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How to handle a DUI traffic stop

When you make the decision to drive after consuming alcohol in Maryland, you are gambling with your life and freedom. No matter how conservatively you drink, law enforcement is always around somewhere watching the roads and waiting for someone like you. An officer only needs probable cause to pull you over.

Learn how to handle a DUI traffic stop to protect your rights and avoid additional penalties.

Remain respectful

You may be upset about being detained by law enforcement, but if you do not stay calm and respectful, things can quickly escalate beyond your control. The officer may ask you questions about your activities and why you believe they pulled you over. They may also ask you your name, birthdate and other personally identifying information. You do not have to answer any of their questions except for those regarding your name, birthdate and age.

Understand the consequences of refusal

According to the implied consent law, you must submit to a chemical test when there is suspicion of a DUI. You have the right to refuse such testing. However, before you do, you need to understand the consequences and potential benefit. The benefit of refusal is there may be less evidence. If you decline to provide a sample, you risk the suspicion of your driving privileges. The length of time for suspension is dependent on whether it is a first-time or subsequent offense for you. In addition to losing your driving privileges, you could face a DUI criminal charge.

Avoid incriminating yourself

Officers may say all sorts of things to get you to reply so they can further assess your level of intoxication. They may also ask you if you had anything to drink. Do not admit to drinking. If you do, you could end up in jail where they can subpoena the courts for a search warrant to obtain a chemical sample from you against your will. Do not lie to the police, either. If they ask you something potentially incriminating, deflect the question respectfully.

Bear in mind that you may end up in jail regardless of whether you submit to chemical testing or not. Evidence from your arrest is admissible in court. However, the way you act during your DUI traffic stop and the steps you take immediately afterward can determine the outcome of your situation. If you are dealing with a DUI charge or a related traffic offense, you should speak to an attorney for guidance. This information is only intended as educational material and should not be used as legal advice.

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