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Drunk Driving Defense Actions for You

When you were stopped the police may have taken your license and given you a temporary license to drive. Attached to that temporary license is a form which looks like a duplicate temporary license -- but  it is not. Turn the "duplicate" over and you will see that it is a form which you must complete and submit in order to request an administrative hearing. You must mail or deliver that form to the Office of Administrative Hearings, 11101 Gilroy Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1301. You must send in the form within 10 days after your arrest or your driving privileges will be suspended without a hearing. You must also enclose a check or money order for $150.00, made out to the Maryland State Treasurer, as your filing fee. Failure to enclose the check or money order invalidates your request. Do not send cash. I suggest that you send the form and filing fee via registered or certified mail.

Kindly telephone or go to the Maryland MVA or MVA Express and request the following 2 reports from the driver record database [1] Your Complete Driving Record, and [2] Your PBJ (Probation before Judgment) Driving Record. They must be certified by the MVA. Get these to me promptly. I will also need the complete driving record from every state in which you have been licensed to drive. If you have held licenses to drive in any other state, kindly obtain your complete driving record from each of those states, as well. State Motor Vehicle Departments for each of the states are listed here.

In chronological order, give me a detailed personal history showing me all your accomplishments and all traumatic events that have affected you.

The court will expect you to be enrolled in an alcohol education/treatment program that is state certified. Participating in such a program is not an admission which will injure your case. In fact, participation is not disclosed to the court unless the court finds that you have committed an offense and is preparing to sentence you. In this setting, your participation shows the court that you took prompt action in order to learn how to prevent a repeat offense. Generally, courts are more compassionate toward a defendant who shows such a personal desire to prevent such a risk to other persons in the future.

Some defendants have previous stops, arrests or convictions for intoxicated driving offenses, it is even more important for them to begin a program early to demonstrate good faith to the court. When repeat offenders begin a program it is wise to inquire about a potential "dual diagnosis," i.e. a search for an underlying difficulty which may have affected their desire for alcohol or drugs. Frequently, such people are self medicating for an undiagnosed disorder, such as hyperactivity, which is now called attention deficit disorder. Courts are responsive to defendants who take all reasonable precautions to prevent additional behavior which has already placed others in jeopardy.

You can find a program, which must be state certified, with the National Directory of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs. Once you find a program, inquire about costs and scheduling. Make sure the program schedules classes that work with your schedule [e.g. evenings and/or weekends]. Clients who live and are licensed outside Maryland, should attend a program in their home state.

Schedule an intake interview. Tell them that I represent you and that you want them to send all reports concerning your evaluation and progress to my office. They will ask you to fill out a release form -- please do so -- otherwise they cannot send me anything.

Programs will request that you complete different components, and attend over a longer period of  time, depending on how they view your alcohol or substance use. You can, of course, get a second opinion from another program, and attend the program of your choice. However, it is necessary for you to attend and be well into a program by the time you appear in court. A court will give far more consideration to a defendant who is prepared to show what he has done -- not just what he promises to do -- in return for leniency.

If you are currently receiving medical treatment or therapy, or if a medical situation affected your driving or sobriety test performance, tell your health care providers what happened and that I will need to speak with them. They should also give you release forms which you must complete before they will release information to me. Provide them with my name and telephone number, and provide me with their names and telephone numbers.

Select a nonprofit organization for community service. You can find many volunteer opportunities on the Internet at VolunteerMatch, Greater DC Cares, Network for Good, Idealist, Single Volunteers, United Way, and HandsOn Network. In Montgomery County, you can contact the County's own Montgomery County Volunteer Center. Medical based community service is very helpful in showing the court that you already have repaid your debt to society, because judges respect the effort it takes to perform those hours where you or a possible victim may have ended up as a result of your behavior. Check hospitals, hospices, old age homes and similar organizations.

When you have selected a program, speak to the community service director, explain your circumstances, and make sure they know you'll need a letter on official letterhead for your court date. The letter must state what your duties were, how many hours you performed and any other positive information they can provide. The letter should be addressed to me.

Generally, 20-30 hours of service begins to show the court that you are the type of person who helps, rather than harms, people. The goal is to make it difficult for the court to jump to the conclusion that you are a "taker" rather than a "giver." Once the court sees you as a "giver," the court begins to see you as less of a risk, and therefore less likely to need a harsher sentence to prevent a future episode of driving under the influence.

Please note that volunteer organizations may only be able to give you 2-3 hours per week. Therefore, an early start as a volunteer makes it more likely that you will have 20-30 or more hours at the time of sentencing.

If you took a chemical test for alcohol, and your job requires you to drive in Maryland, you will need to obtain a letter from your employer for the MVA Hearing. The MVA is authorized to allow you to drive to perform your job duties, by giving you 'work restricted' driving privileges, but only if you provide them with a letter from your employer. The letter must be on official letterhead, typed, signed by a company representative, and must include the following information: Your name, duties, length of service, a statement that you are required to operate a motor vehicle to perform your duties, and a statement that the employer is aware of your pending drinking driving charge. In addition, it would be helpful, though not required, if the letter states that you have been an excellent employee, and that the employer has never seen any evidence of your having abused alcohol during work hours.

I understand that you may have questions as to whether you will lose an employment opportunity by asking for this letter. You may be able to avoid the letter through a new program which would require you to install an Ignition Interlock system in your vehicle-- however, due to the fact to that the Ignition Interlock Program is new -- it is far from a sure thing and your best opportunity for a restricted license lies with obtaining an employer letter.

If you took the breath test you may also be eligible for an education, alcohol treatment, or commuting restricted driving privilege. Similarly, you must provide me with documents to show such a need so that I can present them to the administrative law judge.

If you refused a chemical test for alcohol you are not eligible for a restricted license. However, you may be able to avoid suspension through the Ignition Interlock program . If you are willing to install this device before going to your MVA hearing, you may increase your chance for having the Administrative Law Judge approve the program as an alternative to suspension. In addition, the Court may be impressed with you for having taken this action to protect others while you explore the role of alcohol in your life. If you are prepared to take this action, I will need to refer you an Ignition Interlock installer. Please advise me by e-mail if you want a referral.

Please note that all persons scheduled for an MVA hearing must bring their temporary license and all extensions with them to the MVA Hearing. In addition, if you drive to the hearing you will need a licensed driver available to drive you from the hearing, in the event your privileges are suspended.

Finally, if you are in the military, or were honorably discharged, please provide me with copies of all military records which show honorable discharge, awards, medals, letters of commendation, special class certificates and anything else which distinguishes your military service. This information often impresses the court, which understands that you have made far more deposits to the safety of others by your military service, than the risk to safety indicated by your traffic charges.

This information begins to make you a true and equal partner in your defense. Now, let's get to work.


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