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Baltimore Criminal Defense Blog

What are the standard field sobriety tests used in Maryland?

If Maryland police pull you over because they suspect you of driving under the influence of alcohol or some other substance, the officer may ask you to participate in a few tests to check for impairment. Field sobriety tests check for physical ability and mental concentration. Both of these things tend to be lacking in intoxicated drivers.

There are only three standardized field sobriety tests that the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration recognizes. What are they? Do you have to participate if asked?

Police need a warrant to collect certain cellphone information

Most people in Maryland and across the country have a cellphone. You may use your phone for simple tasks like sending a text, or you may use it to check email, conduct work-related activity, search the internet and more. You could even be among the seemingly decreasing number of people who use their cellphones to make actual calls. Though cellphones add convenience to many people's lives, they also provide outside parties with information.

Cellphone service providers collect a variety of information from their users, and even if you think you have certain collection permissions turned off, it is almost certain that your information still gets to outside parties in various ways. For example, cellphone providers collect your cell site location information, or CSLI, which can show where a cellphone was at a particular time in relation to cell towers.

Will entering a rehab program help my DUI case?

So, the police charged you with driving under the influence of alcohol in Maryland. Now what? Do you sit by and let prosecutors decide your fate, or do you take steps to seek a case dismissal or, at least, minimize any consequences possibly coming your way? When it comes to DUI cases, it is always worth it to choose the latter of the two.

The consequences associated with a DUI charge can be significant, especially if you have previous drunk driving convictions on your record. If you are quick to take action after your arrest, the outcome of your case will be far better than if you wait it out and do nothing. For example, some people may not be aware that putting oneself in a rehabilitation program before one's case goes to court is something that can help the court see one in a more positive light.

Underage DUI can derail your future

You probably know that the law prohibits you from drinking alcohol if you are younger than 21, but you may feel you are protected since you are no longer under the watchful eyes of your parents. However, the law still applies even to those in college. In fact, Maryland's zero tolerance policy for underage drinking means you may be taking a great risk to consume alcohol if you are underage, especially if you plan on driving.

Zero tolerance means that if a blood alcohol test reveals even a trace of alcohol in your system, police will likely arrest you forĀ underageĀ DUI. You likely have many plans and goals. Your course of study may be moving you closer to achieving your dreams. However, few things can alter a promising future faster than a criminal conviction.

What does the 4th Amendment mean for you?

You have certain rights, but like many people, you may not be certain exactly what those rights include. It's important to understand how to proceed when you are facing questions from police or law enforcement is trying to search your personal property. The Fourth Amendment pertains to your rights regarding searches and seizures, and it can be useful to know what it means.

The Fourth Amendment is incredibly important as it protects your personal privacy and freedom from unreasonable intrusions by the government into your property, home or place of business. Understanding this right is useful if you ever find yourself the subject of a police investigation. When you know your constitutional rights, you will be better equipped to stand up for yourself and speak out against unfair or illegal treatment by law enforcement.

A concealed permit doesn't mean you can take your gun everywhere

Maryland has fairly strict gun laws, but if you own one and have a permit, you already know that. Without your permit, you could face a handgun violation for having it in the trunk of your car, let alone on your person.

Even so, having a permit isn't an all access pass. You could still end up facing a handgun offense if you take your weapon to the wrong places.

Possessing pills without a prescription

For many in Maryland who suffer from painful illnesses, injuries or surgeries, prescription medications help them deal with the pain while their bodies recover. Other drugs help patients who struggle with symptoms of depression, attention deficit, schizophrenia and a host of other physical and mental conditions. Because these drugs are often powerful and dangerous if misused, the federal government places tough restrictions on their distribution.

One of the restrictions is that you need an order from a doctor to obtain pharmaceutical medications in certain categories. Having possession of prescriptions drugs without a prescription, or in violation of your prescription, can lead to serious legal trouble that you may find difficult to handle on your own.

DUI checkpoints common between now and January

If you plan to spend your holidays enjoying nights out on the town, be prepared to come across police who are looking for drunk or otherwise impaired drivers. DUI checkpoints are legal in Maryland and are commonly seen between now and January.

Law enforcement officials must report the locations and operation times of DUI checkpoints. This gives area residents and even visitors to the state time to plan their driving routes if they wish to avoid these stops. Still, when traveling to certain places, they may be impossible to avoid. It's okay; you should know what to expect should you find yourself waiting to get through.

Conditions during field sobriety tests could affect your case

Seeing flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror may have you immediately feeling anxious. If the stop comes after you had a few drinks with your friends, you may have even more reason to feel as if the situation will not turn out in your best interests. You may not feel as if those drinks impaired your driving abilities, but the officer will certainly investigate to determine whether he or she believes that is the case.

One common investigative tool that Maryland officers use during a possible DUI traffic stop is standard field sobriety tests. Typically, officers will have drivers perform certain actions to check their balance, coordination and eye movement. However, it is important to remember that officers use these tests in efforts to gather evidence and obtain probable cause for taking a driver into custody. You will also want to remember that you do not have a legal obligation to participate in field sobriety tests.

Did your traffic stop lead to aggravated DUI charges?

Everyone makes mistakes. That reality is a simple part of life. Of course, some mistakes could come with serious consequences, especially if they involve the law. 

A DUI charge can have major impacts on your life. The exact charge you face could also have a significant effect on the possible consequences if a conviction takes place. In particular, you could face enhanced penalties if a Maryland police officer charges you with aggravated DUI.