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What To Expect in Court For a Prince George’s County DUI Charge

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI in Prince George’s County, it is important you educate yourself on the process, including recent trends in how these cases are handled. Below, a Prince George’s County DUI lawyer discusses some basics on how DUI cases are handled. For more information about how DUI charges in Prince George’s County are treated in court, call today and schedule a consultation.

Getting a Lawyer for a Prince George’s County Bond Hearing

Since the bond hearings happen at odd hours, it may be difficult to find a private practice lawyer who is available, but if you can find one then you are allowed a lawyer. Otherwise, if there is going to be a hearing on a bond in front of a commissioner and you want an attorney right away. Public defenders are experienced in these hearings and have the same law license and experience that we all have.

For this encounter you want to be as brief as possible and get through the process; you do not have to wait to get your private attorney on the phone. Utilize the resources that the State of Maryland has put in place and have the public defender talk to the same commissioner they have likely talked to a hundred times before in the course of their public defender practice, so that they can give the commissioner a reason to allow you to be released without a bond.

Where Prince George’s County DUI Cases Are Typically Heard

Typically Prince George’s County DUI cases are heard in the Hyattsville and Upper Marlboro Courts. Typically these are bench trials, meaning they are heard by a judge. However, if you want a jury trial then you can apply to transfer your case from District Court to the Circuit Court, where then you would have the option of a bench or a jury trial.

Typical Length of DUI Trials

Typically DUI trials are scheduled for approximately six to 10 weeks after the date of the incident. Most of the timing depends on the officer’s schedule and the court’s schedule. Hearing dates are set for dates when the officer’s schedule matches the availability of the District Court. If your case stays in District Court, your hearing will usually be scheduled within that six to 10 week window of time.

However, if you wish to transfer the case on your District Court hearing date, then it will likely be another six to 10 weeks before the hearing is scheduled in the Circuit Court. In general, resolution of a case can take anywhere from two to four months.

Trends in Prince George’s County DUI Cases

The most troubling trend is the law enforcement traffic stops are based on issues such as no tag lights, improper tag lights, dim tag lights,  not having a third brake light, and so on. Improper tag or brake lights seems to be the most common reason behind a majority of the DUI stops, and I personally believe that these are not just reasons to conduct a DUI stop. I believe it is not valid under the Transportation Articles, Maryland Law or the Constitution to rely on this type of stop as an immediate way to make contact with a vehicle.

Another trend is for law enforcement to use plate readers to find flags on your car’s registration or other related problems. Once the tag reader indicates a problem, officer are using that as an excuse to pull people over and check for DUI.

In fact, many times the officer is not even making visual identification of the driver, though that is generally required before stopping a vehicle. In other words, if the officer sees anything at all they stop the car. What they are supposed to do if the tag reader indicates a problem, is look at the MVA photo of the driver that owns the vehicle and visually check if that is the person driving the vehicle. This is because a tag problem is about the owner of the vehicle, not necessarily the driver. Of course, there are reasons why an officer might stop a vehicle even if it is being driven by someone other than the driver, but they still need to make a visual identification of the driver prior to the stop and they often are not doing it. Officers are pulling over people indiscriminately and charging them frequently and consistently with DUI charges.