Maryland's drivers have the same Constitutional rights that protect all drivers in this country, including folks charged with DUI and DWI offenses (well they are supposed to). One of your important rights is the right *not* to be witness against yourself also known as the right against self-incrimination. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution says that the Government cannot force a citizen to be a witness against himself in a criminal case. Many people have heard of "pleading the fifth." Pleading the fifth is exercising one's right against self-incrimination and thereby electing not to testify or answer questions because whatever you say may be used against you in a court of law. Many people are under the misconception that this only applies in the courtroom but it also applies on the street and in the police station. As an experienced and seasoned lawyer in Baltimore, one of the biggest problems I see from DUI defendants is their inclination to sing like a bird to the police pre-arrest (trying to talk their way out of it) and thereby incriminating themselves unnecessarily.
Maryland citizens have the Constitutional right to not incriminate themselves during a DUI/DWI arrest, to say nothing to the police. Maryland drivers should exercise that right more often. This is one of our most important and foundational Constitutional Rights when dealing with law enforcement. Many people who are arrested for driving under the influence or DUI would benefit from a better understanding of their Constitutional Rights. Knowing that one does not have to be a witness against one's self is incredibly important when dealing with law enforcement, meaning that you do not have to tell the cops where you have been, where you are going or what you had to drink. These types of questions are reminiscent to me of 1945 Germany.
Interestingly, most folks in Maryland are under a serious misconception about our DUI laws and how they affect drivers. As a Baltimore DUI lawyer, these issues come up frequently. For example, law-makers and law enforcement officials often publicize that .08 is the blood alcohol legal limit in Maryland. Thereby perpetuating the misunderstanding that if one has a blood alcohol level below .08 they will not be arrested and charged with DUI. In fact, the majority of Maryland drivers with a blood alcohol level of .05, .04 or lower are still arrested with DUI. Clients often wonder how this is even possible. Being a DUI lawyer in Maryland means understanding that .00 is the real and true blood alcohol limit, even if the Government does not tell you that, even if they misrepresent the truth on their billboards and television commercials.
Unfortunately, many people elect to tell the police officer how much they have had to drink when they are initially pulled over and questioned. Even if you have consumed only one or two beers, that is the golden ticket to the cops which gives them the ability to request (or order you- depending on how nice your cop is) to perform field sobriety tests. The first thing Maryland drivers need to know is that they are NOT required to perform field sobriety (FSTs); you can simply decline without punishment. Second, these tests can and sometimes are administered under a number of difficult weather and environmental conditions, like rain, snow, high wind or un-level ground; cops are not supposed to do that but often times do it anyway. Ultimately, DUI enforcement cops are arresting and charging citizens with DUI/DWI based partly upon discretion, which is encouraged, as police officers are *strongly encouraged* to make DUI arrests on a monthly basis.
Most folks are not aware that they can refuse to incriminate themselves. It is well within one's constitutional rights to refuse both the roadside field tests and even the breath test. However, refusing a breath test does carry repercussions with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Even so, a good Baltimore DUI lawyer that has experience with this type of case can be a valuable asset both in court and at the Motor Vehicle Administrative hearings.
While driving under the influence of alcohol, DUI or DWI is never condoned, it nevertheless is important to protect one's constitutional rights at all times thus ensuring the best legal outcome and further ensuring that the Government does its' job in a fair and legal way. It is important to understand that Police officers may read a DUI suspect their Miranda Rights but sometimes they do not. Either way, there is no need to feel intimidated, exercise your right to an attorney and against self-incrimination. It is not an admission of guilt to remain silent. In fact, it is an important step to ensuring your best legal outcome.
If charged with a DUI in Maryland, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible following the arrest. Protecting one's rights starts with contacting an attorney as soon as possible so that appropriate steps can be taken quickly to protect your license to drive and to keep you out of jail. We invite you to contact us anytime day or night at 410 484 1111for a complimentary evaluation of your case.