June 2012 Archives

Maryland Driver Arrested For 8th DUI

June 28, 2012

1172422_police_on_the_scene.jpgA Berlin, Maryland man has been arrested for his 8th drunk driving offense according to the Maryland State Police. Troopers responded to a traffic accident on Route 50 in Wicomico County at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning and made contact with the allegedly intoxicated driver of a 2002 Ford Explorer. The driver who was later charged with DUI apparently failed to stop at a red light, and rear ended a Suzuki SUV that was stopped and waiting for the light to turn green. The driver of the Suzuki, a 47-year-old woman, apparently suffered minor injuries, as did the 3 passengers traveling in her vehicle. All four of the occupants of the Suzuki refused medical treatment from on scene EMTs and left the scene on their own power. The driver of the Explorer however was not afforded the ability to leave the scene on his own power, as the Maryland troopers detained the man for sobriety exercises.

The Maryland police officers reportedly immediately noticed signs that the driver may have been driving under the influence of alcohol, and lawfully detained the driver for further investigation. The Maryland DUI defendant was subsequently placed under arrest for his poor performance on the roadside sobriety exercises. Maryland State Police officers quickly found out that the defendant was also driving on a suspended license for multiple previous DUI convictions. In addition, the defendant was required to install an engine interlock device in his car if he ever miraculously obtained a valid Maryland drivers license in the future. Not surprisingly the cereal DUI defendant was driving without his interlock device properly installed. The DUI defendant has a lengthy criminal record in Maryland, and drunk driving charges are not the only type of criminal cases that appear on this record. Theft and disorderly conduct are just some of the other criminal charges that appear on the defendant's rap sheet. The defendant also has dozens of traffic citations over the last 25 years in multiple Maryland districts, including Ocean City, Salisbury, and Snow Hill.

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Are Maryland Drunk Driving Laws Too Lenient?

June 24, 2012

1335478_glasses.jpgIn Maryland, and throughout the county, drunk driving is one of the most publicized crimes in the entire justice system. Not only is drunk driving the most common crime in the country according to the bureau of justice statistics arrest data, but drunk driving also affects the widest range of people. Drink driving defendants come from all ages and backgrounds, with some being multiple convicted criminals and others being first time offenders. Drunk driving also affects a wide range of victims, including children. Each year, powerful and well funded lobby groups pour millions of dollars into establishing comprehensive drunk driving educational programs in our schools, and educational commercials on television and radio. These lobby groups also influence state and federal lawmakers to pursue and maintain strict drunk driving laws, and are many times successful in influencing these lawmakers. Recently some of this attention has Maryland drunk driving laws in the news as well.

Maryland drunk driving laws have recently been called into question for being too lenient relative to other states in the country. A closer look at the DUI laws in other states reveals that this criticism does not appear to be a reasonable one. Maryland currently has the 26th strictest drunk driving laws in the country according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). While this statistic puts Maryland in the middle of the pack in terms of strictness, these numbers can be misleading. Although Maryland may not have as strict a drunk driving policy as Utah, which enforces a 2 day minimum mandatory jail sentence for a first DUI, by no means is Maryland a lenient state when it comes to drunk driving.

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Will Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws Increase Teen Marijuana Users?

June 20, 2012

1314902_medical_doctor.jpgThe recent movement to legalize medical marijuana in Maryland has been gaining steam each year, and the state legislature is slowly moving toward joining 17 other states and Washington D.C. as medical marijuana states. Although there is no medical marijuana bill currently being debated, the Maryland legislature is trending in the medical marijuana direction, as evidenced by recent bills that have modified state marijuana laws. Just last year, the Maryland governor signed off on a law that effectively decriminalizes marijuana use provided that the accused can produce a valid note from a licensed medical doctor that indicates a medical necessity for the drug. In addition, the Maryland legislature passed a law that will lower the maximum penalty for simple possession of marijuana from 1 year in jail to 90 days in jail. On the other hand, medical marijuana is still not legal in Maryland, and regardless of where the state legislature is trending, thousands of Marylanders are still being arrested for possession of the drug each year.

The medical marijuana decriminalization law only comes into play after a defendant has been arrested or ticketed for marijuana possession, because the law only authorizes a judge or prosecuting lawyer to dismiss criminal charges upon production of a valid doctor's note. In other words, a person with a doctor's note for medical marijuana use cannot simply show the note to a Maryland police officer and expect to be told to be on their way. Decriminalization of medical marijuana does not mean legalization, but there is no doubt that in the next few years Maryland will take the next step to full medical marijuana legalization. It is simply unrealistic to assume that the state's justice system will continue to support a policy that requires producing doctor's notes to judges and prosecuting lawyers. When medical marijuana becomes legal in Maryland, and undoubtedly during legislative debating sessions, a critical question that will be asked is whether medical marijuana legalizations will result in increased numbers of teen drug use.

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Baltimore Road Rage Incident Results In Serious Injuries, And DUI And Assault Arrests

June 16, 2012

774605_car_accident_2.jpgRoad rage and aggressive driving incidents in Maryland have become common in the last decade, and law makers have been forced to address the issue, but rarely does a road range incident make news headlines. Unfortunately a recent dangerous road rage incident appeared in the news just last weekend. The Maryland state police has reported that a road rage incident on interstate 295 in Baltimore has resulted in a pair of arrests and multiple serious injuries. Police arrested one Maryland man who was the driver of the main vehicle involved in the road rage incident for DUI, assault, and destruction of property. The passenger, another Maryland man, was also arrested and charged with assault and malicious destruction of property.

Maryland police reported that the incident began around 8:30 p.m. last Saturday night in the southbound lane of 295 in Baltimore City. The driver who was arrested for DUI was driving extremely erratically, which prompted another vehicle to honk its horn. The alleged drunk driver took offense to this gesture and rammed his Nissan pickup truck into the passenger side of the other car, a Subaru, and kept driving. Then the alleged drunk driver and the passenger of the Nissan further escalated the dangerous situation by coming to a complete stop in a lane of traffic and exiting their vehicle, forcing other cars bound for Baltimore County to come to a stop as well. The driver and passenger approached the same Subaru, which was unable to go around the Nissan, and began violently kicking and punching the car for no apparent reason other than being honked at. This strange and terrifying situation prompted the driver of a Pontiac to intervene and help out the Subaru's passengers. Upon seeing the driver of the Pontiac exit his vehicle, the alleged drunk driver and his passenger stopped their assault on the Subaru and returned to their Nissan, but the incident was not nearly finished.

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D.C. Unlikely To Decriminalize Marijuana....Yet

June 12, 2012

1268685_washington_monument.jpgWashington D.C. currently has tougher marijuana laws than Maryland and Virginia but that may change if D.C. mayor Vincent Gray can sway district officials in the coming months. The mayor has publically stated that the D.C. government will focus on implementing their medical marijuana program, but should not ignore the opportunity to make policy changes for recreational marijuana users. Washington's medical marijuana law was approved in 2010 and allows sanctioned marijuana dispensaries to grow and distribute to drug to patients with a medical marijuana prescription. The city's medical marijuana program has struggled to gain support from the community as a whole, and changing this perception appears to be the mayor's main focus. But decriminalization of marijuana is still on the government's radar, and the policy changes that the mayor is speaking of would not necessarily mean legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Rather the first step would be to decriminalize the drug, making simple possession of marijuana punishable only by a civil fine, and not by a term of incarceration as the law currently provides.

Criminal possession of marijuana in Washington D.C. carries a maximum jail sentence of 6 months and a $1,000 fine for first time offenders. Meanwhile in Maryland, the legislature recently passed a law that will lower the maximum jail time for a first offense of possession of marijuana from 1 year to 90 days. Technically speaking Maryland will have a tougher possession of marijuana maximum penalty than D.C. until October when the law goes into effect, but the Maryland criminal justice system is already changing the way possession of marijuana cases are handled, and has been for some time. First time offenders rarely receive a jail sentence for simple possession of marijuana in Maryland, much less anywhere close to the maximum jail sentence under Maryland law. The state of Virginia has even more lenient marijuana laws than the new Maryland law, as a first time possession of marijuana charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 30 days.

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Baltimore Retail Theft Crime Levels On The Rise

June 5, 2012

22186_klauandlauf.jpgRetail theft is one of fastest growing crimes in the United States, but Maryland and especially Baltimore appear to be suffering the greatest increases in theft crimes. The FBI has estimated that retail theft may cost the U.S. about $30 billion per year, and these losses are often passed on to the consumer in the form of higher priced goods. While many retail theft crimes are carried out by novice shoplifters or misguided juvenile thrill seekers, the major impacts of retail theft are the result of organized and sophisticated theft operations. When we hear the phrase organized crime, our minds immediately take us to classic mobster movies such as the Godfather, Goodfellas, and Casino, but not all organized crime involves high stakes gambling or drug operations. In fact, retail theft has become one of the most common sources of income for organized crime operations, and now Maryland appears to be a new up and comer in the organized retail theft arena.

The National Retail Federation or NRF recently included the Baltimore Washington area on its published list of organized retail theft hotbeds, which also includes such cities as Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago. Organized retail theft in Maryland has gone beyond simply walking into a store and leaving with goods without paying. These theft operations can sometimes involve large numbers of people collaborating to steal goods and then sell or fence the goods at discount prices. The stealing and fencing of goods has become a popular source of income for gangs throughout the Baltimore area. The goods themselves are not always stolen in actual stores, as recently an entire truckload of Kmart goods was stolen by an organized crime operation in Maryland. According to the NRF, the key to stopping large scale organized theft in Maryland is to intercept the stolen goods while in transit. Stolen goods simply cannot be sold in a store parking lot, and thus the goods must be taken to a secure area such as a warehouse where they can be fenced. Frequent checking of tractor trailers on Maryland roads by police is one way to crack down on stolen goods in transit.

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