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What Happens After A DUI Charge?

drink-driving-808790_960_720-300x200The DUI laws in Maryland change almost every year, which makes it difficult for the average person to know what to expect in the days and weeks following an arrest.  This is especially true for out of state drivers from states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware and others.  Two of the biggest questions after being arrested for DUI are going to jail and losing your license, so for this post we’ll focus on those two issues.

Will I go to jail if I’m arrested for DUI in Maryland?  First of all, the following paragraphs apply only to those defendants that intend to plead guilty.  If you believe you were wrongfully arrested you should certainly consider taking your case to trial (we always recommend a jury trial for DUI).  While no lawyer will ever be able to guarantee or predict a specific outcome it is extremely rare for a first offender to serve jail time for a first DWI or DUI.  This is true in all jurisdictions, including the federal courts that handle citations issued on certain federally maintained roads like the BW Parkway (295) and the Clara Barton Parkway, or on military bases like Fort Meade and Andrews. Unfortunately there are exceptions to this no jail for a first offense rule for cases involving injury accidents, extremely high BAC levels or not cooperating with police.

As for repeat offenders, the prospect of jail time increases depending on the number of priors and the time that has elapsed since the priors.  A defendant with one prior DUI that happened more than 5 years ago could certainly make a good case for a probation sentence, while a third time offender will have a more difficult time accomplishing this goal.   Maryland law imposes a mandatory 5-day sentence for a second DUI conviction within 5 years and a mandatory 10-day sentence for third conviction within 5 years of the last.  The best way to avoid jail time regardless of if you are a repeat offender is to be proactive, and show the judge this will never happen again.  We advise each of our clients to immediately seek out an alcohol education program, set up an evaluation and comply with any treatment recommendations.  You may not need counseling, but it will absolutely help in court and the judge will probably order it anyway.  After finishing the program be sure to obtain a certificate that you can present in court, and be ready to speak about your experience and answer any questions about what you learned.  An attorney can and should assist you in finding the right program.

Will I lose my license after a drunk driving arrest?  If you are arrested for impaired driving here and have a Maryland license the officer will take your license if you either refuse to submit to a BAC test or test over a .08.  The suspension will last for 270 days if you refuse and 6 months if you fail the test.  You will be given a temporary license that will last for 45 days, which lets you request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension.  These hearings are difficult if not impossible to win, and usually end up being a waste of time in refusal cases.  If you take the breath test and fail you could request a restricted (work purposes only) license at your administrative hearing.  There are also circumstances such as injury accidents when the police have a nurse or first responder take a blood sample from the driver.  These samples often take weeks to test, so your license will not be suspended or confiscated unless the test comes back over .08.  Either way, our advice is to have the interlock device installed in your car right away, and then go to the MVA to receive a restricted interlock only license.  While it’s annoying and costly, this device will allow you to drive without interruption.

If you are arrested for DUI in Maryland and possess an out of state drivers license the police officer is not allowed to take your license away. Your out of state license likely will not be affected until unless you are found guilty, but your privilege to drive in the state of Maryland will still be suspended 45 days after your arrest. You could have a perfectly valid license in Pennsylvania for example, but if you get pulled over in Maryland you’ll receive a citation that carries a possible jail sentence.  If you have any doubts about your ability to drive legally contact an attorney right away.  Suspended license citations are not to be taken lightly, especially if the suspension is impaired driving related.

To clarify, we generally use the abbreviation DUI when talking about drunk or impaired driving, but in Maryland DUI and DWI are two separate misdemeanors that carry different penalties.  This is true for jail and points (DUI carries 12 points, a 1-year jail sentence and a $1,000 fine for first offense, while DWI carries 8 points, a 60-day jail sentence and a $500 fine).  The two are often used interchangeably but they are not the same offense.  It’s helpful to think of DWI as the lesser or a second-degree offense to DUI, which is basically how these charges are compared in the jury instructions at a circuit court trial.  In Maryland receiving 12 points will result in a license suspension while receiving 8 points will required the completion of a driver improvement class.

If you have any impaired driving related questions feel free to contact Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin has handled hundreds of DUI cases and has received numerous not-guilty verdicts at trial.  He handles cases in all Maryland jurisdictions including federal court, and specializes in repeat offenders and out of state clients.  Benjamin also defense clients in citations for driving on a suspended license, and  is available anytime at 410-207-2598.

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