drunk, what other circumstances may have been applicable, or how safely you were driving.

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March 15, 2010

Annapolis DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

The city of Annapolis is the capital of Maryland and is the county seat of Anne Arundel County. Located along the Chesapeake Bay at the opening of the Severn River, Annapolis has an estimated population of 36,524. Annapolis is not only a bustling part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, but is also home to St. John’s College and the United States Naval Academy. As it is in many other large cities, Annapolis residents and visitors may experience arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI).

Being arrested for DUI or DWI in Annapolis can be an intimidating process that often leaves individuals feeling weighed down and confused about their legal rights. This is only one of many reasons why those arrested for DUI and DWI may benefit from having an experienced Annapolis DUI defense attorney on their side.

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March 2, 2010

New Bill Proposes DUI Plates for Repeat Offenders

Based on an article from wboc.com, a proposed bill would require residents of Maryland who are convicted of three or more DUIs to have a special yellow license plate that reads “DUI.” The Prince George’s County lawmaker backing the bill feels that drivers should be aware of repeat Maryland DUI offenders on the road.

The bill would also mandate the plates for five years following the third DUI conviction. Maryland officials indicated that there are 2,029 drivers in the state who would be required to have the plates should the bill pass. Officials from AAA mid-Atlantic told members of the House Judiciary Committee that other states have recently been adopting similar measures.

Similar bills have been proposed in the past, but have failed to win approval. Many still feel that this bill could have embarrassing and excessive repercussions for those convicted of multiple DUIs. The new bill could also make it difficult for those with the DUI license plate to find employment and could lead to unnecessary social alienation.

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January 19, 2010

New Application Alerts Drivers to DUI Checkpoints

Drivers with a GPS or Smartphone can now receive instant warnings when approaching DUI checkpoints and speed traps as well as red light and speed cameras. Police fear that this will aid offenders in escaping arrest. Phantom Alert is the company that produces the application which began as a method to help drivers avoid tickets for a small fee.

The checkpoint notification shows up on devices as a martini glass followed by a police car. In Washington D.C, common DUI checkpoints are around popular nightspots. Employees at Phantom Alert are instructed to search police press releases and news reports for new locations. There is also an option for users to report their own findings, which can be helpful to other users since in areas like Montgomery County, Maryland, police sometimes announce checkpoints without specific locations.

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December 1, 2009

Fatal DWI Crash Leads to Sentence of 1-3 Years in State Prison

According to a recent lohud.com article, a 24-year-old former all-star basketball athlete has been sentenced to one to three years in a state prison for causing a drunken driving accident in New York that killed her friend, Lisa Marie Mornay. Meghan Wood, a 24-year-old former basketball player and leading scorer her senior year at Loyola College in Maryland, was sentenced on November 4, 2009.

The New York State Judge handling the case could have sentenced Wood to five years "shock" probation in which she would serve the first six months in jail but he wanted his sentence to be a deterrent to others who would drive drunk. At her sentencing, Supreme Court Justice Lester Adler chastised Wood saying, “You endangered every single person on the road that morning. I can’t forget that; I can’t put that out of my mind.”

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November 3, 2009

Alexandria Ex-Chief of Police Faces Collateral Consequences of a DUI Arrest

In July 2009, a police chief was caught driving drunk in an unmarked city car after being in a fender-bender in Arlington County, according to a Washington Post article. Speaking publically now for the first time regarding his DUI arrest, the former police chief’s story reveals just how serious and all-encompassing DUI consequences can be.

According to the article, the arrested man was with the Alexandria department for about 20 years and served as chief for the last three. One of the most detrimental consequences of his DUI arrest was having to step down from a job that he loved. He also continues to experience the distress and embarrassment of being a man with a criminal record. But that is not all. Recently, when the former Alexandria police chief was on the phone attempting to get a new life insurance policy, he was told, “There’s nothing I can do for you.”

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October 7, 2009

A List of New Laws in Maryland: DWI Consequences Influenced

As the month of October begins at full-speed, Maryland residents must become aware of new laws that have been introduced in the State. These new regulations are being enforced to help prevent crime and injury, especially when it comes to being behind the wheel. According to a times-news.com report, one of the new laws will affect those arrested for DWI. The new law states that within a span of five years, if a person hits their second DWI arrest, he or she will face an obligatory license suspension for one year.

According to the article, another new law that has taken affect in Maryland is an official ban against texting while driving. If you are convicted of texting while driving, you may face a steep fine of $400 in addition to having one point added to your driving record. Considering that the law will make exceptions for emergencies, cases involving texting and driving may present some complications given that one person’s definition of an emergency may differ from another’s.

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September 29, 2009

Vehicular Homicide and the Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Accident

A recent article about a man who may be charged for fleeing the scene of an auto accident that killed a pedestrian in Anne Arundel County raises many questions regarding the legal penalties surrounding vehicular manslaughter, especially when such an act takes place in a hit-and-run situation and/or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In this particular incident, police have said that prescription drug use may have been a contributing factor that led the 26-year old driver to lose control of his Dodge Caravan, strike a woman that had been standing on a nearby sidewalk and drive away from the scene. The suspected vehicle driven during the accident has been found by law enforcement officers.

Although the article didn’t specify the exact charges being brought against the driver in this incident, it can be speculated, based on the circumstances surrounding this case, that the driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter and operating a vehicle in a grossly negligent manner. The penalties for these charges can include significant prison time and hefty fines. If it is determined that the driver was operating his vehicle under the influence of drugs, additional prison time could be added. These charges could all be on top of other criminal charges or traffic violations associated with a particular incident, such as driving with a suspended license. Being suspected of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death may also contribute to an increase in punishment.

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August 11, 2009

Howard County Employee Faces DUI and Bribery Charges

An employee of the Department of Economic Development was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol recently and faces additional charges of bribery for offering a police officer $5,000 to reduce her DUI charges to “lesser charges.” An article on Gazette.net said that the 51-year-old female employee was stopped by the police around seven in the morning on March 26, 2009, after they had been alerted by reports of an erratic driver near a fast-food restaurant in the 26400 block of Ridge Road in Damascus. She faces charges of:

  • DUI in Maryland

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol

  • Driver failure to yield right of way while crossing a highway

  • Violating a driver’s license restriction

  • Possessing more than one driver’s license

A spokesperson for Howard County said that the woman was placed on paid leave from her position as a business development specialist immediately after her arrest but would not release any details about the woman’s work record as it is covered by Maryland’s privacy laws. Apparently, the woman was driving a county vehicle at the time of her Maryland DUI arrest even though she was not permitted to drive the county car after business hours. County policy does allow an employee to take a county vehicle home from work if they have county business to attend to early the next morning, but the spokesperson said that the employee had no such business on the morning of her arrest.

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July 30, 2009

New Law Will Make Maryland Parks Alcohol-Free This Fall

Cracking open a cold beer or relaxing with any other alcoholic beverage will be an illegal activity in Maryland state parks beginning this fall. This article which appeared recently on the website HometownAnnapolis.com claims that anyone violating this new Maryland law will face fines beginning on November 1, 2009. According to Maryland Park Service officials, the only place that alcoholic beverages will be allowed will be designated picnic shelters and only when someone has obtained a $35 permit from the park’s manager. If park officials catch someone with an alcoholic beverage anywhere beyond designated areas, they could receive a $55 fine.

Under current Maryland law, visitors to state parks can drink alcohol in motor homes, picnic shelters, campgrounds, and cabins without a permit. Under the new law, motor homes and full-service cabins will be exempt from enforcement of the alcohol ban. This new law represents an expansion of an alcohol ban that has been in place for many years which prohibited people from drinking alcohol on park beaches and grassy areas.

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July 28, 2009

Maryland Traffic Policies Earn Place on “Worst of” List for Exploiting Drivers

The National Motorists Association salutes the beginning of the summer driving season with its annual list of the states with the best and worst motor vehicle laws for summer travelers. The news is not good for Maryland, which earned a number three spot on the worst list. Only New Jersey and Ohio have more driving laws and vehicle-related enforcement policies that are more slanted toward filling state coffers.

Some of the behaviors that give Maryland a bad name with summer travelers include policies that have been highly touted by public officials as part of their on-going (and some would argue politically motivated) fight against drunk driving.

Roadside sobriety checkpoints are a common sight during Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend. Public officials roll out plans for these sobriety roadblocks with great fanfare. From the officials’ point of view, a sobriety checkpoint represents the easiest way to prove to taxpayers that something is being done about drunk driving in Maryland.

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July 14, 2009

Maryland DUI Accident Tragically Kills Teen

A 16-year-old boy was struck and killed by a sport utility vehicle recently while he attempted to cross Route 50 in West Ocean City. An official from the Maryland State Police said that the teen was struck and killed just west of the Harry W. Kelley Memorial Bridge sometime during the evening on May 16, 2009. The article about the Maryland DUI was recently published in the Baltimore Sun and reports that the teen was with a group of friends when he ran across the westbound lanes of Route 50 and made it to the median when he was hit by a Jeep Wrangler.

He was taken to Atlantic General Hospital where he died from his injuries. Law enforcement officials investigating the Maryland DUI accident say that the Jeep’s driver was a 29-year-old man from Massapequa Park, N.Y. He has been charged with driving under the influence and driving while impaired. The teen has been identified and is from Ocean Pines. The principal of Stephen Decatur High School told investigators that the teen was a sophomore at the school.

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June 9, 2009

Maryland DUI Checkpoint in Force for First Weekend in May

On May 4, 2009, Gazette.net reported in a story that Maryland police will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint on Friday, May 8, 2009. The checkpoint is part of a larger multistate operation organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Called “Checkpoint Strikeforce,” the operation will last for six months consisting of a series of checkpoints and aggressive enforcement tactics conducted throughout Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Beginning Friday, May 8, at 9:00PM, the sobriety checkpoint will stop drivers and administer the standard battery of field tests—including the breathalyzer test—in an effort to deter motorists from driving while under the influence. The checkpoint will be operational until 3:00 the following morning.

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June 2, 2009

Montgomery County DUI Arrest Invalid after Security Tape Viewing

A Gazette.net story reports that an officer’s DUI arrest has been found invalid after an in-court review of a videotape which clearly disputed the facts of the arrest. According to the story, on May 3, 2008, Officer Dina Hoffman arrested George Zaliev on a charge of DUI in Maryland, claiming that she had found the man sleeping behind the wheel of his car.

When the case went to court, the arresting officer repeatedly testified that Zaliev was definitely in the front seat of the vehicle at the time of the arrest. However, during the DUI trial, the criminal defense attorney played a video made by a store security camera which clearly showed Zaliev sleeping in the backseat of the car.

Officer Hoffman now faces a perjury investigation in connection with her statements, and the charges against Zaliev have been dropped.

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May 14, 2009

DUI Stop Leads to Drug Trafficking Charges

DelawareOnline reported in an article on March 20, 2009, that Georgetown police had stopped an Ocean City, MD man for allegedly driving under the influence. The routine DUI stop took a different turn when police searched the man and allegedly discovered over 40 packets of heroin in the subject’s pockets.

A further search of the DUI suspect’s vehicle revealed more heroin and drug paraphernalia. The total amount of heroin discovered was approximately 10 grams. Since the drugs were packaged in small discrete quantities, police were able to charge the man with drug trafficking.

Although this incident took place in Delaware, one could extrapolate what would happen if the charges were made in the Maryland court system. Under Maryland’s drug laws, the type of sentencing possible in a drug trafficking case depends on the type of controlled substance involved. Heroin, as a Schedule I narcotic, merits some of the most severe punishments under Maryland law.

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May 12, 2009

Maryland Mom Sentenced to Spread Word of DUI Crash in Schools

A story from DelmarvaNow.com reports in an article that a Pittsville, MD mother received an unusual sentence as punishment for a DUI charge—sharing her DUI experiences with schoolchildren.

Bessie Birch was arrested for DUI in November 2008 after a head-on collision. At the time of the accident, she was transporting her three children. One of the children incurred injuries in the accident, although details of the extent of the injury are unclear. On March 19, 2009, the Wicomico County District Court ruled that the 25-year-old mother would have to tour Maryland high schools, relating the details of her story and her learning experience.

In Maryland, transporting a minor while operating a vehicle while under the influence is an aggravating circumstance that can add to the jail time and fines levied against a drunk driver. In this case, the judge chose to suspend the woman’s one year jail sentence in favor of sending a message to the public.

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May 5, 2009

Maryland Trooper Charged with DUI

Gazette.net reports in an article that a Maryland police officer has been arrested on drunken driving charges. The charges stem from a March 28, 2009, incident in which a Montgomery County police corporal crashed a police cruiser into a concrete barrier.

As Montgomery County police investigate the charges, the officer’s arrest powers have been suspended.

A DUI charge in Maryland carries more penalties than prison terms, probation and fines. A social penalty is also levied against those charged with drunken driving. Unfortunately, the social punishment hits someone charged with a DUI before any court date is set and before a sentence is handed down.

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April 29, 2009

Father and Son DUI Charges

From the York Daily Record comes a story of a father and son arrested for DUI not just on the same night, but at the same time.

According to details from the Daily Record, a state trooper stopped a Pennsylvania man. While the officer questioned the driver, the driver’s son appeared on the scene to check up on his father. As a result, the trooper arrested both the father and son on drunk driving charges.

The law enforcement departments of every state take drunk driving seriously. From a law enforcement standpoint, DUI arrests give the perception of cracking down on DUI, which makes good headlines and good political sense. Unfortunately, in the rush to come down hard on DUI drivers, the police can sometimes push the envelope of legal investigative and arrest powers. While the police are winning political points, they may also violate the rights of ordinary citizens.

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March 10, 2009

“Rethinking Drinking” is a Resourceful New Website

An article in USA Today reported the launching of a new website by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) called “Rethinking Drinking.” The site aims at helping those who enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages on a regular basis to determine what kind of drinker they are and whether they are at risk for developing a drinking problem.

The article interviewed a group of women hanging out at a bar after work. Natalie Penoyar, 25, said, “The older you get, the more you think about your actions and your mortality.”

Her attitude is one that the director of the Division of Treatment and Recovery Research at the NIAAA, Mark Willenbring, agrees on.

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February 26, 2009

Carroll County Alcohol-Related Collision Yields DWI/DUI Charges

The Baltimore Sun reported in an article on January 11, 2009, that alcohol may have been a factor in a fatal January 10 car accident in Carroll County. According to the Sun, 21-year-old Timothy Mahoney of Sykesville lost control of his vehicle early on the morning of January 10. Mahoney crossed over into the opposite lane of Route 32 and struck a truck driven by Richard Dixon, also of Sykesville.

Mahoney was pronounced dead at the scene and Dixon was treated for injuries at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Officers found an opened case of beer in Mahoney’s vehicle.

The Sun also reported that one of the witnesses to the crash, Brian Noyes of Eldersburg, had also been drinking. When deputies administered an alcohol test at the scene, Noyes’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.06, lower than the legal limit for intoxication.

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February 24, 2009

Maryland and Washington, DC, DUI/DWI

Washington, DC, and Maryland share the distinction of having zero-tolerance for drunk driving. Although every state in the nation aggressively punishes driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, Maryland and the nation’s capitol have taken the battle a step further by creating laws that undermine the national legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit.

In most states, a driver can be charged with drunk driving if he or she is found to have a BAC of at least 0.08, the federally mandated limit. If a driver has a BAC of less than 0.08, no charges can be made. A few states—including Maryland and the District of Columbia—have weakened the BAC limit in the pursuit of a zero-tolerance policy and allowed police to charge drivers with drunken driving.

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