Don’t let a DUI ruin your future! There are a number of time sensitive things in Maryland DUI cases that one must be aware of – Call NOW to set up a FREE consultation.
An arrest, and subsequent criminal charge, for a DUI or DWI, carries with it exposure to a host of potential punishments; the most serious charge, carries a maximum penalty of three (3) years incarceration and/or a $3000.00 fine. Additionally, if charged with a Maryland DUI or DWI, one can lose his or her privilege to drive for up to one (1) year or more regardless of guilt or innocence. It is CRITICAL, after a DUI arrest and charge, for defendants to be informed of Maryland Vehicular laws and take action immediately. As a result of focused practice in the concentrated area of Maryland/Howard County DUI and Maryland/Howard County Criminal Law, the attorneys at Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates (SZA) impart significant experience and proven results in defending their clients’ charges in Maryland and Howard County’s Criminal and Civil Courts. CALL US NOW and get the info you need to return to normalcy.
DUI / DWI Information and Articles
What is Driving?
As a Howard County DUI lawyers we have handled countless cases where people have attempted to use their vehicles to sleep off a night of drinking, and found themselves charged with DUI/DWI. It is of paramount importance to understand that “driving” for purposes of DUI law does not mean “driving” in the classic sense of the word. “Driving,” for legal purposes, is being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. In this definition, the Maryland Legislature intended to differentiate between those inebriated people who represent no threat to the public because they are only using their vehicles as shelters, and those people who represent an imminent threat to the public by reason of their control of the vehicle. The benchmark Maryland case of Atkinson v. State, 331 Md. 199 (1992), describes six factors for Judges/Juries to consider when determining of one is in “actual physical control” of a vehicle:
- Whether or not the engine is running or the ignition is on (strongest factor)
- Whether and in what position the person is found in the vehicle
- Whether the person is awake or asleep
- Where the vehicle’s ignition key is located
- Where the vehicle’s headlights are on
- Whether the vehicle is located in the roadway or is legally parked
Thus, it is clear from the factors above, that one can be charged and convicted of DUI/DWI in Maryland without ever actually moving his or her vehicle. Getting into a cars driver’s seat, turning on the engine for heat, and falling asleep while drunk technically, legally, exposes one to a charge of driving under the influence or driving while impaired by alcohol. The only sure way to avoid a DUI charge in Maryland, or any state, is to never get behind the wheel of your vehicle, even if you don’t plan to move it, with any alcohol in your system. And if you plan to sleep things off in your vehicle, you should make sure your car is off and you’re somewhere other than the drivers seat.
Counseling Is Imperative!
Any defendant facing charges for a Howard County DUI must take steps prior to appearing in the District or Circuit Court to get evaluated by a Maryland Certified Alcohol Treatment Center. Most first time DUI offenders will be considered for a probation before judgment disposition, which serves to strike a guilty finding. However, the Judge’s and State’s Attorney’s decision making process will surely focus on the Defendant’s actions post charge and pre-sentence. Getting involved in counseling voluntarily and contemporaneously with the date of offense is one major step in the right direction to a lenient disposition.
There are private organizations such as the Columbia Addictions Center, located at 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 205, Columbia, Maryland, who will take swift action to properly evaluate and treat any alcohol or drug related issue. All Maryland treatment providers begin with an initial evaluation where standardized tests are given to place one in an abuse category. The categories typically run from “social drinker” to “addict,” and based on the level or risk the provider will make a recommended course of treatment. Generally a “social drinker” will be recommended to complete twelve hours of alcohol education while an “addict” can be requested to participate in open ended counseling. Patients of any Maryland alcohol treatment provider can expect to be requested to submit to random urinalysis and to participate in both group and individual counseling. Most treatment is done on weekly basis in an outpatient capacity. At times, however, an evaluation can revel a problem so grave that inpatient treatment is recommended. Costs can range from $450.00 (for outpatient) – $3000.00 or more (for inpatient).
Understandably, some cannot afford a premium private counseling center. For those individuals, the Howard County Health Department’s Substance Abuse Service is a great option. The Howard Health Department is the only publicly funded addictions, prevention and treatment program in Howard County that treats patients regardless of ability to pay. Fees for treatment at the Health Department are based on a sliding scale and the only requirement is residency in Howard County. For non Howard County residence, each county in Maryland runs a similar service. If charged with and DUI in Howard County along with finding the right legal counsel, counseling should be a top priority.
Contact Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates Now for a FREE Consultation