Being arrested for a DUI can be a frightening and confusing experience. It is essential to understand the process and know what to expect to protect your rights and build a strong defense. In this blog post, we will discuss the key steps in the DUI arrest process and provide tangible and useful tips to help you navigate this challenging situation.
1. The Traffic Stop and Initial Investigation
The DUI arrest process typically begins with a traffic stop. Law enforcement officers may stop your vehicle for various reasons, such as speeding, running a red light, or exhibiting signs of impaired driving. During the initial investigation, the officer will look for signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or the smell of alcohol on your breath.
It is crucial to remain calm and cooperative during the traffic stop. However, remember that you have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. You can politely decline to answer any questions about your alcohol consumption or where you have been.
2. Field Sobriety Tests and Preliminary Breath Test
If the officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol, they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). FSTs are a series of physical and mental exercises designed to assess your coordination, balance, and cognitive abilities. Common FSTs include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test.
It is important to note that FSTs are not mandatory, and you have the right to refuse them. However, refusing to take FSTs may lead to your arrest and could be used against you in court.
Additionally, the officer may ask you to take a preliminary breath test (PBT) using a portable breathalyzer. In Maryland, you can refuse the PBT without penalty, but a refusal may also lead to your arrest.
3. Arrest and Chemical Testing
If the officer believes they have probable cause to arrest you for DUI, they will take you into custody. At this point, you will be required to submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). In Maryland, this test is typically a breath test using a more accurate machine called the Intoximeter.
Under Maryland's implied consent law, by driving on the state's roads, you have implicitly agreed to submit to chemical testing if arrested for DUI. Refusing the test can result in an automatic 270-day license suspension for a first offense and 2-year suspension for subsequent offenses.
4. Booking and Release
After your arrest, you will be taken to the police station for booking. This process includes taking your fingerprints, photograph, and personal information. Depending on the circumstances, you may be released on your own recognizance or required to post bail.
5. Court Proceedings and DUI Penalties
Following your arrest, you will face criminal charges in court. DUI penalties in Maryland can include fines, jail time, probation, and license suspension. The severity of the penalties depends on factors such as your BAC level, prior DUI convictions, and whether anyone was injured or killed as a result of your impaired driving.
It is crucial to consult with an experienced DUI attorney to help you navigate the court process and build a strong defense. At MacDonald Law Office, LLC, we understand the complexities of DUI cases and are committed to providing our clients with the best possible representation. Contact us today for a consultation and let us help you protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome in your case.