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Are There Diversionary Programs for First-Time Drug Offenders?

The Law Office Phillips & Allen PA Nov. 20, 2022

There are all kinds of programs that are available. There are programs through the health department as well as programs through private treatment centers and professionals. I’ve worked with an evaluator who does those for about 27 years now and who’s very knowledgeable about the standards and everything that needs to be done in those. Typically, in one of the marijuana cases, you’re not going to see that many convictions and you’re not going to see that many charges unless somebody is driving very radically.

In my experience, most of those people are also under the influence of something other than marijuana. It’s very rare, at least in Maryland, that I’m seeing somebody getting pulled over for a drug related DUI just based off marijuana. Actually in 27 years, I’ve never had one of those. They’re very uncommon. But again, people who are driving on heavier drugs and prescription drugs are more likely to get affected to that point that’s going to affect their driving that will cause a police officer to notice them and pull them over.

If I Smoked Marijuana Several Days Ago But Not on the Day of An Arrest, Is My Blood Test Still Going to Show Positive?

I never advise somebody to take a drug test for driving in a case like that. Marijuana is generally known to stay in the system for weeks to 30 days. If somebody smoked marijuana a week ago and they were tested today, there’s a good likelihood that they would come up positive.

When you’re looking at marijuana, it’s going to be a lot harder to prove those because marijuana isn’t really known as a more of a DUI type drug that’s going to cause those situations. Marijuana is more likely to be driving 20 miles under the speed limit than 20 miles over the speed limit, so they’ll not get pulled over quite as much unless they’re being targeted for some other reason.

How Public is a Drug Related DUI Arrest?

Criminal convictions are a matter of public records and typically you’ll see most of our district court and circuit court criminal cases in the newspapers. So there’s going to be some publicity to it.

A lot of it depends on what job you have. If you’re in a sensitive field where you’re getting drug tested and you’re not permitted to have these, people can lose their job very easily. Some industries won’t make much of a difference, some places test you, others don’t care! So it really depends on the situation with your job. The charges can affect one person who may be a professional a lot more than somebody who is a worker who works on the lower end of the totem pole.

What’s Going to Happen to My License?

That will vary, and the first factor is what state are you in. If we’re looking at a Maryland resident or looking at 8 or 12 points coming out of this offense, then it can result in a couple of different outcomes. One of the outcomes is going to be a revocation. Typically if you don’t have anything on your record like a previous DUI or a drug DUI you’re going to be able to keep driving but you’re going to have some restrictions to go to work or being able to go to alcohol or counseling class recognized by the MVA as a reason for obtaining a restrictive license.

Typically, somebody isn’t going to lose their license, the one thing that generally results in suspension is refusing the alcohol test. If you refuse an alcohol test you’re looking at definite suspension which the only way you can get out is to have the Intoxilyzer installed in your car that will prevent you from driving if you’ve had anything to drink. Typically if you take a breath alcohol test, then you’re not going to end up being in that situation unless you are very high which would be a 0.15 or over.

What Sort of Hearings Does a Defendant have to Attend for a Drug Related DUI?

You actually face double jeopardy and potentially even triple jeopardy in these types of matters. An officer can certify a suspension for you operating under drugs and alcohol. If he does that, there’s a Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration hearing and typically on those, they have to find that you were driving, that you had taken a test and had a higher result and an officer certification of DRE certification that’s your under the influence certification.

That can kick off preliminary license suspension process and you go to the MVA. The MVA could also get you a second time with the license suspension after a conviction and points. If you end up getting the points on your license, they can bring in the second time and suspension for points, in which case, you have a hearing. You have a right to be heard and if you do not have a very terrible record, you should be able to get work permit to be able to drive back and forth to work.

The other spectrum is the district court. A district court generally has an initial appearance in front of the commissioner which is a short period. If you’re a danger to yourself or others, a bail could be set on it and typically recognizance bails are set up here for DUI cases. Your next time is showing up in front of the district court where you can make a plea or a plea offer from the state or have it tried.

If you’re unhappy with what the district court does or even if you wanted to skip the district court all together, you could ask for a jury trial up in the circuit court. For a jury trial in the circuit court, you’re going to have an initial appearance, you’re probably going to have a motions hearing, you may have a plea date and a trial date. From the single incident, you could end up having about 8 or 9 days in a courtroom of some type.

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