Our office receives a number of calls from people who face suspension of their driver’s license and/or steep fines for accumulating too many traffic violations. Often, a caller has been arrested for drunk driving who already has one or more DUI convictions on their record.
These callers often feel helpless, and I can hear the desperation in their voices. If there was ever proof that there is always a ray of hope and things may not be as desperate as they seem, it comes in the form of a story of a recent DUI conviction and ensuing sentencing in Maryland.
A Driving Record Beyond Belief
In this case, Rick Impallaria, a Maryland State Assembly delegate, was sentenced to just two days in jail for a January drunk driving conviction despite having more than 50 traffic citations, including a conviction for assault for attempting to use his car to strike other people – his own mother and brother among them. As if that weren’t enough, Impallaria’s deplorable driving record also includes an accident that resulted in a fatality, although no criminal liability was assigned in that case.
A closer look at how Impallaria emerged from this latest conviction with such a light sentence reinforces the lesson that it is always wise to work with a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney who can minimize the impact an arrest or conviction has on your life.
Questionable Police Tactics
Under Maryland laws, a person with Impallaria’s poor driving record would be subject to a minimum of 10 days in jail for the DUI conviction and possible suspension of his license. A circuit court judge sentenced Impallaria to 60 days in jail, the state’s maximum penalty, and 18 months supervised probation, according to court records. He then suspended all but two days of the jail sentence due to concerns about circumstances of Impallaria’s arrest.
According to news reports of the sentencing, the judge took issue with the arresting police officer’s tactics. The officer spotted an unopened beer bottle in Impallaria’s truck while the lawmaker was not in it. The officer reportedly waited for Impallaria to return to his truck, start the engine and open the beer before arresting him.
The judge said that in the interest of serving and protecting the public, the officer should have arrested Impallaria before he began operating his truck. As a result, he suspended all but two days of the jail sentence, but left the supervised probation plus fines and court costs in place.
Learning From Mistakes
We do not condone driving after consuming too much alcohol. At the same time, a single mistake should not completely derail an Illinois resident’s life. We don’t often represent clients with the number of citations that Impallaria racked up, but we do defend motorists who face challenging circumstances. In many cases, we are able to produce results that leave our clients pleasantly surprised and with their daily life still intact.