Thomas G. WitkopLaw Offices

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Reduced Suspension at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration

My client stopped on Interstate 270 because he had a flat tire. The trooper came up from behind and investigated. The trooper testified that my client had an odor of alcohol and could not remember how my client did on the field sobriety tests. My client gave a breath test which indicated .08 blood alcohol content. The trooper confiscated my client's Maryland license but forgot to give him the temporary license (as is required by law).

At the motor vehicle administration hearing in front of the administrative law judge I argued that my client's due process rights to a hearing before the government confiscated his property had been violated. More specifically, the state of Maryland through the trooper took my client's license to drive (even though it was an oversight, he just forgot to give it to him) without a hearing.

I further argued that the trooper did not have reasonable grounds to believe that my client was operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol based on merely an odor of alcohol and unknown field sobriety tests.

Unfortunately, the judge did not find that my client had been deprived of his property (interest in keeping his privilege to drive) without due process. The judge argued that my client's license was not suspended even though the officer never returned the license. I argued that his license may not have been suspended but for him to operate a motor vehicle without a license is a crime in Maryland and he therefore suffered prejudice and no action should be taken. The judge rejected that argument claiming that my client was only prejudiced for one day and consequently she would give him credit towards his suspension.

As to the lack of reasonable grounds the judge found that at least a moderate odor of alcohol is sufficient for there to be reasonable grounds for the officer to request that a breath test be taken.

Based on the judge's findings the maximum suspension my client could have would be 45 days. I argued to the judge that if she was willing to let one of the days go let 30 of the days go and only impose a 15 day suspension. Based on my client's excellent driving record, the fact that he had completed an alcohol education course and because the state of Maryland did make a mistake by confiscating his permanent license and not handing him a temporary license the judge reduced the suspension for 30 days to include work purposes, medical purposes, education purposes, and alcohol treatment purposes.

Even something as mundane and everyday as drinking and driving involves principles of constitutional law, statutory law, case law and even regulations. Through hard work and persistence I was able to at least reduce the sting of the suspended license for my client.
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