How to lose your commercial driver’s license

There is one surefire way to lose – or get very close to losing – your commercial driver’s license. If you’re a truck driver, your CDL is your livelihood, and a CDL violation could put your livelihood at risk.

There is more than one way to lose your commercial driver’s license, but for a truck driver, getting charged with DWI is one of the more serious offenses.

That’s exactly what happened to a 46-year-old trucker who crashed on I-95 late last month.

His truck leaked a chemical additive, causing the highway to be closed for clean-up that took several hours. In this case, as Steve Kilar reports for the Baltimore Sun, the chemical additive was not hazardous (which is not often true in oil tanker and tanker truck accidents).

As a result of the truck accident, the man was charged with negligent driving and DWI, among other things.

The blood alcohol limit in Maryland is 0.08, but it’s a mere 0.04 percent for truckers with CDLs. Kilar’s report did not indicate the level of the trucker’s blood alcohol content.

Source: Driver of truck that crashed, leaked additive charged with DWI

DWI patrols stepped up for Super Bowl weekend

Although most of us think of New Year’s Eve as one of the biggest drunk driving holidays in the early party of the year, officials in Maryland also launched extra patrols to protect drivers during the Super Bowl. The patrols in Washington County are designed to prevent traffic offenses related to Super Bowl revelry. Representatives from that jurisdiction say that their unit receives state funds to step up patrols during the holidays, including St. Patrick’s Day and events such as the Super Bowl.

In 2011, nearly 10,000 Americans died in alcohol-related crashes. That is the most recent year with comprehensive transportation statistics available. Last year, about 6,600 Marylanders were detained for drunk driving. Last year, troopers in Hagerstown caught 202 of those alleged offenders. Overall, crashes are far more likely to occur on weekends. Those weekends with well-known celebrations such as the Super Bowl may promote additional drinking.

Officers throughout the area say that individuals who are hosting Super Bowl parties can help their guests avoid a DUI charge by taking a few simple precautions. Those steps can also apply to parties year-round. Hosts are encouraged to serve non-alcoholic alternative beverages at their parties. Alcohol should also be cut off at the end of the third quarter of the came, when coffee and dessert can make an appearance. Hosts should also pay attention to their guests and take their keys if they have had too much to drink. Those who are out and about during football season are encouraged to take a cab or designate a sober driver for the evening.

Increased patrols on celebration weekends may lead to higher arrest numbers for Marylanders facing DUI charges. Those defendants may benefit from consulting with a qualified DUI attorney. A qualified lawyer can help defendants learn more about their legal rights.

Source:  Herald Mail Media, “Washington County steps up patrols to catch drunken drivers over Super Bowl weekend” Dan Dearth, Jan. 31, 2014

Alcohol classes required after certain traffic offenses

If you have been required to attend a 12-hour alcohol education program in Baltimore, you may not be entirely sure what to expect from this experience. Many criminal defendants are sentenced to attend AEP after having their driver’s licenses revoked because of DWI or other alcohol-related traffic offenses. You deserve to know exactly what you are getting into before you begin attending AEP; this article can serve as a quick primer.

First, you should understand exactly why you were assigned to attend AEP. You may have been referred to the program by an Administrative Law Judge or a District Court Judge. Alternatively, you may be required to attend the program after applying for a new driver’s license after your license was seized because of a DUI charge.

The 12-hour AEP course is fairly straightforward. To attend, you must use the information provided by the court to sign up for an approved session with 90 days of your individual due date. Make sure that you have your AEP referral with you when you go to the class; if you need a duplicate, you can obtain one from the Driver Improvement Programs Unit. Failing to attend your AEP session can have some serious consequences, however. If you do not go to the class, you will lose your driving privileges.

AEP and other similar programs offer important education and information for those who have gotten in trouble with the law because of a DUI charge. This type of program can provide alternative sentencing solutions, helping you stay out of custody because of your potential violation. You can have an active role in protecting your future by complying with AEP requirements, and your DWI attorney can help you learn more about avoiding license suspension after you have been approved to attend the class.

Source: Maryland Department of Transportation, “12-Hour Alcohol Education (AEP) Program Requirements” Oct. 29, 2014

DWI experts: Breathalyzers not always that reliable

Take a deep breath before you hear this news. If you think that Breathalyzers are always reliable when they measure blood alcohol content, think again. An increasing body of evidence suggests that certain populations may be unjustly accused of certain traffic offenses simply because of their body chemistry. If you have taken a Breathalyzer test recently, you need to know certain facts about the accuracy and validity of these commonly used machines. You have the right to refuse to take field sobriety tests and Breathalyzer analysis. A Baltimore DUI attorney can help you understand more about the DUI prosecution system.

Many of us do not understand how a Breathalyzer works. These machines measure the concentration of ethyl alcohol — the main ingredient in an alcoholic beverage — in the individual’s breath. The problem: Those machines often confuse other molecules for ethyl alcohol. Many other types of compounds actually resemble ethyl alcohol. For example, diabetic drivers have a body chemistry that could be high in ketones, depending on their health status. Acetone, which is commonly identified in the bodies of both serious dieters and diabetics, can easily skew the results of a Breathalyzer.

Further, environmental substances can also compromise the accuracy of a Breathalyzer reading used to bring a DUI charge. If you are an industrial worker or painter, you may be particularly affected by this fact. Consider the recent study that showed a subject with a blood alcohol content level of 0.12 percent, much higher than the legal limit for driving in Maryland. Had the man been drinking? No. He had simply been in the same room as a freshly-painted contact cement project.

In essence, it is important to realize that Breathalyzer results are vulnerable to error from a variety of sources. Personal and environmental factors play a role, but officers’ failure to maintain and calibrate their instruments may also be to blame. Remember that having a high BAC level from a Breathalyzer alone may not be enough to convict a driver on a DUI charge. Alcohol-related traffic violations have become a hot topic in the Maryland political scene. Don’t let yourself fall victim to aggressive prosecution; you have rights that deserve protection.

High school student dead after high-speed crash

A 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a fatal high-speed drunk driving accident that happened last Labor Day weekend. The incident resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy who was ejected out of the the vehicle.

The driver of the car pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, in addition to the charge of causing a life-endangering injury while intoxicated. According to prosecutors, the teenage driver lost control of the vehicle on a curve while driving 119 mph in a 35 mph zone. After losing control, the young man’s Chrysler convertible hit a tree.

In addition to the deceased 15-year-old boy and the driver of the vehicle, another 17-year-old boy was seriously injured in the crash.

According to prosecutors, the driver had a 0.11 percent blood alcohol content at approximately 4 a.m., which was about two and a half hours after the crash happened.

The plea bargain reached by the prosecution and defense in this case involved the removal of a request by the young man’s attorney for the case to be handled in juvenile court. After entering the guilty plea, neither the driver nor his parents commented about the hearing. However, the attorney said that the young man chose to plead guilty in order to honor the victims of the crash and their families and that he wanted to take responsibility for his actions.

Plea bargain arrangements are a common strategy in Baltimore court proceedings. In some cases, those who may be guilty of certain offenses may plead guilty, as this man did, in order to honor the victims who were harmed by the actions. They may not put the victims’ families or their own through any more pain. A guilty plea and plea bargain may also be a way for convicted individuals to gain a reduced sentence in lieu of harsher punishments.

Source: Washington Post, “Teen driver was going 119 mph in crash that killed high school student,” Donna St. George, July 17, 2015