DUI Penalties in Maryland

Maryland used to have a law where you were considered under the influence if your blood alcohol level was over 0.10. They have since lowered it to 0.08. They have also enacted stiffer penalties for those who refuse to take a breathalyzer test. If you do get caught with a blood alcohol level over 0.08 here is a synopsis of the penalties you could be facing.

1st offence

The police officer will take away your license and issue a temporary license that is good for 45 days, if you take the breathalyzer test. You can send in a request for a hearing (within 10 days) to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and they will issue a letter that you keep with your temporary license. This letter extends your temporary driving privileges until the time of your MVA hearing. You will be required to take an alcohol education and treatment class before your can get a new driver’s license. If you refused to take the breathalyzer test, your license is automatically suspended for 120 days or you can get a little device called an Interlock device that will require you to blow into it in order to start your engine. If you blow above the state minimum, the car will not start. This device will remain in place for 1 year, in lieu of the mandatory 120 days of suspension. In court you can get probation before judgement (PBJ) but that depends on how high your alcohol content was, and the judge. If you get PBJ, you will probably get community service and be required to attend alcohol education classes, a MADD Impact panel meeting, and some AA meetings. If convicted, there is a maximum penalty of 1 year and points (DUI – 12 points, DWI – 8 points) and a maximum of $1000 fine. There are no points if you are granted a PBJ. Your license will be modified to accomodate work-related driving (this is only if you took the test; if you didn’t then the license will be suspended for the length of your sentence).

2nd offence

If this occurs within 5 years of the first conviction (not a PBJ), there is a mandatory 5 day jail sentence, community service is possible, and your license is suspended for 90 days. A refusal to blow results in an automatic suspension of 1 year. There is no allowance made for work – related driving and you may be required to use the interlocking device. You may be referred to a medical advisory board for assessment. In court, if convicted you get points on your license (DUI – 12 and DWI – 8) and your license is revoked for 120 days. If this occurs within 5 years of a previous offence, then an interlock device is required on your vehicle for 3 to 12 months.

3rd offense

On a 3rd offense, you will probably go to jail, depending on the judge. There is a 10 day minimum jail stay. Your license will be suspended for 90 days and an interlock device might be required for one year after serving one year of a hard license suspension (this depends on how recent your prior conviction was).

For the 2nd and 3rd offense it is advisable to get inpatient treatment before your trial to help reduce your jail term. The drug and alcohol classes, taken before the Motor Vehicle Administration hearing will help influence the outcome of the hearing. If you are convicted you will need to get insurance specially catered to DUI drivers. The rates are much higher than normal insurance and most states requires that your insurance company provides a form called an SR-22 showing that you are insured for the next 3-5 years.

The wisest thing to do is not drink and drive. Most of the time we are not aware of how impaired our mental abilities are, until it is too late.

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