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First Time DUI Charges in Howard County

DUI charges, regardless of number of offense, are always serious. They can potentially bring long-term repercussions on one’s record and driver’s license. Below, a Howard County DUI lawyer discusses what first time DUI charges are like and how prosecutors, courts, and defense attorneys handle these types of cases. To learn more specifics about first time DUI charges in Howard County, call today and schedule a consultation.

Where First Time DUI Charges in Howard County Are Heard

Howard County has one District Court in Ellicott City, the location for all DUI hearings for first offense DUI charges. With just one District Court in Howard County, there is only one single location for DUI hearings. A person who has a first time DUI charge and their attorney will get a letter in the mail with the date, and time of their hearing. As the date gets closer, the attorney may also know the courtroom where the hearing will be held.

How Prosecutors Handle First Time DUI Charges

Prosecutors vigorously handle first time DUI charges. The state has always prosecuted them to the fullest extent that they can. First time offenders with no priors and good history are sometimes given the benefit of probation before judgment to prove that they shouldn’t be incarcerated.

The State Attorney’s office is very quick to point out that this is a shared roadway with the general public and someone under the influence puts the greater public at risk. They put property around the roadways at risk. The individual even puts themselves at risk. The State Attorney’s office takes DUI charges very seriously.

How Courts Treat First Time DUI Charges

There is a reasonable amount of leniency with a first time DUI charge. There is the possibility of probation before judgment for first time offense. The opportunity for leniency increases if there was no accident, if no one was injured, and if there was nothing outrageous about the DUI itself.

Penalties For First Time DUI

The first time DUI maximum penalty is one year in jail and a $1000 fine. If a person is charged with Driving While Impaired, it is 60 days and a $500 fine. Generally both are charged together. There is no true diversion program for a first time offender. However, probation before judgment may be offered for a first time offense, under the right circumstances.

Building a Defense For Howard County First Time DUI Charge

The defense for a first time DUI charge is developed through several things. The first is the reason the officer stopped the vehicle. What probable cause was there to stop the car? Was the person speeding, or weaving in and out of lanes? In addition to the probable cause, the first contact the officer had with the driver is examined. The officer makes observations at the time of the stop. The defense attorney wants to see what they are, how they are written, what Standard Field Sobriety Tests were conducted, and if the facts constitute reasonable grounds to allow the officer to take an individual into custody and ask for a breath or a blood test.

Evidence Used to Build a Defense

The evidence gathered for a defense begins with the initial contact by the officer. Why did the officer stop this vehicle? Was there a good cause to stop the vehicle? If so, the attorney looks at the statements made by the officer while approaching the vehicle. Did the officer indicate that there was an overwhelming odor of alcohol or light odor of alcohol upon approaching the vehicle? What was the officer’s initial context? Did the driver have bloodshot, watery eyes? Were they able to take their license out of their wallet? The officers observe cognitive and physical functions.

If there is some reason from the odor or the driver’s interactions, the driver is asked to step out of the vehicle and perform Standard Field Sobriety Tests. Were the tests done correctly? Was the person given proper instructions? Did the officer demonstrate these tests properly? There are very specific things that an officer must do when conducting each Standard Field Sobriety Test.

To present evidence to a judge, the attorney demonstrates that the officer, in some cases, did not instruct properly and did not administer a test properly. Therefore, that specific test and the results of the test should be suppressed because of the officer’s mistakes.