As a Former Maryland DUI/DWI Prosecutor, I represent people charged with DUI/DWI at their bail review hearings on a regular basis. Many people don’t realize that at a bail review hearing the judge can raise the bail, not just lower it. This is why it is so important for a person who is charged with DUI/DWI to immediately contact an aggressive and experienced DUI/DWI Attorney.
Case in point: I was hired by a man who was charged in Baltimore City with his first DUI/DWI offense. After being arrested and charged he was taken to the Court Commissioner for his initial appearance. In spite of the fact that this arrest constituted his first DUI/DWI offense and that he had strong ties to the community, to include having a family, a steady job and owning his home, the Court Commissioner set his bail at a very high $27,000. The client rightly believed that this was an abnormally high bail and decided not to post the bail and instead to attend his bail review hearing the next day. The client chose not to consult an attorney at this point believing that the worst thing that could possibly happen at the bail review would be that the judge would refuse to reduce the bail, and that in all likelihood would substantially reduce it if not release him on his personal recognizance. Under most circumstances the client would have been correct; in this situation his decision turned out to be a very costly mistake that could have been avoided had he or one of his family members contacted an attorney immediately upon being arrested.
The client attended the bail review the next morning at the Central Booking Intake Facility courtroom. He was represented by the Public Defender who explained the client’s substantial ties to the community and lack of prior DUI’s. Unfortunately for him, the judge who was handling the bail reviews that day is known to be basically irrational when it comes to DUI’s. This judge routinely sets ridiculously high bails or even holds DUI defendants without bail. (I blogged last year about a case that I handled in which this judge held a second DUI offender without bail.)
After listening to the Public Defender’s presentation, as well as that of the pre-trial investigator who also recommended a bail reduction, the judge raised the bail to $200,000. He actually told the Public Defender on the record that she had “talked him down to $200,000”.
Had the client or someone on his behalf contacted my office or another experienced DUI/DWI attorney, he would have been advised him to immediately bail out because the attorney would have known that this judge was handling bail reviews. Because he was unaware of the identity of the bail review judge, this client spent three additional days in jail before his family was able to get enough money together to hire a bail bondsman and get him out of jail. Given that the bail fee is generally 10% of the total amount of the bail (you do the math), it is safe to say that this client’s failure to contact an attorney immediately upon his arrest was indeed a costly mistake.