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Criminal Law

Nuts & Bolts: The DUI/DWI Case

Mandeep Chhabra & Gill Cochran


hose of us who are regularly in the trenches defending driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated (DUI/DWI) cases are seeing

more and more new faces. Many attorneys are handling first-time offenders with the presumption that a probation before judgment disposition (PBJ) is a worst-case scenario, so they are taking these seemingly easy cases. Te bottom line is nothing can be further from the truth. With the changes in the DUI/DWI statutes over the last few years, it’s very important to know the law inside and out. Otherwise one is most certainly doing his client a disservice. We have found that the criminal defense bar is more than willing to help oneanother so it’s important to ask before handling a DUI/ DWI case. Te defense of a DUI/DWI case begins when the client

is stopped for suspicion of DUI/DWI. In a perfect world each of our clients would have us on speed dial and call us as he or she is getting stopped. Although we have seen our clients do this a handful of times, it’s not often that this happens. If you are lucky you will get a call from the client before he or she takes the official breath test back at the police station. But again, this doesn’t happen often enough either. It’s important to educate your clients to know their Constitutional rights before they are stopped. Most everyone knows that there are two parts to every

DUI case. Simply put, one has to do with the client’s freedom (the District Court trial); the other has to do with the privilege to drive (the Motor Vehicle Association [MVA]/ administrative portion of the case). Over the years, it has become abundantly apparent that most clients are concerned with the privilege to drive in a first offense. Terefore, the MVA/administrative portion of the case is key to getting a good result for the client.

Trial Reporter / Summer 2011 49 Given that the administrative sanctions are different

for refusals, results 0.15 and above and underage offenses. It’s really important to brush up on Transportation Article § 16-205.1 and the related cases. It’s also important to know the regulations under Transportation Article § 16-113(f) which deals with alcohol restrictions. Most importantly, if your client has a commercial driver’s license (CDL), it’s of the utmost importance to know Transportation Article § 16-812 as the ramifications for a CDL driver could be most devastating to his or her livelihood as being disqualified for a CDL after a DUI is possible. Te variables at an MVA hearing are limitless. In some

cases avoiding the hearing all together and accepting the interlock are not entirely out of the question, but one really must know of the likely outcomes before advising a client on what to do from the outset. It’s also key to meet with your client within 10 days of the arrest since the hearing has to be requested within that time frame. Otherwise, the client will lose his or her privilege between the time the temporary license runs out and when the hearing is scheduled. Remember, a temporary license is only good for 45 days after the initial arrest unless the MVA sends out an extension. In most cases, the extension is only sent if the client requests a

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