Driving under the influence is serious business and the state of Maryland treats it as such. To help officers track down drunk drivers, sobriety checkpoints are sometimes used. Though they are not legal in all states, they are conducted legally in Maryland.
Before you encounter one of these checkpoints, you need to make sure that you understand your rights and how to approach them to minimize the stress of an already stressful situation.
What Happens at Sobriety Checkpoints?
When you go through a sobriety checkpoint, you will be asked to roll down your window, show your license, and provide your registration, just like when you get pulled over. The difference here is that police officers are specifically looking for signs of intoxication. If a police officer suspects that you are under the influence of a mind-altering substance, they will likely ask you to take a field sobriety test as well as a breathalyzer test to determine whether or not you are truly intoxicated.
What are Officers Looking for?
The idea of sobriety checkpoints is to discover and arrest inebriated or impaired drivers, so the officer will be looking for any signs that you’re intoxicated. Possible signs of impairment include: the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, flushed face, bloodshot eyes, and lack of coordination. If an officer suspects you’re under the influence they will then ask you to participate in a field sobriety test. These are the five most common tests:
- Stand on One Leg: done to check your balance
- Finger to nose: done to check your balance and concentration
- Nystagmus: done to check eye movement
- Walk and Turn: done to check your balance
- Counting and Reciting the Alphabet: checks for your concentration
You have the right to refuse to submit to these tests, but you could still be arrested.
Do You Have to Take the Breathalyzer Test?
The short answer is no, though there are a number of potential consequences that can go along with a refusal. You definitely have the right to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer, but it may not be advisable, as your license could be suspended immediately for up to a year. Additionally, police officers in Maryland have the right to arrest those who refuse on the spot.
The prosecution can use your refusal in court and can still get a DUI conviction using other evidence from the scene. Even if you don’t want to refuse the test, you should still have your Maryland DUI lawyer present before you take it. Maryland is one of the few states that allows you to have your attorney present while taking a chemical test. As long as your Maryland DUI lawyer can get there within two hours it will be allowed. It’s always best to have your lawyer present to ensure everything is done properly.
Work With an Experienced Maryland DUI Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a DUI or if you’re fearful you will be, don’t wait around, get into contact with an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer today. Albers & Associates has provided DUI attorney services to Marylanders for years, and he can help you to. Give us a call, and we’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
Will I Lose My License?
You might. Depending on the type of license you have and whether or not you are convicted, your license may be suspended or even revoked depending on the circumstances of your charges. However, even being charged with a DUI can result in the suspension of your license, which can affect your life substantially.
Will I Lose My Job?
It depends on your job. At the time of your arrest, the police officer will confiscate your license and provide you with a paper license that you can use until your MVA Hearing. However, for people who hold commercial driver’s licenses, also known as CDLs, this will not replace the license you need to do your job. So, until the charges are cleared, you will not be able to work. Getting on the phone with a lawyer as soon as humanly possible is essential for your continued employment.
Am I Going to Jail?
You might. If you are found guilty of a DUI, particularly if this is your second or third offense, you may face jail time. One possible outcome of DUI court proceedings, a Probation Before Judgment, can be sought. If you are able to secure a PBJ, you will be able to avoid going to jail.