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Fourth Time DUI/DWI Offender Successfully Defended

Maryland DUI Attorney. I had a somewhat interesting DUI/DWI case with a client who was repeat offender yesterday in the District Court for Baltimore County. My client, who is from West Virginia, was charged with DUI and DWI. The facts of the case were that he was travelling Westbound on Pulaski Highway in Baltimore County, Maryland at approximately 12:15AM on the morning of September 12, 2008. He and a friend were visiting other friends in Maryland and were staying at a motel on Pulaski Highway. They had gone out to dinner and then to a “Gentleman’s Club” and were returning back to the motel.

The motel was located on the East side of Pulaski Highway which is a divided four lane road with two lanes in each direction and a cement barrier separating the lanes. My client and his friend were not intimately familiar with the area and it was dark. They inadvertently passed by the motel and had to proceed approximately a half mile further West on Pulaski to reach the first break in the median. Here, there was a dedicated left turn lane and no signs prohibiting either a left turn or a u-turn.

Because my client did not see any other cars in the area he did not utilize his turn signal prior to executing the legal u-turn. Unfortunately for him, a police officer was behind them. According to the police officer, he had his headlights on but was approximately 300 feet behind my client’s vehicle at the time my client executed the u-turn. According to my client and his passenger, the police officer did not have his headlights on and they never saw him until he activated his emergency equipment.

My client was pulled over. He was asked to perform the standardized field sobriety tests, which according to the officer he failed. According to the report my client told the officer, “you got me drunk, you may as well just take me to jail”. The officer did precisely that. Once back at the station my client elected to take a breathalyzer and blew a blood alcohol content of .17.

As I said, my client was a repeat offender so he was facing the very real possibility of going to jail if convicted. In fact, this case constituted his fourth offense so he was very likely looking at a jail sentence of 6 months to a year. On the stand the officer agreed that he was the only car behind my client and that the distance between the cars was at least 300 feet. He further agreed that the traffic at that time was “exceedingly light” and that my client had executed a legal u-turn. He also testified that he couldn’t recall if there were any cars driving eastbound on Pulaski at that time but agreed that no other vehicle had to swerve, slow down or take any other evasive action as a result of my client’s u-turn.

Once the testimony was complete I made my argument. I pointed out to the court that the Maryland Motor Vehicle Code does not require a person to use his or her turn signal in all instances. Instead, the statute says that a person must utilize the turn signal if ” any other vehicle might be affected” by a failure to do so. I argued and the court agreed given that the officer was 300 feet behind my client, the fact that there was no testimony that any other cars were affected by my client’s failure to use a turn signal and the fact that my client had conducted a legal turn from a dedicated turn lane, that the officer did not have probable cause to stop my client. The court suppressed all evidence of my client’s intoxication and found him not guilty.

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