The Maryland DUI laws are constantly changing, which means they can be difficult to understand and almost overwhelming for those charged. This is especially true for first time offenders who have never been through the criminal court system. Most drivers who are arrested for DUI are released from the police station, but we are seeing more drivers booked into the local jails than ever before. Either way, once the shock of being arrested and charged wares off, the stress of what lies ahead arrives. The first thing to understand about a Maryland DUI is that each defendant is fighting two battles at the same time. The most obvious battle is the court case, where a driver can face anywhere from three to more than ten citations in the District Court of Maryland. This battle must be taken seriously, as the punishments requested by the State for drunk driving are increasing in severity. All defendants in impaired driving cases are advised to retain a lawyer for the court case, but the more time sensitive battle may actually be with the MVA. An experienced Maryland DUI lawyer can help with both the court case and the case with the MVA, but in this post we will focus solely on the immediate consequences regarding driving privileges after being charged with DUI.
The immediate consequences for a DUI arrest are much different for in-state drivers than out-of-state drivers. First of all, the police do not have authority to confiscate a person’s out-of-state driver’s license, and the home state will not likely be notified of the charge until the case is over. This means that an out-of-state driver arrested for DUI in Maryland will not have his or her license suspended until much later in the process, if ever. On the other hand, an out-of-state driver may lose his or her privilege to drive lawfully in Maryland. Out-of-state drivers who wish to stay here and drive lawfully must switch to a Maryland restricted license in order to drive legally after 45 days. The firm specializes in representing out-of-state DUI cases, and we are happy to provide a more detailed explanation over the phone or in person.
Law enforcement will confiscate the licenses of Maryland residents arrested for DUI, and in exchange will provide a temporary license in the form of carbon copy paper. This temporary license is good for 45 days, and during this time a defendant will have no driving restrictions. The 45-day period is not a time to sit around though, as a driver will have a couple of options and a limited amount of time to decide what to do. Those who refuse the breath test or who blow over a .15 will have to choose between not driving for 9 months or installing the interlock device in their car. There is no wiggle room for the interlock requirement on a refusal or a high-test result, and prevailing at an administrative hearing is difficult. The administrative law judge or ALJ does not have the authority to do anything but allow interlock provided there was a valid basis for the suspension in the first place. An ALJ may allow drivers who must use a work vehicle to drive said work vehicle without the device as long as adequate proof is provided in advance.
We have prevailed in administrative hearings in cases where there was no evidence that the defendant was driving or was in control of the vehicle, but these cases are rare. Anyone who refused or who blew over .15 should install the interlock device in their car within the first couple of weeks after the arrest in order to keep driving legally. After installing the device (we can help you find a provider) we recommend making an appointment with the MVA for the next day or even the same day, as you do not get credit for days with the device until the MVA issues a restricted license. The interlock program will last for 1 year unless there are violations that can add on 30 days. Try not to use mouthwash before blowing into the device, as the machines are highly sensitive and will register the presence of alcohol.
Maryland drivers who blow .08 or higher but less than .15 are eligible for a restricted license provided they request an administrative hearing within 30 days and then are successful in persuading the ALJ that a restricted license is warranted. A restricted license will allow a defendant to drive to and from work, and also for medical and other necessary trips. As long as the defendant proves he or she is gainfully employed and cannot adequately commute to work via public transportation there is a high likelihood of the ALJ granting a restricted license.
A person arrested for DUI in Maryland will be able to lawfully drive after their arrest as long as he or she elects interlock or requests an MVA hearing, and then follows the rest of the statutory requirements. The only absolute is that driving within 12 hours after a DUI arrest is not permitted. Otherwise, there is no reason a person with a valid license will lose their ability to drive after a drunk driving arrest. The requirements and time limits may seem overwhelming, but an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer can walk you through all the steps necessary to keep you on the road. Benjamin Herbst specializes in traffic matters such as state and federal DUI, driving on a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, driving an uninsured vehicle, failure to appear bench warrants and fleeing or eluding an officer. He has won numerous DUI jury trials representing first offenders and repeat offenders alike, and can be reached 7 days a week at 410-207-2598.