Drunk driving is illegal. However it is not illegal to drink and drive. Let me qualify that, it is illegal to drink too much and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. That means, that you cannot drink too much alcohol or consume a drug that impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
If a police officer pulls you over and suspect that you have been drinking or that you are on a substance that impairs your ability to drive a motor vehicle, you will more likely be investigated and arrested for DUI or DWI. As a Maryland DUI lawyer we have represented hundreds of clients that have been charged with drunk driving in Maryland and have compiled the following six things to do if you’re pulled over for drunk driving.
#1 – Pull Over Safely and Stay in Your Vehicle
As soon as a police officer spots your vehicle and establishes a reason to make a traffic stop, that officer is collecting evidence for a future prosecution. If you are speeding or driving reckless or negligent, the officer will note the driving behavior in his report and it could be used against you in court.
So, if you see blue lights in your rearview mirror, stop the vehicle in a safe and orderly fashion without incurring any future traffic infractions. Do not get out of the car. Police officers are trained to react when drivers exit the vehicle immediately upon stopping and some recognize this as a threat. Remain in your vehicle and roll down your window just enough to hand the officer your license and registration.
#2 – Provide Your License and Registration
A police officer will ask for your license and registration as he approaches the vehicle. He may also ask you if you have been drinking or taking drugs prior to the stop. Provide the officer your license and registration and if asked, your proof of insurance. However, you do not have to answer any other questions that the officer may ask.
#3 – Remain Silent
You are not required to answer any additional questions the police officer may ask you. This is protected under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution which grants you the right to remain silent and not self-incriminate yourself. Police officers are trained during a drunk driving investigation to pick up on vocal cues from the suspected drunk driver. That means if you are slurring your speech or have a Mushmouth and the officer will note this in his report and it could adversely affect you in the prosecution of the drunk driving charges.
#4 – Be Polite to the Officer
Kindness will go a long way in making the drunk driving investigation a little less painful for you. The officers who arrest individuals for drunk driving will typically note in the report if you were polite and cooperative. They will also note if you are impolite and uncooperative and this could hurt you before the judge or jury. A belligerent arrestee may be used as evidence against you to show that you were impaired or intoxicated at the time of the arrest.
#5 – Make a Decision Regarding the Field Sobriety Tests
If a police officer stops you and establishes probable cause then they may ask you to perform field sobriety test. You do not have to take the field sobriety test. These tests are intended to establish a criminal prosecution against you for drunk driving. The more evidence of police officer and the state has the easier it will be for them to prove that you were driving under the influence or driving while impaired. Therefore, if you do not take the field sobriety test then they have less evidence to use against you at trial.
#6 – Taking the Breath Test or Not
If a police officer establishes that you are driving drunk then they will more likely arrest you. Again, don’t panic when they place handcuffs on you, it is for their safety and a standard procedure for most police departments. The police officer will then transport you to the police station and ask you to submit to a breath alcohol test.
These tests are administered on a device that is calibrated to detect the presence of alcohol in your system. In Maryland, you are not required to take the breath test, however there are consequences to refusing. If an individual refuses to take a breath test then their license will be suspended for 270 days for a first offense and 2 years for a second or subsequent offense.
If you do like to take the test and the alcohol concentration is less than .08, then there are no administrative penalties against your license in Maryland. If you take the test and return an alcohol concentration result of .08 but less than .15 then your license may be suspended what you are eligible for a restricted or modified license. If you take a test with a result of .15 or more then your license will be suspended. For both the refusal and alcohol concentration result of .15 or more, you may have the option to participate in the ignition interlock program.
Contact One of Our Maryland DUI Defense Lawyers
Attorney Randolph Rice is a Maryland DUI lawyer and former prosecutor. He has represented drunk driving clients since 2009 and won numerous DUI and DWI cases returning a verdict of not guilty for clients. If you’re facing a DUI or DWI in Maryland and you need the assistance of an experienced drunk driving lawyer, contact his office today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your legal options.