A DUI conviction occurs when someone is found guilty of driving under the influence of controlled substances or alcoholic beverages. First-time drunk driving is considered a misdemeanor criminal charge under Maryland laws.
DUI laws can be confusing. As such, you may have questions about when and why you might be charged with a DUI. Here are a few things you should know.
1. When can the police pull you over?
The police may have justification to perform a traffic stop after they establish reasonable suspicion to believe that you are breaking the law. Reasonable suspicion is the estimation that a crime has been committed, is being committed or will be committed. For example, if the police notice that a driver is swerving or had just recently left a bar before entering the driver’s seat of a vehicle, they may have enough reasonable suspicion to lawfully justify a traffic stop.
2. What is a field sobriety test?
During a traffic stop, the police will likely have the driver complete a sobriety test. A field sobriety test may involve engaging in physical activities. A driver who performs these physical activities may give the police enough justification to charge them with a DUI.
3. What is a breathalyzer?
Alternatively, the police may have the driver take a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer, or breath test, is a small device that resembles a hand radio. A breath test can evaluate how much alcohol is in someone’s body by using chemicals. The reading that this test produces is referred to as someone’s blood alcohol content (BAC). If a driver’s BAC levels reach 0.08% or higher, then they may be charged with a DUI. Their illegal BAC may be lower if they are under the age of 21 or are driving a commercial vehicle at the time of their stop.
4. Can you refuse a sobriety test?
Many people understandably wonder if they can refuse a field sobriety test or breathalyzer. While people can refuse a field sobriety test without incurring consequences, refusing a breath or blood alcohol test can lead to repercussions. Drivers must follow implied consent laws which state that people who refuse a BAC test will automatically have their license suspended and face other penalties.
5. What happens if you’re charged with a DUI?
A DUI charge can lead to a stain on a driver’s permanent record, for starters. Additionally, drivers may face a license suspension and could be incarcerated. People often have to seek legal help to better ensure that they can benefit from a strong defense against such charges.