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Penalties

The penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances in Maryland are severe. If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI, you face suspension of your driving privileges, excessive fines, points on your motor vehicle record, probation, and even jail time. A conviction for DUI or DWI can also carry with it other penalties as well, such as increases in your insurance premiums, loss of professional licenses, and loss of future employment or other opportunities due to your criminal record. In some cases, you may risk a complete loss of your insurance coverage, as well.

Suspension of License 

At your administrative hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), a judge will determine the length of time for which your license will be suspended. The OAH then notifies the MVA, who updates your motor vehicle record (MVR) accordingly. The following table lists the statutory guidelines for suspensions of driving privileges that the judge must follow.

BAC

First Offense

Subsequent Offense

DWI .07 – .08 %

Up to 60 days

Up to 1 year

DUI .08 – .15 %

45 days

90 days

Extreme DUI .15 % or higher

90 days

180 days

Refusal to submit to a chemical test

120 days

1 year

In addition to suspension of your driving privileges, you may also receive points on your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). For DUI (.08% BAC or higher), you face a penalty of 12 points on your MVR. For DWI (.07% to .08% BAC), you face a penalty of 8 points on your MVR. Excessive points on your MVR may result in suspension or revocation of your driving privileges. Many first time offenders may be able to avoid these added points to their records or achieve restricted driving privileges, which allow you to travel to work or to install an interlock system in your vehicle.

An interlock device is a machine that is installed in your vehicle by a licensed automotive shop. The interlock device requires you to blow into the machine in order to test your breath for the presence of alcohol before you start your ignition. In addition, the machine will signal for you to blow into the device periodically while your vehicle is in operation. If alcohol is detected, the ignition will shut down. For refusal to submit to a breath test, you may be able to avoid suspension of your license if you agree to install an interlock device on your vehicle for a minimum of 1 year. The device will cost you an installation fee, plus around $70 per month to operate. Therefore, you must decide whether you would prefer to lose your license for 120 days or pay to have the device installed for 1 year. In making this decision, it is important to note that if the interlock device detects alcohol on your breath even once, the MVA may suspend your license for 120 days anyway.

Criminal Penalties 

In addition to suspension of you driver’s license and points on your motor vehicle record, you also face stiff criminal penalties, including jail time and fines. The following table lists the criminal sanctions you may face for a DUI or DWI conviction.

Penalty

DUI (.08 % or higher)

DWI (.07% to .08%)

1st Offense

2nd Offense

1st Offense

2nd Offense

Jail Term

1 year

2 years

60 days

1 year

Fine

$1,000

$2,000

$500

$500

Criminal penalties for DUI or DWI in Maryland are severe. For first time offenders, sentencing judges may sometimes order a probationary period in lieu of jail time (see “Probation Before Judgment” section below). If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI, you should consult an experienced DUI attorney who can fight to reduce your criminal penalties.

Probation Before Judgment 

It is possible for first-time offenders to avoid many of the harsh penalties that accompany a DUI or DWI conviction by receiving probation before judgment (PBJ). A PBJ is not a guilty verdict. In fact, it is neither a guilty nor a not guilty verdict. As such, it cannot be used against you in a later DUI or DWI proceeding. If the judge orders a PBJ, you may avoid the points on your license, fine, and jail sentence that are typically imposed if you are found guilty of DUI. Therefore, if you are a first-time offender or it has been a significant period of time since a prior DUI offense, you may wish to seek a PBJ. A judge is prohibited from ordering a PBJ if you have received probation before judgment within the past 5 years. A judge will order you to take some form of alcohol education or awareness classes if a PBJ is granted. Therefore, when seeking one, it is a good idea to complete alcohol education courses before your trial date in an attempt to gain the judge’s goodwill.