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DUI/DWI Defense Attorneys in Maryland, Virginia & Washington, D.C.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with Driving under the Influence

Driving under the influence isn’t simply a traffic ticket—it’s a serious crime. A criminal conviction for DUI can change your life forever. You could lose your privilege to operate a vehicle or lose your job or your freedom. Every time you get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you risk jail time, fines, and the tragic possibility of inflicting injury or death on those around you.

If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Contact Portner & Shure, P.A. today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C. DUI/DWI lawyer. Don’t let language be a concern; we proudly include Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese Chinese speaking paralegals among our knowledgeable staff. We help clients facing DUI/DWI charges in Northern Virginia, Richmond, Baltimore, and counties throughout Maryland.

Contact us online or call (855) 954-4141 today to request your free and confidential consultation.

What Constitutes a DUI or DWI in Maryland and Virginia?

All 50 states have set the legal limit for driving under the influence at .08% blood alcohol content (BAC) level (with the exception of Utah, which sets the limit at .05% BAC). In light of this, it’s important to realize that even if you don’t feel the effects of alcohol, your BAC could still surpass the legal BAC limit; everyone’s body and alcohol tolerance is different.

In Virginia, there is no substantive legal difference between driving under the influence and driving while impaired (DWI); both terms refer to a BAC level of .08% or higher. In Maryland, however, a BAC level between .07% and .08% constitutes a DWI. This is essentially a less serious form of a DUI charge. Still, a Maryland driver can be considered to be driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs with an even lower BAC level. Being accused of driving while impaired by a controlled substance is considered a serious criminal offense, and the stakes are much higher.

A DUI can inflict far-reaching consequences, including:

  • License revocation or suspension
  • Fines
  • Jail
  • Bail
  • Home detention
  • Community service
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol classes
  • Ignition interlock device
  • Court costs and fees
  • Civil prosecution for property damages
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Inability to acquire auto insurance

DUI Penalties in Maryland

If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense in Maryland, you could face the following penalties:

  • First offense:
    • Up to one year in jail
    • Up to $1,000 fine
    • Minimum six-month suspension of driver’s license
  • Second offense:
    • Up to two years in jail
    • Up to $2,000 fine
    • One-year suspension of driver’s license

DWI Penalties in Maryland

While the penalties for a Maryland DWI are not as severe as the penalties for having a BAC over .08%, there are still serious consequences:

  • First offense:
    • Up to sixty days in jail
    • Up to $500 fine
    • Minimum six-month suspension of driver’s license
  • Second offense:
    • Up to one year in jail
    • Up to $500 fine
    • One-year suspension of driver’s license

DUI/DWI Penalties in Virginia

A DUI is categorized as a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia.

The penalties for a DUI or DWI conviction in Virginia include:

  • First offense:
    • Maximum fine of $2,500 ($250 minimum)
    • Up to 1 year in jail
    • Driver’s license suspension of up to 1 year (the judge can grant restricted driving privileges so that you can get to and from work)
    • Alcohol education program
  • Second offense:
    • Minimum $500 fine
    • Up to 1 year in jail
    • Driver’s license revocation for three years
    • An ignition interlock device

Penalties increase if you were arrested with a BAC level of 0.15 % or higher.

Implied Consent in Maryland and Virginia

In one form or another, every state, including Maryland and Virginia, has some kind of implied-consent law. This law essentially means that when you are issued a driver’s license, you consent automatically to a breath, blood, or urine test if you are ever stopped by a police officer who suspects you of driving while under the influence.

If you refuse to allow police officers to test for drugs or alcohol, the state’s implied consent law goes into effect, and stiff additional penalties are automatically assigned.

Penalties for refusing to participate in a test in Maryland:

  • 120-day license suspension (first offense)
  • One-year license suspension (second offense)

Penalties for refusing to take a test in Virginia:

  • One-year license suspension (first offense)
  • Three-year license suspension (second offense)

It usually does not help you or your case to refuse a blood or breath test when you are arrested. Refusing the test does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted of a drunk driving charge. In fact, your refusal could be used against you by the prosecution even if the state does not have any proof that your BAC was over the legal limit.

If, in the confusion of the moment, you do refuse to take a BAC test, all is not lost. Portner & Shure, P.A. has considerable experience helping Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. drivers who have refused to take a chemical test after being pulled over. We can help you fight the strict penalties imposed by implied consent laws.

Breathalyzer Tests in Virginia & Maryland

A breathalyzer does not measure your blood alcohol content; it merely estimates what the blood reading would likely be based on the amount of alcohol on your breath.

The conditions under which a breathalyzer is administered can drastically affect the results of the test. Studies have shown that your breathing pattern, for example, can significantly influence the reading. Hyperventilation can decrease results up to 10 percent. Conversely, holding your breath prior to the test can increase your results by as much as 15 percent.

The measured amount of alcohol on your breath can vary greatly as you change from exhalation to inhalation, and vice versa. Readings will register much higher if they are taken at the end of a breath, rather than at the beginning.

Failure to properly maintain a breathalyzer can cause a false reading. Breathalyzers must be calibrated to account for shifts in temperature, both of the person taking the test and the surrounding environment.

Field Sobriety Tests in Maryland & Virginia

Once you’ve been pulled over under suspicion of a DUI or DWI, police officers will likely ask you to participate in a number of field sobriety tests. There are three of these tests which have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),

The approved filed sobriety tests are:

  • The one-leg stand test: The officer will direct you to stand on one leg, raise your other leg six-inches off the ground and count to 30. The police officer will check for possible signs of inebriation, such as an inability to count properly, a struggle to keep balance, or starting too early.
  • The walk-and-turn test: You will be instructed to walk nine steps in a straight line, touching heel to toe, swivel on your heels, then walk nine steps in the same manner in the opposite direction. During this test, you will be evaluated on your ability to maintain balance, walk the appropriate number of steps, and whether your toe actually touches your heel.
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test: This is intended to expose involuntary jerking of the eye as you track an object, usually a pen or finger, horizontally from side to side.

Field sobriety tests can be politely refused. They are completely voluntary and there is no legal penalty for refusing to partake in one. It is important to realize that these tests are highly flawed, subjective, and inaccurate. They are designed to build a case against you at a time when you are anxious and vulnerable.

Top-Rated Legal Counsel on Your Side

The Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. DUI and DWI attorneys at Portner & Shure, P.A. have decades of experience defending clients accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Our depth of talent and breadth of resources can ensure your case is investigated thoroughly and defended vigorously.

Mistakes involving breath tests, field sobriety tests, or other parts of the process are often made by arresting officers to your detriment. These errors can be effectively challenged in court.

Based on any errors made during your arrest, we will always seek out ways to have certain pieces of evidence declared inadmissible or have your case dismissed outright. If no errors were made, we will aggressively fight for your best possible outcome by working to minimize the penalties levied against you.

We understand that English is not the first language for many of our clients who face a DUI or DWI charge. Our staff comprises paralegals who are fluent in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese Chinese.

Contact Our Nationally-Recognized DUI Attorneys Today

The consequences of a DUI conviction can affect you and your family for years to come. You shouldn’t settle for anything less than the highest quality of legal representation to ensure your rights are protected during this difficult time.

If you are facing a DUI or DWI charge in Richmond, Northern Virginia, Baltimore, Maryland counties, or Washington, D.C., the nationally-recognized lawyers at Portner & Shure, P.A. can provide you with the trusted, proven legal counsel you need.

Contact us today by completing the online contact form or by calling us at (855) 954-4141.

What Our Clients Have to Say

  • Thank you for all your unwavering hard work and dedication to my case. -R.D. (Case #216634)
  • I felt comfortable knowing that Portner & Shure took my workers' comp case seriously and I got a great settlement offer. -J.G.P. (Case #214814)
  • Because of them, I was able to pay all my medical expenses and I am very satisfied with my settlement amount. -M.A.H. (Case #214504)
  • Outstanding client support and clean communication. -C.R. (Case #215827)
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