Friday, February 24, 2017

Can You Get a DUI for Just Sitting in Your Car Drunk in Maryland?

Believe it or not, you CAN be charged with DUI in Maryland if you are found sitting in your car while intoxicated. While this may sound counter-intuitive, everything hinges on the statutory language, "actual physical control." In Maryland, according to the statute, a person can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) for driving or attempting to drive intoxicated, which includes simply being in "actual physical control" of the vehicle.

Now, you may be wondering, what does "actual physical control" of the vehicle mean. In deciding whether someone is in "actual physical control," the Court will consider whether the engine is running, whether you are in the driver's seat, whether you are asleep or awake, where the ignition key is located, whether the headlights are on, and whether you are in a roadway or legally parked. So, for example, if you are found by police just sitting in the driver's seat of your car, with the keys in the ignition, Courts have found that that constitutes "actual physical control" of a vehicle and a person can be found guilty of a DUI.

If you've been charged with DUI in Maryland, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Portner & Shure today for a free consultation: (301) 854-9000, (410) 995-1515.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Open Container Law in Maryland: Does it Apply to Passengers in Vehicles?

Many of us are probably aware of open container laws in Maryland. I think we all generally know that it is illegal to have open containers of alcohol outside on the street in public. However, many people probably do not know that it is also illegal to have open containers in vehicles, regardless of whether you are driver, front seat passenger, or back seat passenger. An occupant of a motor vehicle may NOT possess an open container that contains any amount of an alcoholic beverage.

If you are in a vehicle and stopped by police and the officer sees that you have an open bottle of beer or wine, or even just a plastic cup filled with an alcoholic beverage, they will give you a citation for violating Maryland's open container law. This type of attention from police officers will often lead to suspicions of drunk driving and could result in a DUI charge for the driver if any alcohol is detected on them.

There are obvious exceptions to the open container law for special vehicles, such as buses, taxis, limousines, and RVs.

Just remember to never drink and drive and never have open containers of alcohol anywhere in your vehicle. If you are charged with an alcohol-related offense in Maryland, call Portner & Shure for a free consultation: (301) 854-9000, (410) 995-1515.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Three Things to Know if You Are Charged with DUI in Frederick

If you are charged with DUI in Frederick, Maryland, here are three things to remember:

  1. If it is your first offense for driving under the influence, the first thing to take care of is your driver's license. When you are arrested for a DUI in Maryland, the police officer will confiscate your license (unless it is an out-of-state license) and give you a temporary paper license that is only valid for 45 days. 
  2. If you were offered the breathalyzer test, but refused, OR you took the test and blew over 0.15, you are limited to just TWO options. For a refusal, you may elect to take the suspension for 270 days OR elect to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for one year. For a result over 0.15, you may elect to take the suspension for 180 days OR elect to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for one year. HOWEVER, if you took the breath test and your results were under 0.15, you may elect either of the two options above (180 day suspension), or request a MVA hearing to get a restricted license. A restricted license allows to continue to driving past the 45 day period, but you are limited to driving to/from work or school.
  3. When it is time for court, assuming this is your first DUI, there was no contributing accident, you completed alcohol treatment prior to trial, and your breath test results were under 0.15, a probation before judgment (PBJ) is a likely outcome. A PBJ means that there will be no conviction on your record.
If you've been arrested for DUI in Frederick, call the Top-10 DUI lawyers at Portner & Shure for a free consultation today: (301) 854-9000, (410), 995-1515.

Monday, February 6, 2017

What does it mean to have a bench warrant in Maryland?

A common question we receive from potential clients is: "What is a bench warrant and what do I have to do to make it go away?"

In Maryland, you are made aware of the fact that you have an active bench warrant, that means that the police can arrest you on sight if they stop you and run your name in their system to see that you have an active warrant for your arrest. The most common reason that a bench warrant is issued by a judge is because a defendant has missed a required appearance in court. If you have a court date scheduled for a certain day and you do not appear, as soon as the judge calls your case and sees that you are not present, he/she will sign a bench warrant. This action then enters your name in the sheriff's database for all police officers to see. Therefore, if you are stopped by police for any reason and they run your name in their system, they will automatically see the active warrant and will arrest you. Many people think they can stay out of trouble with the police and choose to risk being arrested by doing nothing about their warrant. We do not recommend that, especially as police officers continue to use more advanced technology, such as the license plate readers that allow officers to scan hundreds of license plates in a minute.

If you have missed a court date and have an active bench warrant, don't just ignore it and risk being arrested. Make sure you hire an attorney as soon as possible and they can draft a motion to quash the warrant to help get you a new court date so that you can resolve your matter in court.

If you have an active arrest warrant in Maryland, call Portner & Shure for a free consultation and let us quash that warrant and help you resolve your matter and put it behind you. (301) 854-9000, (410) 995-1515