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Know what to do if you face drunk driving charges in Maryland

Recently, an SUV crashed through the front window of a fast food restaurant in Lanham, Maryland. Five injured people were transported to the hospital. The driver was arrested immediately after the crash on suspicion of drunk driving. If you were the driver in this situation, would you know how to respond? Would you know what to say if an officer began asking you questions or wanted to administer a field sobriety or Breathalyzer test on you?

If you get into an accident or are stopped by the police and face the possibility of drunk driving charges, there are a few things you need to remember. The first is to make no admission of drinking. Additionally, though remaining calm and cooperative with the officer, do not agree to submit to a field sobriety test or a preliminary breath test. Ask, instead, to speak to an attorney.

According to Maryland's Court of Appeals, you have a constitutional right to speak to an attorney before you submit to roadside sobriety or police-administered Breathalyzer tests. The only circumstances in which this right can be revoked are if you have been in an accident resulting in the death or life-threatening injury of another person. In any other situation, the officer should advise you of the potential penalties you face if your blood alcohol concentration is found to be over 0.08 percent or more, as well as the potential penalties you face if you refuse the test.

The penalty in Maryland of refusing to submit to a blood alcohol content test is an automatic 120-day suspension of your driving privileges for the first offense. However, if you are charged with drunk driving, you could face substantial fines, as well as incarceration, the loss of your license, higher insurance rates and difficulty obtaining insurance coverage. An experienced DUI attorney can advise someone in a situation such as this one.

Source: NBC Washington, "SUV Crashes Into Wendy's in Maryland," June 17, 2013

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