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Archive

Category Archives for "Frequently Asked Questions"

I was going with the flow of traffic, is that a valid defense?

Going with the flow of traffic is not a defense. Here in Maryland, especially along the interstates (I-70, I-95, I-695, I-195, I-795, etc.), 'the flow of traffic' is generally above the posted speed limit.

The way the speeding law is written (Transportation Article §21-801.1), as long as you are traveling above the posted speed limit, regardless of reason, you are technically guilty of speeding.

Even though many police officers don't issue citations for just a couple miles an hour over the limit, they are allowed to do so.

A police officer can only stop one vehicle at a time (unless the officer is working as part of a speed enforcement team, then they can collectively stop more than one vehicle at a time), so as many judges say "you were the unlucky one that day."

If you received a speeding ticket in Maryland, and would like to discuss your case with Scott, complete the Traffic Ticket Evaluation Form.

There were other cars on the road around me, how does the police officer know it was me?

The answer to your question varies slightly depending on what technology the officer used to obtain your speed. In Maryland, almost all stops for speed are based on either LIDAR or RADAR (although your speed can be determined by pace, VASCAR, or other means). How the unit works and how the officer determines that the speed reading is from your vehicle differs slightly between the two.

LIDAR

LIDAR units use pulses of light to determine the speed of a vehicle. When the officer lines up the sight on the LIDAR unit with the front of the car, he/she pulls the trigger and three pulses of light (laser beams) are shot at the target, reflect off of the target, and are then 'received' by the LIDAR unit. The unit then uses distance the laser beams traveled, along with how long it took them to travel the distance to determine the speed of the target vehicle. LIDAR units are typically certified to be accurate to +/- 1 MPH and are claimed to be vehicle-specific to up to 4,000 feet or 3/4 of a mile, although most readings I see are under 2,000 feet.

LIDAR units are deemed to be vehicle-specific because the 'angle of influence' (how wide the beam is) of the laser beam is so narrow that even at a distance of 4,000 feet, the beam should not be wider than one car.

RADAR

RADAR units use pulses of radio waves to determine the speed of a vehicle. Unlike LIDAR units, most RADAR units are always on, sending and receiving signals (although there are some instant-on radar units). RADAR units also have a much wider 'angle of influence', so the officer must take additional steps to make sure that the reading the unit is displaying is accurate and for the proper vehicle. As part of the 'proper operating procedures', the officer is supposed to visually estimate the speed of the target vehicle. The reading on the RADAR unit should correlate with that visual estimate.

Pace/VASCAR

Pacing is when the officer essentially follows a vehicle and uses the police cruiser's speedometer to get a speed. In theory, when a police officer paces a vehicle, the officer's cruiser and the target vehicle are traveling at identical speed, with the target vehicle immediately in front.

VASCAR is used in a manner similar to a pace, but the police cruiser does not need to be traveling at the same speed as the target vehicle. In fact, the police cruiser can be stationary. VASCAR works based on the mathematical formula of distance divided by time equals speed (e.g. 65 miles divided by 1 hour = 65 MPH). When stationary, the officer measures a distance between two objects (for example two telephone poles) and enters that into the VASCAR unit. When a vehicle passes the 1st known object, the officer clicks a button starting the timer on the VASCAR unit. When the vehicle passes the 2nd known object, the officer clicks the button again, stopping the timer. The VASCAR unit then calculates the average speed of the vehicle between the two objects.

Regardless of the method the officer used to obtain your speed, an experienced traffic defense lawyer knows how to exploit every possible weakness in the State’s case. If you received a speeding ticket in Maryland, and would like to discuss your case with Scott, complete the Traffic Ticket Evaluation Form.

Does a police officer have to show me his RADAR gun?

It is a common misconception that an officer has to show you his RADAR or LIDAR (Laser) device. In Maryland they can't even lock the speed in. At trial it comes down to the officer's word against your word. The officer was presumably using equipment that has been calibrated and certified. Most stops in Maryland are based on LIDAR, or laser, although many police cruisers have RADAR units installed. Some of these RADAR units are "moving" RADAR units, which means the unit can obtain speed readings of other vehicles while the cruiser is moving.

LIDAR​

LIDAR units are deemed to be vehicle-specific, because the laser beam is so narrow. The LIDAR unit has a red dot in a sight, and the officer places the red dot on the front of your vehicle (typically aiming for the license plate, or grill) and pulling the trigger. The LIDAR unit then sends out three pulses of light that bounce off the front of your car, and are reflected back to the LIDAR unit. The unit then uses the distance that those three beams of light traveled, along with the difference in time between the light pulses to calculate the vehicle speed. The speed shown on the LIDAR unit is supposed to be accurate to within 1 MPH, and it also gives the officer the distance between your car and the officer to the 1/10th of a foot.

Stationary RADAR​

RADAR units have a much wider beam, so it 'gathers' more information. The unit displays the speed of the strongest signal, not necessarily the fastest object. Among other operating procedures, the officer is supposed to use the "Doppler Tone" to determine the strength of the signal. The louder, and higher the pitch of the Doppler Tone, the stronger the signal.

​Moving RADAR

​Moving RADAR uses the same technology as Stationary RADAR, but the unit has two RADAR antennas, operating at different frequencies. Because the unit uses two different antennas, there are more checks that must be done to make sure the unit is operating properly, and when used in moving mode, the officer is supposed to make sure that the speed at which the RADAR unit thinks the cruiser is driving matches the speed on a certified and calibrated cruiser speedometer.

​There is a way to fight speeding tickets, and an experienced attorney knows how to exploit every possible weakness in the State's case. If you received a speeding ticket in Maryland, and would like to discuss your case with Scott, complete the Speeding Ticket Evaluation Form, and Scott will contact you.

What should I do when I get a ticket?

  • The first thing you should do is when the officer is walking up to your car, make sure that your hands were on steering wheel where the officer can see them
  • Roll your window down before the officer gets there
  • If you're stopped at night, make sure that your interior light is on so the officer can see into your vehicle
  • ​Have your drivers license and vehicle registration ready

If the officer asks
Do you know why I stopped you?

Just Say
No Officer, I Don't

If the officer told you why he stopped you, now is not the time to argue.

  • It is imperative that you are polite and cooperative with the police officer - your cooperation or lack there of will be brought up in court.
  • If the officer gives you one of the hand written tickets, be sure to sign the ticket.
  • Just signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt, it is just acknowledgment that you received the ticket.

If you don't sign the ticket, the officer can arrest you!

YOU ONLY HAVE 30 DAYS TO COMPLY WITH THE TICKET

Here are your options to comply:

  • Pay the ticket
  • Request a disposition hearing
  • Request a Trial

For more information about your choices, read this post.

* 30 days to comply if you receive what is called a "minor traffic ticket" (jail is not a potential penalty). If you are charged with "serious traffic" offense(s), you must appear for trial, and a trial date is automatically set.

If you would like Scott to take a look at your case, complete the Traffic Ticket Evaluation Form.

Did you like this post? If so, please share and leave a comment below!

What should I do if I’m pulled over for DUI?

A traffic stop is one of the highest-risk things a police officer does.

When an officer is walking up to your car, they have no idea what they are about to encounter.

Anything you can do to make the officer more at ease especially when approaching vehicle will make things go better for you.

If you are stopped during the day, make sure that your hands were on steering wheel where the officer can see them and roll your window down before the officer gets there.

If you're stopped at night, make sure that your interior light is on so the officer can see into your vehicle.

The officer will typically ask "How much did you have to drink tonight?"

That is the DUI equivalent of "When did you stop beating your wife?"

No matter how you answer, the officer will interpret your answer against you.

If you use what you think is the safe answer as "two," that is the answer that most police officers get and they won't believe you.

Even if you only had two drinks, the officer will not ask any other questions to narrow down when you actually had those drinks.

You best answer is "My lawyer told me not to answer that question."

At this point, the police officer will likely ask you to step out of your vehicle to "perform some tests."

These Field Sobriety "tests" are designed for you to fail
DO NOT DO
THEM
.

Most people asked me "well, won't I get arrested then?"

My answer always is that yes, you will likely be arrested, but you were probably going to get arrested anyway.

Why give the State extra evidence against you? Read about what to do when asked to take the breath test.

Read more about the Field Sobriety Exercises (the police call them Field Sobriety Tests), DUI defense in general, or download my FREE book "How to Choose a DUI Lawyer in Maryland." If you are facing DUI charges and want Scott to take a look at your case, complete the DUI Case Evaluation Form and Scott will contact you.

Does a penny under your tongue fool the breath test machine?

Prior to your taking a breath test, the breath test operator is required to check your mouth for any foreign objects. Even if you were able to sneak a penny under your tongue, it wouldn't have any effect on your breath test result. So in short, there really are no secret tricks to fooling the breath test machine – there are only ways that the breath test machine can for you.

Any foreign substance in your mouth could actually cause the breath test result to be higher rather than a lower, as demonstrated in this YouTube video by my friend and colleague Justin J. McShane, Esquire of The McShane Firm in Harrisburg, PA.

The harder you blow into the machine the higher your breath tester so is going to be. If you don't blow hard enough, the police may say that you didn't provide a sufficient breath sample which is the same as a refusal. The breath test machine that Maryland uses, the Intox EC/IR II requires a breath sample of at least 1.5 liters, or 1500 milliliters. If you provide 1499 milliliters of a breath sample is considered an insufficient sample.

Read more about why your breath test result was probably not accurate or download my FREE book "How to Choose a DUI Lawyer in Maryland." If you are facing DUI charges and want Scott to take a look at your case, complete the DUI Case Evaluation Form and Scott will contact you.

I didn’t have that many drinks, how accurate is the breath test?

Simply put, the breath test may not be accurate.

The test is looking for .08 grams of alcohol her 210 liters of breath. To put that in perspective .08 g is about three grains of rice and 210 liters is about the size of a 55 gallon drum.

That means the machine is looking for three grains of rice in a 55 gallon drum or an oil drum.

To make the math easy, your breath is only about 2.1 liters, so the machine is actually only looking for 1/100 of those three grains of rice, or about three grains of salt out of your breath sample.

The machine is also working off of a mathematical formula that converts your blood alcohol level to a breath alcohol level.

The formula relies on two numbers that it assumes our constant - the temperature of your breath and what is called a partition ratio.

If either of these two numbers are different than what the machine assumes they are, then the result of the breath test will be wrong.

For example, if the temperature of your breath is 1° higher then the pre-programmed temperature that machine uses, your breath test result will automatically be 7% above your blood alcohol level!

Read more about why your breath test result was probably not accurate or download my FREE book "How to Choose a DUI Lawyer in Maryland."

If you are facing Maryland DUI charges and want Scott to take a look at your case, complete the DUI Case Evaluation Form and Scott will contact you.

Will I lose my license or go to jail for my DUI?

Will I lose my license?

If your breath test result was under .15 and this is a first DUI then you will likely be able to keep your license for getting to and from work, driving for work purposes, school, alcohol education or treatment, and court.

If your breath test result was .15 or more or if you refused to take the breath test, the only way that you will be able to keep your license is if you have the ignition interlock installed on your car for a year.

If however, your attorney is able to successfully argue on your behalf at an MVA hearing, then you will keep your full license.

When you are arrested, you were given two copies of the "DR–15A officers certification and order of suspension" (or "Temporary License").

The "Driver's" copy of the Temporary License is your drivers license.

You were on so given a "Hearing Request Copy" of the Temporary License – it has a section on the back with instructions on how to request your hearing.

Although you have 30 days to request a hearing, in order to continue driving beyond the 46th day after the "Issue Date" on the Temporary License, you MUST request your hearing within 10 days.

The hearing request is considered incomplete and will not be accepted by the Office of Administrative Hearings without a check for $150.00 (payable to "Maryland State Treasurer"). Mail the request to "Office of Administrative Hearings, 11101 Gilroy Rd, Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1329."

Will I go to jail?

If this is your first DUI, then you will likely not go to jail, unless there are aggravating circumstances like an accident with personal injury (especially to another person) or an extremely high breath test.

Also for a first offense DUI, you will likely be offered was called Probation Before Judgment (commonly called a PBJ).

A PBJ keeps the conviction and any points from appearing on your public driving record. The law currently only allows a PBJ once every 10 years.

Unlike most other criminal or traffic charges, a PBJ for a DUI cannot be expunged from your record. If you do get another DUI sometime in the future, a charge may consider that as a prior DUI.

To learn more about DUI laws and the defense of DUI charges, check out the DUI section of the website. You can also download the FREE book "How to Choose a DUI Lawyer in Maryland." If you have been charged with a DUI, you can complete the DUI Case Evaluation and Scott will contact you to discuss your case.

Charged with DUI?

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