DUI Defense

If You Are Charged with DUI OR DWI in Maryland

The first thing that someone arrested for drunk driving in Maryland needs to do (other than to immediately schedule a consultation with a lawyer) is, WITHIN 10 DAYS OF ARREST, request a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings, located in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

If there is a breath or blood test with a result of .08 or higher, or the person is alleged to have refused the test, then the arresting officer probably took the driver's license and issued a 45 day temporary driver's license.

The temporary license is actually a white piece of paper that should be attached to an almost identical piece of white paper. The second page is the hearing request copy and should be mailed to the Office of Administrative Hearings. (Don't forget to include a check for the required fee specified on the form to be made payable to the Maryland State Treasurer.)

If the hearing request is postmarked more than 10 days after arrest the applicable suspension may begin to run if the hearing is scheduled more than 45 days after arrest.

If the hearing request is postmarked more than 30 days after arrest, you probably can't get a hearing!

The hearings are held before administrative law judges in Hunt Valley or at MVA branch offices.

Suspension

The suspension for a test result over .08 is 45 days for a first offense and 90 days for a second or subsequent offense.

The suspension for a refusal is 120 days for a first offense and one year for a second or subsequent offense.

In some circumstances drivers may be able to avoid a complete suspension if they are willing to install an interlock device in their vehicle for at least one year.

Know your rights, contact Mike at 410-869-3400 for a free consultation.

In Maryland, to fully protect your rights, it is important to see a lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with drunk driving. Call 410-869-3400 or contact us online for a free consultation with Mike the Lawyer.

How Can A Lawyer Help?

A lawyer can be very helpful in developing defenses to these suspensions in many cases and in assisting the driver to obtain work or education-related privileges. Unfavorable decisions may be appealed within thirty days to the circuit court of the county where the driver resides.

The hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings, where the driver can lose his or her driver's license or privilege, is completely independent of the hearing at court where the potential sanctions can include jail, fines, probation, possibly imposition of points from the MVA, for which the driver may later be suspect to having his or her license being suspended, after the DUI/DWI is heard in court.

Effect of a Breath or Blood Test in Maryland State Court

In Maryland, the approved breath-testing device is currently the Intoximeter EC/IR. It is intended to give a measurement of deep lung air in grams of alcohol (a weight) per 210 liters of breath (a volume). For blood tests the result is measured in grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.

The test results have legal significance. If the result is .08 or more the driver is per se under the influence. If the test result is .07 or more, but less than .08, it is considered prima facie evidence the driver is impaired by alcohol. If the test result is more than .05 but less than .07, the test evidence is considered neutral. If the test result is .05 or less, the driver is presumed not to be under the influence of alcohol.

For the driver who is under 21 years of age, the legal limit is .02. The driver may lose their driver's license or privilege for 6 months and be fined. It is important to consult with a lawyer to gain a further understanding of the ramifications of these tests.

In some situations, a refusal to submit to a test may be considered as evidence of the driver's guilt.

Many defenses can be raised with respect to the administration of the breath test, both in court and at the administrative hearing.

What is the punishment for drunk driving?

Generally speaking, a conviction for a first offense may involve a fine, a license suspension or restriction, attendance at a DUI education course for a period of time, and supervised probation for one to three years. A short jail sentence may or may not be required; for a second or third offense, it often will. Additional punishment may involve community service, ignition interlock devices, AA meetings, and MADD victim impact meetings. On a second or subsequent offense, the MVA may seek to take the driver's license a second time, after the court proceeding is over, although the courts do not call this punishment. Many judges now impose jail time on a second offense. The range can be from one weekend to a couple of weeks in jail. A third conviction usually carries a significant jail sentence, with or without work release, and with supervised probation upon release.

Probation Before Judgment (PBJ)

If a driver that has been found guilty of either DUI or DWI and has not had a prior DUI or DWI in Maryland within the previous 10 years, he or she may be eligible for probation before judgment (PBJ) disposition.

After finding the driver guilty of the offense, the judge may strike the conviction and enter probation before judge disposition, pursuant to Criminal Procedure Article § 6-220.

When a driver receives a PBJ, they are placed on probation for a specified length of time. Probation may be supervised or unsupervised. If all the conditions of probation are met and there are no violations of probation, points are not assessed and the entry of guilt goes on a segregated record at the MVA that is not available to the public, but is available to law enforcement and the courts. However, if someone gets a PBJ and then is found in violation of their probation, they are facing the possibility of striking the probation, entering of the conviction, and the potential of incarceration.

It is important to note that although there are many advantages to a PBJ disposition, PBJ dispositions to a DUI and/or DWI are not eligible for expungement. Further, in terms of collateral consequences in certain contexts, PBJ dispositions may be treated similarly to convictions.

In Maryland, it is important to see a lawyer AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after being charged with drunk driving, to fully protect your rights. Call DUI attorney, Mike Mastracci now: (410) 869-3400.

Subsequent Offenders

Drunk driving laws contain possible enhanced penalties for repeat offenders, both in court and at the Motor Vehicle Administration. For example, the penalties at the Motor Vehicle Administration for blowing between .08 - .14 for a second offense is a 90-day suspension, as opposed to 45 days for a first offense. Similarly, if the test reading was .15 or higher, as a second offense the suspension is 180 days as opposed to 90 days for a first offense. For a second or subsequent refusal, the driver is facing a one-year suspension as opposed to the 120-day suspension for a first offense.

Further, multiple offenders face the possibility of a referral by the Motor Vehicle Administration to the Medical Advisory Board. Such a referral could lead to a suspension or revocation of the privilege to drive, as well as the possibility of a license restriction or interlock.

The maximum penalty for a second offense DUI is 2-year imprisonment and/or a $2,000 fine. In court, a second conviction for DUI within 5 years of the first carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 days incarceration. The maximum penalty for third or subsequent offense is 3 years imprisonment and/or a $3,000 fine. A third or subsequent DUI conviction within 5 years also carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days incarceration. Incarceration may include house arrest or in-patient treatment.

In Maryland, it is important to see a lawyer AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after being charged with drunk driving, to fully protect your rights. Call DUI attorney, Mike Mastracci now: (410) 869-3400.

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