DUI Your Friends That Defend

Howard County DUI Lawyer

Fighting Drunk Driving Charges in Columbia, MD

Drunk driving charges in Maryland are serious. If you are accused and convicted of either driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or driving while impaired by alcohol (DWI), you could face harsh penalties. Even a first offense can lead to jail time, a steep fine, and a loss of driving privileges. Upon a second or subsequent violation, the penalties increase and may include a mandatory term of incarceration. Additionally, completing your sentence does not necessarily mean that you will be relieved of the adverse consequences of a drunk driving conviction. You will also have a criminal record following you around, which could close doors to various opportunities.

What Can a DUI Lawyer Do For You?

If you are facing charges of driving under the influence (DUI), a DUI lawyer can be an invaluable asset in protecting your rights and helping you navigate the complex legal system. They can provide expert legal guidance and support throughout the entire process, from the initial arrest to the final disposition of your case. A skilled DUI lawyer can review the evidence against you and identify any weaknesses in the prosecution's case. They can also negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss the charges against you. If your case goes to trial, a DUI lawyer can represent you and present a strong defense.

Additionally, a DUI lawyer can advise you on your legal rights and options and help you understand the potential consequences of a conviction. Ultimately, a DUI lawyer can provide you with the legal representation you need to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome in your case. A lot is at stake in a Maryland drunk driving case. That is why you must contact our skilled Howard County DUI attorneys at Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake as soon as possible.

As one of the few law firms named a Tier 1 DUI/DWI defense firm by U.S. News & World Reports, our Howard County DUI lawyers are uniquely suited to seek the best possible outcome for you. Schedule a free consultation by calling (410) 927-5137 or submitting an online contact form today.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and DWI in Maryland?

Under Maryland’s drunk driving statute (Md. Transportation Code § 21-902), a person operating a vehicle while under the influence of or while impaired by alcohol can be charged with either a DUI or DWI. What distinguishes the two is the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the offense or the severity of their impairment.

  • In a DUI case, the accused must have either had a BAC of .08 or higher or their normal faculties must have been substantially altered because of the consumption of alcohol.
  • With a DWI, a person may be charged if their ability to safely operate their vehicle was in some way affected by their consumption of alcohol. Additionally, the driver need not have had a BAC at or above the legal limit. If their level was .07 or more but less than .08, they might still be accused or convicted of this offense.

What are the Penalties for a DUI in Maryland?

The punishments a court can impose for a DUI conviction are tied to the defendant’s criminal history.

For a first-time DUI, the penalties include:

  • Up to 1 year of incarceration
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 6 months’ driver’s license revocation
  • 12 points assessed to the driving record

For a second-time DUI, the penalties include:

  • Up to 2 years’ incarceration
  • 5-day mandatory minimum imprisonment term
  • Up to $2,000 in fines
  • Up to 1 year of driver’s license revocation
  • 12 points assessed to the driving record
  • Undergoing an alcohol abuse assessment
  • Completion of an alcohol program

What are the Penalties for a Maryland DWI?

As with a DUI, the punishments for a DWI depend on whether or not the driver has any previous drunk driving convictions.

A first offense is penalized by:

  • Up to 2 months’ imprisonment
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 6 months’ driver’s license suspension
  • 8 points assessed to the driving record

A second offense is penalized by:

  • Up to 1 year of imprisonment
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 12 months’ driver’s license suspension
  • 8 points assessed to the driving record

Maryland DUI Administrative Hearings

At the time of a DUI or DWI arrest in MD, the officer will direct the driver to submit to a chemical test to determine BAC. If the driver refuses or fails (BAC of .08 or higher), the officer will immediately take their driver’s license and issue an Order of Suspension. The notice serves as a temporary driving permit valid for only 45 days.

To challenge the suspension of their driving privileges, the driver must request a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) within 10 to 30 days of receiving the Order of Suspension. The hearing is separate from the criminal case and is not concerned with whether the driver is guilty of drunk driving. Instead, its focus is on whether or not the driver’s license should be suspended.

Administrative driver’s license suspension periods are as follows:

  • BAC between .08 and .14:
    • First or subsequent offense: 180-day suspension
  • BAC of .15 or more:
    • First or subsequent offense: 180-day suspension
  • Test refusal:
    • First offense: 270-day suspension
    • Second or subsequent offense: 2-year suspension
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle:
    • First offense: 1-year CDL disqualification
    • Second or subsequent offense: Lifetime CDL disqualification

Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program

Maryland offers an Ignition Interlock Program that allows those involved in DUI/DWI matters to maintain driving privileges. The driver must have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on any vehicle they operate.

An IID is a device that connects to a vehicle’s ignition. The driver must blow into the IID before they can start their car. If they have a BAC of .025 or higher, the vehicle will not start. Throughout their drive, they will be prompted at random times to provide another breath sample.

A person can participate in the Ignition Interlock Program in two ways.

  • The first is by opting in after their driver’s license has been taken for a chemical test refusal or failure. In this situation, they do not have to request a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings to contest driver’s license suspension. Additionally, they would not have to serve the administrative suspension period.
  • The second way to enter the Ignition Interlock Program is through a court order after a DUI or DWI conviction.

Whether the driver opts in or is ordered to participate in the program, they must have an authorized provider install an IID in their vehicle. They must also adhere to all requirements. If they violate the conditions, they will be subject to the full driver’s license suspension period.

Can MD Drunk Driving Charges Be Beat?

As with any other criminal offense, anyone accused of driving under the influence or driving while impaired is considered innocent unless proven otherwise. Thus, defenses can be raised to challenge the accusations.

Potential defenses in DUI/DWI cases include, but are not limited to:

  • Unlawful stop: An officer must have had probable cause to pull a driver over, meaning they must have observed the driver violating or attempting to violate the law. If they made the stop based on a hunch, it may be deemed unlawful and collected evidence may be inadmissible in court.
  • Improper procedures: Just as with the DUI stop itself, every step in the arrest process must be done according to proper and lawful procedures. For instance, the officer must read the driver their rights and provide them with a specific form before administering a chemical test. An officer failing to adhere to their legal responsibilities could be raised as a defense.
  • Improperly maintained or calibrated machines: In a DUI case, the driver may be subject to a chemical test to determine their BAC level. If the testing machines are not maintained and calibrated as necessary, they could return skewed results, making it appear as if the driver was at or above the legal limit even though they weren’t.

At Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake, our team has successfully handled cases of varying complexities. Our Howard County DUI attorneys know the methods to use to fight charges.

DUI Lawyers in Maryland

At Shapiro Zwanetz & Lake, our DUI lawyers in Maryland can provide the legal representation you need for your drunk driving matter. Our Howard County DUI lawyers provide focused and tenacious defense and will be your zealous advocate throughout your case.

If you were charged with a Howard County DUI, now is the time to retain legal representation from a Maryland DUI lawyer. Call us at (410) 927-5137 or contact us online.

We proudly serve those facing charges in Howard County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Frederick County, and Queen Anne’s County.

Why Are We the Right Choice?

Reasons to Choose Our Firm
  • We approach every case as a team.
  • Every initial consultation is free and no-obligation.
  • We are available for you 24/7.
  • We are a team of former prosecutors and know how the other side thinks.
  • We have in-house payment plan options on qualifying cases.
  • We are highly recommended and awarded by various associations.

A High-Quality Reputation

Read Reviews from Real People
  • “I never hesitate to refer any potential clients with criminal defense needs to Justin Lake or David Zwanetz”

    - Joe M.
  • “Easy to work with”

    - Zach S.
  • “From my 8-month experience, Mr. Justin Lake is a great lawyer with ethics and morals. Even more a good man in a time there seems ...”

    - L.W.
This Isn't a "Paycheck" - This Is Our Calling

At Shapiro, Zwanetz & Associates (SZA) we believe in thinking differently from most lawyers and law firms. We help our clients understand and accept their legal situation; we work with them to confront and improve that situation, while seeking the best outcome available at law. We recognize that each client is a unique individual, each deserving of the highest client/customer service; and we just happen to get our clients excellent results while we deliver that exceptional service.