5 Steps to Take During and After a DWI Arrest in Maryland

Being arrested for impaired driving is a grave matter in Maryland that can drastically affect one’s life and future. Getting a drunk driving defense lawyer involved early is crucial to appropriately protecting your rights and building the most robust case possible. This blog will provide a helpful step-by-step guide regarding what one should do after being arrested on suspicion of DWI in Maryland to be best prepared for criminal defense.

Law Offices of Marc A. Ominsky help clients navigate complex legal situations that could compromise their future interests. With experience in DUI/DWI defense, our team will work to resolve your disputes. Contact us now at 443-539-8712 or email us at info@mdlegalfirm.com to speak with our experienced team of drunk driving defense lawyers. 

Step 1: Remain Calm and Polite During the Traffic Stop 

The first step begins at the traffic stop itself. One must remain calm and polite when interacting with the police officer, even if they believe the stop was unwarranted. Being rude, aggressive, or non-compliant will only worsen the situation. 

Cooperate by providing one’s driver’s license, registration, and insurance when asked, but avoid admitting guilt or voluntarily sharing more information than legally required. Take mental notes about the timeline of events, specifics of field sobriety testing, and anything notable about the encounter that could aid your drunk driving defense lawyer later.

Step 2: Refuse Field Sobriety and Breathalyzer Testing

When a police officer requests that the driver perform gymnastic-like “field sobriety tests,” like standing on one leg or walking a straight line, one should respectfully decline and state they do not consent to any testing. The same goes for roadside breathalyzer testing devices, which are notoriously unreliable. 

Per Maryland law, declining such testing will result in enhanced penalties if later convicted, and in an automatic MVA license suspension, but cooperating runs the severe risk of providing faulty evidence that winds up sinking one’s drunk driving defense entirely. Let your drunk driving defense lawyer fight the test refusal charge in court and at an MVA hearing.

Step 3: Decide if Speaking to Police is the Right Move

After being handcuffed and arrested, the police will likely try to question the suspect about the traffic stop events and seek a confession about drunk driving. At this stage, one is in a difficult position and is already facing criminal charges. As hard as it may be, the best advice is to politely inform the officer that you wish to remain silent and want an attorney present for questioning. Anything one says can be used to undermine one's case down the road. Let the drunk driving defense lawyer do the talking.

Step 4: Gather Helpful Documentation

There are several essential documents one should aim to gather related to their DWI arrest, which may significantly help to dispute the drunk driving charges:

  • Police Report - This outlines the officer’s version of events regarding the traffic stop, field sobriety tests, and the basis for making the drunk driving arrest. Thoroughly reviewing this early allows one’s drunk driving defense lawyer to identify any inconsistencies, inaccuracies, or lack of probable cause.

  • Public Surveillance Footage - If the traffic stop or sobriety testing took place near any businesses or homes with external cameras, requesting a copy of the footage through one’s lawyer via subpoena can provide visual evidence to contradict the police’s reports potentially. 

  • Blood Testing Results - After making a DWI arrest, police often convince or pressure the driver into consenting to hospital blood testing to verify their blood alcohol level. Obtaining the official lab results with help from one’s drunk driving defense lawyer can be critical to refuting charges in court if contamination or errors are detected.

Step 5: Contact an Experienced Maryland DWI Defense Attorney Immediately  

The final and most critical step after a DWI arrest is to immediately reach out to a drunk driving defense lawyer in Maryland for help. An experienced DWI attorney can provide invaluable advice regarding preserving one’s legal rights and navigating the complex criminal justice system ahead. They will conduct their thorough investigation of the arrest, identify any procedural mistakes made by law enforcement, and handle communicating with prosecutors going forward. This gives those charged the most vital possibility of achieving a favorable legal outcome, such as reduced charges or case dismissal. 

Importance of Working With a Dedicated Drunk Driving Lawyer in Maryland

Retaining a drunk driving defense lawyer experienced in Maryland’s DUI and DWI laws as early as possible following an arrest can make all the difference in one’s ability to mitigate penalties or defeat allegations altogether. A DUI defense attorney focused explicitly on these complex cases will know how to obtain all documentation related to the incident, extensively weigh any possibilities for getting charges reduced or dismissed based on technicalities or lack of solid evidence, negotiate alternative pleas when viable, and competently build a defense case identifying any reasonable doubt surrounding one’s guilt. 

Overview of Typical Penalties for First DWI Offense in Maryland

The baseline or “standard” legal consequences imposed for a first-time misdemeanor Driving While Impaired (DWI) offense upon conviction in Maryland include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail

  • Fines up to $1,000 

  • Up to 12 points assessed against the driver’s license

  • Mandatory alcohol education programs 

Beyond the above, more severe specialized sanctions will also result from a guilty verdict or plea deal, notably:

  • License suspension for at least six months

  • Ignition Interlock device mandate for six months (or one year if BAC was .15+ when arrested)

  • SR-22 high-risk insurance required for three years typically

Damage to one’s long-term finances, career, and criminal background is also inevitable. These represent very harsh penalties relative to most other misdemeanors. The services of an accomplished drunk driving defense lawyer are necessary to confront the allegations.

Why Breathalyzers and Field Sobriety Tests Are Unreliable for DWI Evidence 

While machines like roadside breathalyzers, which estimate a DWI suspect’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or physiological field sobriety tests of balance and coordination may sound scientifically concrete in theory, your drunk driving defense lawyer can explain why both tend to yield inaccurate and outright misleading data in practice:

  • Susceptibility of Breathalyzers to False Positives- These devices can generate falsely high BAC readings through no fault of the test subject when factors like medical conditions, dietary quirks, or average body chemistry influence results.

  • Lack of Standardization in Sobriety Testing- Unlike with certified medical devices, there are no universal standards governing how police administer field sobriety tests. Slight variations in how instructions are relayed or the testing environment can radically alter outcomes.

  • No Measurement of Actual Impairment- Blood alcohol concentration alone does not necessarily prove one’s ability to drive safely was truly impaired, as tolerance levels vary significantly between individuals. 

In many drunk, while impaired cases, successfully disputing the validity of breath and field test evidence is vital to one’s defense, more so than the actual BAC reading itself. Retaining legal representation from a skilled drunk-driving defense lawyer who is well-versed in systematically scrutinizing these procedures and results while raising reasonable doubt is critical.

Why It’s Critical to Decline Field Sobriety Testing During a Traffic Stop

When pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, a police officer will likely request that the driver exit their car and perform awkward routines referred to obscurely as “standardized field sobriety tests” - including the classic like standing on one foot, walking toe-to-heel in a straight line, or following a pen with your eyes. Respectfully declining to engage and insisting you do not consent to testing is the wisest choice.

The reasoning boils down to field sobriety tests like these rigged gymnastics posing substantial self-incrimination risks while offering virtually no upside. Test results demonstrating balance or coordination issues can only be used by prosecutors to bolster their drunk driving case against you. Even stone-cold sober individuals commonly struggle with portions of these elaborate routines due to natural nervousness, physical limitations, footwear, weather, and other factors entirely separate from alcohol impairment. 

Let your drunk driving defense lawyer handle attacking the officer’s purely subjective interpretation of your sobriety based on these gimmicky exercises. Decline the tests.


Why Time is of the Essence to Contact a Drunk Driving Lawyer

In the chaotic aftermath following a DWI arrest, delaying the engagement of legal help is one of the worst mistakes a suspect can make when so much is at stake. While indeed a tough pill to swallow emotionally and financially immediately, moving swiftly to get an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer and investigator on the case can pay huge dividends.

This is because critical evidence and testimony establishing facts and timelines surrounding the traffic stop tend to fade quickly as days and weeks pass after being detained for drunk driving. Any security camera footage capturing the incident often gets recorded. And the more time that goes by before sobering up and regaining clear recollection, the less credible one’s accounts will sound.

Additionally, certain administrative license suspension hearings, which a skilled lawyer may be able to defeat, only have a 10-day window to request. Contact top drunk driving defense lawyers serving Maryland, like the Law Offices of Marc A. Ominsky, urgently following a DWI arrest for the most excellent chances at the best outcome. 


Evaluating the Legality of the Initial DWI Traffic Stop

Allegations of impaired driving often quickly shift focus onto determining precise blood alcohol concentrations and interpreting failed sobriety test results. But your drunk driving defense lawyer will evaluate circumstances surrounding the initial traffic stop itself that prompted police intervention in the first place.

If the evidence demonstrates persuasively that no legitimate grounds or probable cause existed to warrant pulling over your vehicle, to begin with, your entire DWI case could get thrown out on this premise before even reaching the blood alcohol debate. However, recognizing Fourth Amendment violations related to search and seizure rules amid nuanced traffic laws requires seasoned legal experience. Fight back.

Plea Bargaining Options if Conviction Seems Unavoidable

While every drunk driving defense lawyer indeed fights aggressively to defeat allegations leveled at their clients outright, the practical reality is that securing a complete acquittal at trial is very rare in these already stacked cases. More frequently, by leveraging their experience in the courts and law, lawyers can negotiate satisfactory plea bargain deals resulting in reduced charges, lighter sentencing, or supplemental steps potentially leading to expungement.

If up against damning evidence in your DWI case, be open-minded to consider compromise scenarios your lawyer presents, possibly involving admitting guilt to lesser traffic offenses, participating in counseling programs, or submitting to probationary monitoring periods in exchange for impaired drivingcharges getting dropped. If the prosecutors and judge seem unwilling to budge, much harsher consequences can usually be avoided by showing willingness to play ball.

Frequently Asked Questions About DWI Arrests in Maryland

  1. Should I Admit Guilt Or Try Talking My Way Out Of A DWI At The Scene?

No. Once police decide to make an impaired driving arrest, attempts to change their mind on the scene will not help. Be polite, decline any testing, and wait to work on your defense with legal counsel present.

  1. Can My License Be Suspended After A DWI Arrest?

Yes. Maryland participates in the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) program, which enables the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to immediately suspend the license of a driver arrested on suspicion of DWI for 45 days if they refuse testing or 90 days if testing shows an alcohol level above .08 BAC.  

  1. What Factors Can Enhance Penalties For A DWI Conviction?

Several circumstances can mean harsher consequences if ultimately found guilty. These include prior DUIs on record, a traffic accident taking place, excessive speeding, transporting a minor while driving impaired, and having a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or more.

  1. Is Impaired Driving Felony Or Misdemeanor In Maryland?

A first-time DUI or DWI arrest is typically classified as a misdemeanor offense. However, accumulating multiple convictions, getting charged with vehicular homicide related to drunk driving, or having a minor in the vehicle can all lead to more felony-level severe charges.

  1. What Case Strategies Do DWI Lawyers Commonly Use?

Seasoned impaired driving defense lawyers have many tactics they may deploy to dispute charges, such as challenging the legality of the original traffic stop, scrutinizing the accuracy of breathalyzer devices used, questioning the officer’s sobriety testing procedures, and presenting proof to show alcohol was consumed only after driving.

Work With DWI Defense Attorneys at the Law Offices of Marc A. Ominsky

Dealing with a DWI charge in Maryland is extremely challenging, but properly following critical steps from the moment police stop one through when legal proceedings commence can optimize the odds for the best resolution. An experienced impaired driving defense lawyer must guide you through the complex process while building a customized defense. Don’t hesitate to exercise your rights and contact dedicated legal help immediately after an arrest for DWI.

Law Offices Of Marc A. Ominsky has helped individuals navigate their defense in DWI/DUI incidents in Maryland. Contact us now at 443-539-8712 or email us at info@mdlegalfirm.com to speak with our experienced team of defense attorneys.