DUI Defense in Baltimore Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland is the home of the Champion Ravens and the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore is home to over 600,000 people and encompasses several towns throughout the State of Maryland. From Camden yards to Federal Hill, from Fort McHenry to the BSO, there is much to do in and around the town. Whether you live in the City or Baltimore County it is important to be careful with one’s alcohol consumption at any social function from the Walters Art Museum to Baltimore's inner Harbor because the DUI and alcohol enforcement team is always on duty.
In and throughout Baltimore there are a number of law enforcement agencies which are charged with the responsibility of keeping Maryland’s streets safe. Around the inner Harbor area and the Harbor Tunnel it is not uncommon to see MTA or Maryland Transit Authority Police. The MTA police travel around the Harbor Tunnel and up Interstate 95 into Baltimore County. Their law enforcement vehicles look different than Maryland state troopers and consequently do not always stand out to an unsuspecting driver. But if you travel in Baltimore’s harbor tunnel and switch lanes illegally, speed, or get into an accident around the tunnel or the toll plaza you will be confronted by the MTA police. They will charge the same DUI as a Maryland state trooper or a Baltimore police officer.
Some folks have said that MTA police are not as well trained as Baltimore’s regular police force or Maryland State Troopers but they seem to get the job done with great regularity. All the same rules apply if you are stopped by this law enforcement agency meaning they will first attempt to determine if there is alcohol in the car or on the driver’s breath. Once they perceive the odor of alcohol things start a downward spiral from there. The next thing you can anticipate is being asked to step out of your car for field sobriety tests. In Baltimore towns & such as Towson, Pikesville, Parkville, Essex and neighboring counties like Anne Arundel County and Howard County, it is not required that a driver perform field sobriety tests or FSTs. The officer will ask you to get out of the car and that is required for officer safety, so if you choose not to you will undoubtedly find yourself being removed from the car by a group of pissed of police officers. The next thing they will ask you to do is the field sobriety tests. And they will go to great lengths to encourage you to perform the roadside gymnastics in terms of threatening you with a night in jail or suggesting that if you pass the tests you will be able to leave. Both of these things are generally not true.
In Baltimore City and Baltimore County, is unlikely you will be free to leave after performing the field sobriety tests. The reason for that is that it is unlikely you will be able to do a perfect job and the officers go to great lengths to record every misstep you make in order that they can enhance the prosecution against you later on. It is nearly impossible to perform the field sobriety tests in a state of complete sobriety under normal circumstances much less when you are on the side of a busy road being accused of a crime, with a pack of police officers wearing guns. Consequently you can be fairly certain you will not perform the test adequately and therefore one should think twice before attempting to do so and giving the state more evidence to use against you in trial. In Baltimore City, more so than any place else, the officer has discretion about whether to lock you up for the evening or let you go after you go to the police station. Most other counties in Maryland including Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Frederick County will generally release DUI defendants after the arrest barring something more significant happening at the time of the arrest or its aftermath. In Baltimore City they seem to like to lock people up for the weekend on more occasions than any other county throughout Maryland.
Having said that, the officer’s idle threats should not serve as the basis for you to volunteer your Constitutional rights not to incriminate yourself or testify against yourself. When you perform field sobriety tests on the side of the street you are in essence testifying against yourself because you are giving the state evidence which they will then turn around and use against you at a future time in a court of law. As stated above, it is not a level playing field because of the time of day or night that these arrests typically take place; officers standing around you with guns, and traffic whizzing by can make it very difficult to concentrate or even hear what the officer is asking you to do. Again there is no penalty for your refusal to perform these roadside gymnastic tests.
The police officer’s ultimate goal in any DUI arrest is to get you to blow in the machine at the police station. Any breath sample that you may provide on the street at the time of the initial arrest is not admissible by the State of Maryland (however it is admissible by the defendant if it is a favorable number), nor does it alleviate your responsibility to blow at the police station when you are asked and after being read your legal rights (not Miranda rights). if you refuse to blow in the breath machine at the police station there will be administrative and penalties imposed against your Maryland drivers license. Under Noah’s Law, if you refuse to blow in the machine you face a suspension of your driving privilege for 270 days; albeit you can get an interlock on your car for one year and avoid this suspension. This is generally encouraged by the state of Maryland and can be done without requesting an administrative hearing.
The administrative penalties in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland have definitely gotten tougher as a result of the change in the law but there continues to be effective defenses on a case-by-case basis. It remains important to seek the counsel of experienced DUI attorneys for your specific case as soon after an arrest as practicable.