The holidays are a time of celebration, fun and indulgence. But it is important to keep the celebration going all season long by tempering fun with caution. Spend your time with family, not behind bars, and your money on presents, not fines and citations. The ENLawyers want you to keep the following laws in mind when heading out on the town this holiday season:
In Maryland, disorderly conduct is any incident on public property that is considered to be “disturbing the peace,” including excessive noise, blocking the movement of people or vehicles, being drunk or otherwise intoxicated in public or acting in a lewd or offensive manner. Determining what is “excessive,” “lewd” or “offensive” is up to the discretion of law enforcement, and your level of intoxication will play a large factor in their determination. It is one thing for a few kids to get boisterous on the sidewalk (which may end in a stern warning from a passing cop), but another for a drunk adult to start shouting obscenities at a passerby—a misdemeanor, possibly resulting in sixty days in jail, or a fine of $500.
DUI and DWI
This is the age of Uber, Lyft, and rideshare companies, not to mention taxis, MTA and designated drivers. Montgomery County and the District of Columbia even have a free SoberRide taxi program, in effect from mid-December to the beginning of January. With the abundance of transportation options at our disposal, there should not be a need to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Maryland, a BAC of .08% or more constitutes driving under the influence (DUI), regardless of your driving ability at the time. Alternatively, if your “normal coordination” has been in any way impaired by, you could receive a DWI, a lesser but still punishable offense. Refusal to agree to a breathalyzer or blood test can result in a license suspension, starting at 180 days for a first-time offense, and up to a year for multiple offenses.
Part of being a lawful citizen is knowing your rights. Wherever law enforcement stops you, be it on the street or in your car, you have the right to:
- Remain silent. Speaking, especially while intoxicated, could incriminate you.
- Request an attorney. It’s their job to know how to handle the situation.
- Refuse a search of your person or property.
Ensure a hassle-free encounter by asserting your rights in a respectful and polite manner. Stay calm, and do not act in a way that escalates the situation. It is your right to record your encounter with law enforcement, if you so choose, but it is important to be mindful of how that decision could become a legal issue.
These charges may seem like minor infractions, but can have a serious impact on your holiday season, and the rest of your life. Whether during the holidays or any other time of year, stay safe, be smart, and know the law. For more information on DUI, DWI or other criminal charges, contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Eldridge and Nachtman.