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Your Rights When You Are Pulled Over for a DUI 

Kathleen M. Kirchner Attorney At Law  June 6, 2024

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that can have long-lasting consequences.

However, understanding your rights when pulled over for a DUI can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

This guide aims to provide valuable information on your legal rights during a DUI stop, the potential consequences of asserting those rights, and what steps to take if you believe your rights have been violated. 

Why Understanding Your Rights Is Crucial

DUI laws are designed to prevent impaired driving and ensure public safety. In Maryland, as in other states, law enforcement officers take DUI offenses very seriously, employing stringent measures to identify and penalize offenders.

However, while these laws are in place to protect the public, it’s equally important for individuals to understand their rights during a DUI stop to protect themselves from potential legal pitfalls. 

Knowing your rights is imperative because it can: 

  • Help you avoid self-incrimination. 

  • Ensure fair treatment by law enforcement officers. 

  • Strengthen your defense if the case goes to court. 

As the saying goes, "Knowledge is power." Being well-informed about your rights during a DUI stop can help you navigate the situation more effectively and safeguard your future. 

Your Rights During a DUI Stop

When pulled over for a DUI, remember that you have specific legal rights designed to protect you. Here are key rights you should be aware of: 

The Right to Remain Silent 

You have the right to remain silent and not answer any questions that may incriminate you. While you must provide basic identification information, you are not obligated to answer questions about where you have been, what you have been doing, or whether you have been drinking. 

The Right to Refuse a Field Sobriety Test 

Field sobriety tests are used to assess a driver's physical and cognitive impairment. However, these tests are often subjective and can be influenced by a variety of factors such as medical conditions, fatigue, or even nervousness. In Maryland, you have the right to refuse a field sobriety test without facing additional penalties.  

The Right to Refuse a Preliminary Breath Test 

Similar to field sobriety tests, preliminary breath tests (PBT) conducted at the roadside are not mandatory. You may refuse a PBT without immediate legal consequences. However, it's important to note that this refusal could lead to arrest based on other observations made by the officer. 

The Right to Consult an Attorney 

If you are arrested for a DUI, you have the right to consult an attorney before answering any questions or undergoing further testing. It’s advisable to exercise this right immediately to ensure all subsequent actions are legally sound. 

Consequences of Asserting Your Rights

While asserting your rights can help protect you, it’s important to understand the potential consequences of some of them: 

Refusal of Tests 

Refusing field sobriety or preliminary breath tests might lead to your arrest. However, this refusal means there will be less direct evidence against you, which can be beneficial for your defense. 

Impact on Your Case 

Asserting your rights, such as remaining silent or refusing tests, can complicate the prosecution's case against you. However, it’s essential to handle these situations tactfully to avoid escalating the situation with law enforcement officers. 

What to Do if Your Rights Are Violated

If you believe your rights were violated during a DUI stop, follow these steps: 

Document the Incident 

Take note of all details surrounding the stop, including the officer’s behavior, any statements made, and the timeline of events. This information can be crucial for your attorney to build a strong defense. 

Contact an Attorney Immediately 

Reach out to an experienced DUI attorney like Kathleen M. Kirchner, who has extensive experience defending clients against DUI charges in Anne Arundel County and beyond. An attorney can provide you with legal advice tailored to your situation and help you navigate the complex legal landscape. 

File a Complaint 

If necessary, file a complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency to ensure that your concerns are officially recorded and addressed. 

The Importance of Legal Representation

Having legal representation is critical when facing DUI charges. An attorney like Kathleen M. Kirchner can provide invaluable support by: 

Analyzing the Case 

Kathleen will scrutinize every detail of your case, from the initial stop to any tests performed, to identify weaknesses in the prosecution's case. 

Defending Your Rights 

With her background as a former assistant state's attorney, Kathleen knows how prosecutors build their cases and will use this knowledge to mount an aggressive defense. 

Negotiating on Your Behalf

Kathleen will negotiate with prosecutors to potentially reduce charges or penalties, ensuring the best possible outcome for your situation. 

Know Your Rights & Use Them

Understanding your rights during a DUI stop is essential for protecting yourself and navigating the legal system effectively. Remember to remain calm, assert your rights respectfully, and seek immediate legal counsel if needed. With the right knowledge and support, you can face DUI charges with confidence and aim for a favorable outcome. 

For sound legal advice and relentless support, contact Kathleen M. Kirchner, Attorney At Law. Whether you're dealing with a DUI or any other criminal charge, Kathleen's affordable, aggressive, and compassionate representation will ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.  

Protect your rights and secure your future—schedule a free consultation with Kathleen today.