As Maryland DUI lawyers and Maryland Criminal Defense attorneys, we get this question at least once a week, usually for a client who has their first-time run-in with the law. We’ve talked about it before, here. Frankly, it deserves a second go-around, because the results speak for themselves: Clients who complete the programs we recommend get better results in court (from Nolle Prosequi, to Stet, to PBJ, to avoiding the slammer).
Maryland DUI: Prepare for the worst, demand the best
If you have followed our blog for any period of time, you know that we love to try cases, especially Maryland DUI trials. Truth is Maryland criminal defense attorneys try less than 10% of their cases; if they tell you any different, they are lying. WHY? For many clients, the “trial tax” is not worth the risk and the results are substantially better if they are able to negotiate a plea from the state. Of course, our entire philosophy is to prepare your case as though it is going to be tried. See here, here, and here. But the reason you hire a lawyer is so that you don’t have to worry about preparing your defense…let us prepare all possible defenses in your case. The homework that we, and any good Maryland DUI lawyer will give you is to successfully complete a treatment program that suits your needs. That is you, doing everything in your power, to prepare for the worst (i.e. having to take a plea bargain).
Maryland DUI: Preparing for the worst means putting yourself on probation (so the judge doesn’t have to)
We like to call it your “mini-probation” with the thought that if you do it, the judge doesn’t have to! If you are willing and able to show the effort of going to meetings, going to a treatment program, and successfully completing a program by your trial date it shows the judge several things (in the event that you need to take a plea):
- You take the charges seriously
- You care enough to show the judge that you are committed to recovering if there is a problem
- If there isn’t a problem, you still put forth the effort
What types of cases should involve a type of pre-trial treatment program? (not an exhaustive list)
- Any and all Maryland DUI cases
- Any Maryland Drug crime
- Any case involving Domestic Violence (anger management)
What types of treatment are available? It varies, but here are some examples:
- 30 day inpatient programs
- 26 week intensive outpatient programs
- 1 weekend inpatient program, with aftercare
- 1 weekend outpatient program (12 hours, the lowest class we recommend)
Maryland DUI: It’s about the little things
Sometimes it is the smallest of differences that will push a prosecutor to get rid of a case or a judge to grant the PBJ where they otherwise wouldn’t. Here are two examples of excellent results that were due in part to treatment:
- For example, I recently had a client who was on probation for a drug crime. He picked up a new, very similar charge. While the prosecutor was originally out for blood, I was able to expose several key weaknesses in their case. Now, ordinarily the prosecutor could press forward despite the exposed weaknesses in the case; because my client was on probation. Fortunately, I had my client in a highly respected and reputable treatment program and ultimately the prosecutor dismissed the case.
What if I can barely afford my lawyer and am charged with a Maryland DUI? Often we have clients who, for one reason or another have fallen on hard times. There are treatment options available for cash strapped clients.
- I recently represented a 4th-time Maryland DUI defendant in Harford County (or as I say, Hazard County). The client did not have health insurance and was out of work. Private pay programs were out of the question. I located a local AA meeting that was within walking distance of the client’s house. He got himself to 3 meetings a week for the 6 months prior to trial. That small difference, plus some discrepancies in the police report and technical issues with the breath test made the difference between a few weekends and a one-year jail sentence.
Maryland DUI: The bottom line
Certainly not every case is right for treatment, but every Maryland DUI client should strongly consider following our advice and complete a certified treatment program. The bottom line is that we work with a variety of treatment providers and will seek one that fits your location and scheduling needs.
If you are a first time offender for DUI/DWI and want to get a head start on the “mini-probation” immediately, just call Maryland Driving School, and tell them we referred you. This school manages a 12-hour alcohol education class that is revered by Judges and produces great results. Not to mention, they offer other programs tailored to solve a host of other MVA related issues.