Why Do You Practice DUI Defense?
My name is Marc Ward and I came out to Frederick to work and I have been working here protecting the rights of individuals who have been accused of crime for the last twenty-two years. Unlike a lot of lawyers who start off working maybe in the state attorney’s office where they prosecute people or working for other firms and then transfer over, I started doing this right at the very beginning. I had the great experience and opportunity working for a great local lawyer by the name of Jack Rumford who was a small-town lawyer. He was what you will call, a real and true believer in the constitution and people’s rights. He was a man who could have made tremendous amounts of money if he wanted to, but that was never what motivated him.
What I learnt from him was the importance of protecting people’s rights from the government, the Police and from the state. From him, I got the very important principles of upholding and defending the constitution. So many people ask me all the time if you have a problem defending guilty people and I always respond that I do not ever ask one way or the other, so I never really know and nobody really ever knows what happens and what all the factors are. What is important, is that the constitution and the rights that we have, are very important rights and should never be put aside or bent for the necessity of the government’s agenda. That is why I want vigorously, ethically and morally defend the people who have been accused and charged.
One of those common defense lawyers especially in smaller towns, we are in a smaller jurisdiction not in the most urban jurisdiction, and one of the common cases in smaller jurisdictions are handling these drunk driving, DUI and DWI offenses. They sort of all get lumped into one category. It is one of the most common kinds of cases, because from a procedural perspective from the police and from the government side and the state, it is a very easy case. All they need is a small amount of any probable cause to stop the vehicle, standard case, they detect some kind of odor of alcohol beverage from the person or in the car and then they ask you to do the field sobriety tests. They are never done to the satisfaction of the police officer because of those objectives and then they place you under arrest.
What happens next is really very important that whether or not take the Breathalyzer test. Maryland has made it an individual or a separate criminal offense not to take it, or to refuse the test and it is certainly made the administrative penalties onerous. So not taking a test means you are going to be subject to one hundred and twenty days of no driving and that is not modifiable in any way, for work, school, or medical. You will have to; pick up your children from daycare unless you agree to a whole year of ignition interlock. For a first offense in Maryland, the officer reads you the rights if you decide and if you sign the paper “I don’t want to take the Breathalyzer because I don’t want to provide any additional evidence to the state, I don’t want to make it any easier for the government”, you are now subject to this very onerous and harsh burden of proving your privilege to drive in the state.
We always talk about what is the difference between the privilege of driving and a license of drive. It does not matter the piece of plastic that you have in your wallet, what is important is whether your privilege is valid or not valid. So, you are facing one hundred and twenty days for hard suspension non-modifiable. Number of years ago, they come out with this ignition interlock device that is the only opportunity, if you take that and put it in your car for an entire year. What happens with that is now you have to pay about eighty-to ninety dollars a month for its maintenance and you have to have it downloaded. Every time you go in the car, it will ask you to give a sample breath. Every sample breath is then electronically reported in the device, the chip, and then sent electronically once a month to the MVA.
So, if you have a breath that they think has alcohol in it, if you do not blow fast enough, or if you turn it off, take it out of the car, it records that and the MVA will send you a notification of violation. They could take it out of the car or maybe start all over again and add months to it before it can take it out and close the suspension. On that, of course, you have the right to get a hearing.
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