Germantown, Silver Spring and throughout Montgomery County, Maryland DWI Lawyers Providing Legal Services for Clients Charged With a DWI
The state of Maryland prohibits drivers from consuming alcohol or drugs and operating a vehicle and imposes harsh penalties for those who are found to be engaging in drunk driving. Impaired or intoxicated drivers may be charged with a DWI or with a DUI, depending on their blood alcohol content (BAC) percentage obtained during a breathalyzer or blood test. Our attorneys assist clients dealing with a DWI charge in Germantown, Silver Spring and throughout Montgomery County, Maryland and surrounding areas and provide some answers to common questions about DWIs in Maryland.
What Is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Maryland?
The terms DUI and DWI are often used as synonyms, but in Maryland, these letters stand for two different types of offense. In Maryland, a driver is considered to be under the influence of alcohol when their BAC is at 0.08% or higher. However, many drivers who test below that level may still be acting erratically and may be too impaired to drive without endangering their safety and the safety of others on the road.
For that reason, the state of Maryland determined that drivers whose BAC is between 0.07 and 0.08% may be committing the offense of Driving While Impaired (DWI). Drivers charged with DWI may sometimes pass a breathalyzer test, but if an officer deems their behavior as unsafe and the driver is showing signs of being intoxicated, he or she may be charged with a DWI.
A DUI, on the other hand, is considered a more serious offense. Drivers who fail a breathalyzer test because their BAC is 0.08 or higher may be charged with Driving Under the Influence. Those charged with a DUI may face harsher penalties and may potentially be charged with additional offenses in some cases. In short, doing any sort of drinking and making the decision to get behind the wheel can result in significant consequences, regardless of whether you are facing a DWI or a DUI charge in Maryland.
What Are the Possible Penalties for a DWI in Maryland?
Penalties for someone found driving while impaired can vary in severity and be influenced by factors such as the driver’s age and whether this is their first DWI or not. Even someone who is under the influence of legal drugs (such as narcotics) may be subject to a DWI charge, facing penalties that may include up to one year in jail and payment of significant fines.
If convicted of a DWI, a driver may have his or her license suspended for a certain period of time, or they may have points added to their license by the MVA (Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration), which may result in a revoked license. In some cases, a judge may opt for an alternative sentence in place of sending someone to jail after a DWI. This may include a license suspension and/or other sentences such as probation, community service, home detention, and the mandatory use of an ignition interlock device (IID). Every DWI is different, and penalties may vary, but working with an attorney may help you increase your chances of receiving a more lenient sentence.
What Are Possible Defenses to a DWI Charge in Maryland?
There are many common defense strategies an attorney may use to defend a client facing a DWI charge. One of these strategies is questioning the circumstances of the traffic stop, and whether the law enforcement officer had enough probable cause to make the stop in the first place. If the attorney can prove that the traffic stop was illegal, any evidence collected against the defendant during the stop may likely be considered inadmissible in court.
Another possible defense is to question the validity and accuracy of the tests used to identify the defendant’s BAC and determine that he or she was driving while impaired. Field sobriety tests can be highly subjective, and if not administered in alignment with the NHTSA regulations, may be considered invalid. The same goes for breathalyzer evidence – if the machine was not properly calibrated or the officer did not have the proper certification to conduct the test, the results may be inaccurate. Finally, an attorney may question the accuracy of the arresting officer’s testimony. An officer may not always end up giving an accurate testimony, and an attorney may be able to challenge their testimony in court.
How Can a DWI Attorney Help?
Being charged with a DWI can be a stressful situation, especially if this is your first time being charged with a vehicular offense. It may be hard to think clearly or even know what steps to take. An attorney can help you by conducting a thorough investigation of your case, examining the circumstances of your arrest, and coming up with a defense strategy to attempt to get your charges dropped.
When your charges cannot be dropped, an attorney may be able to negotiate a more lenient sentence, such as probation and community service instead of jail time. In some cases, the state may want to pressure you into pleading guilty in exchange for a less severe sentence, and an attorney may be able to advise you on whether you should accept their proposition or whether you have good a chance of getting your charges dropped after going to trial.
If you have been charged with a DWI in Germantown, Silver Spring and throughout Montgomery County, Maryland or within the vicinity, contact the DWI attorneys at Paré & Associates, LLC as soon as possible. The sooner you call, the better your chances may be of reaching a positive outcome for your case. Don’t fight your DWI charges alone; reach out to the legal team at Paré & Associates, LLC to see how we can help. Call Paré & Associates, LLC today at (301) 962-2492 to schedule a free consultation.