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Columbia DUI Lawyers

Protect Your Future with Award-Winning Representation: (410) 927-5137

Don’t let a DUI ruin your future! There are a number of time-sensitive things in Maryland DUI cases that one must be aware of. If you have been arrested for or charged with DUI, now is the time to get the help of the Columbia attorneys at Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates.

We offer free consultations to help you better understand the situation you face and how to make the best use of the legal options you have available.

Dial (410) 927-5137 now or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

As a result of focused practice in the concentrated area of Maryland/Howard County DUI and Maryland/Howard County Criminal Law, the attorneys at Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates impart significant experience and proven results in defending their clients’ charges in Maryland and Howard County’s Criminal and Civil Courts. Call us now and get the info you need to return to normal life.

An arrest and subsequent criminal charge for a DUI or DWI expose you to a host of potential punishments:

  • The most serious charge carries a maximum penalty of three (3) years of incarceration and possibly a $3000 fine.
  • Additionally, if charged with a Maryland DUI or DWI, one can lose his or her privilege to drive for up to one (1) year or more regardless of guilt or innocence.
  • Following a DUI arrest and charge, it is critical that defendants become informed of Maryland Vehicular laws and take action immediately.

What Is "Driving"?

As Howard County DUI lawyers, we have handled countless cases where people have attempted to use their vehicles to sleep off a night of drinking and found themselves charged with DUI/DWI. It is of paramount importance to understand that driving for purposes of DUI law does not mean driving in the classic sense of the word. “Driving,” for legal purposes, is being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle.

In this definition, the Maryland Legislature intended to differentiate between those inebriated people who represent no threat to the public because they are only using their vehicles as shelters, and those people who represent an imminent threat to the public by reason of their control of the vehicle.

The benchmark Maryland case of Atkinson v. State, 331 Md. 199 (1992), describes six factors for Judges/Juries to consider when determining if one is in “actual physical control” of a vehicle:

  • Whether or not the engine is running or the ignition is on (strongest factor)
  • Whether and in what position the person is found in the vehicle
  • Whether the person is awake or asleep
  • Where the vehicle’s ignition key is located
  • Where the vehicle’s headlights are on
  • Whether the vehicle is located in the roadway or is legally parked

It is clear from the factors above, that one can be charged and convicted of DUI/DWI in Maryland without ever actually moving his or her vehicle. Getting into a cars driver’s seat, turning on the engine for heat, and falling asleep while drunk technically, legally, exposes one to a charge of driving under the influence or driving while impaired by alcohol.

The only sure way to avoid a DUI charge in Maryland, or any state, is to never get behind the wheel of your vehicle, even if you don’t plan to move it, with any alcohol in your system. And if you plan to sleep things off in your vehicle, you should make sure your car is off and you’re somewhere other than the driver’s seat.

Counseling Is Imperative!

Any defendant facing charges for a Howard County DUI must take steps prior to appearing in the District or Circuit Court to get evaluated by a Maryland Certified Alcohol Treatment Center. Most first time DUI offenders will be considered for a probation before judgment disposition, which serves to strike a guilty finding.

However, the Judge’s and State’s Attorney’s decision-making process will surely focus on the Defendant’s actions post charge and pre-sentence. Getting involved in counseling voluntarily and contemporaneously with the date of offense is one major step in the right direction to a lenient disposition.

Counseling Information

There are private organizations such as the Columbia Addictions Center, located at 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 205, Columbia, Maryland, who will take swift action to properly evaluate and treat any alcohol or drug related issue. All Maryland treatment providers begin with an initial evaluation where standardized tests are given to place one in an abuse category. The categories typically run from “social drinker” to “addict,” and based on the level of risk, the provider will make a recommended course of treatment.

Generally, a “social drinker” will be recommended to complete twelve hours of alcohol education while an “addict” can be requested to participate in open-ended counseling. Patients of any Maryland alcohol treatment provider can expect to be requested to submit to random urinalysis and to participate in both group and individual counseling. Most treatment is done on weekly basis in an outpatient capacity. At times, however, an evaluation can reveal a problem so grave that inpatient treatment is recommended. Costs can range from $450 (for outpatient) – $3000 or more (for inpatient).

Dealing with Financial Challenges

Understandably, some cannot afford a premium private counseling center. For those individuals, the Howard County Health Department’s Substance Abuse Service is a great option.

The Howard Health Department is the only publicly funded addictions, prevention, and treatment program in Howard County that treats patients regardless of ability to pay. Fees for treatment at the Health Department are based on a sliding scale, and the only requirement is residency in Howard County.

For non-Howard County residence, each county in Maryland runs a similar service. If charged with and DUI in Howard County along with finding the right legal counsel, counseling should be a top priority.

Contact Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates for Help!

Although our office is located in Columbia, we serve Howard County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, Frederick County, and Queen Anne’s County. We have successfully handled, and will handle, cases in counties not listed - on a case-by-case basis.

Contact us at (410) 927-5137 now to begin protecting your rights and your future.

Why Chose Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates

  • We are available for you 24/7. Our clients are our priority

  • Every initial consultation is free and no-obligation.

  • Our clients love us. Take a look at our reviews page!

  • We approach every case as a unified team.

  • We are highly recommended and awarded by various associations.

  • We are a team of former prosecutors and know how the other side thinks.