More than likely, you thought you were okay to drive home after a night out. You started your journey, and everything was going fine until you heard that familiar and pulse-quickening squawk of a police siren behind you. If the officer suspects that you are impaired, he or she may ask you to submit to a breath test and field sobriety tests.
If you refuse to participate, the officer may take your license from you right then and there. In its place, you may receive a temporary paper license that lasts approximately 45 days. The same may happen if the breath test indicates your blood alcohol concentration is above Maryland's legal limit of .08. You may now be wondering what you could face if convicted. This article addresses the possibilities for a conviction for DUI only, not DWI or underage drinking.
DUI penalties in Maryland
If you plead guilty or a court convicts you of DUI here in Maryland, you face the following potential administrative and criminal consequences:
- If this is your first offense, you could spend up to a year in jail. You could also pay fines of no more than $1,000, lose your driving privileges for up to six months and receive 12 points on your license.
- If this is your second offense, you could spend at least five days in jail, but no more than two years in prison. You could also face fines of no more than $2,000, lose your driving privileges for a year and receive 12 points on your license. If this offense makes two in the last five years, the court may also order you to put an ignition interlock device on your car.
You may end up with an ignition interlock device in your car even upon a first conviction since the passage of Noah's Law in 2016. Also known as the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016, this law requires those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to participate in the program. In either case, the court could order you to undergo an alcohol assessment and possibly treatment as well.
I need my driver's license. Is there anything I can do to keep it?
Possibly. You may have the option to participate in Maryland's Ignition Interlock Program voluntarily. If approved, you may retain your license. The device will not allow your vehicle to start if your BAC exceeds .025. In addition, you may need to randomly provide a breath sample as you drive. Fortunately, you do not have to stop in order to comply with the device's retesting schedule. Your data must verify that your compliance with the program or you could face additional consequences.
Of course, this is all theoretical
The above information assumes you pleaded guilty or a court convicted you of DUI. Before that happens, you have the opportunity -- and right -- to challenge the charges against you. Considering that even a first offense DUI conviction can wreak havoc on your life, personally and professionally, it may be a good idea to do just that. Mistakes by law enforcement officials and violations of your rights could change the direction of your case. You owe it to yourself to at least explore the possibilities.