10 Common DUI Questions

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10 Common DUI Questions

  1. Do I Need a Lawyer?
  • Whether you’re facing license suspension, a fine, or jail time, you want solid competent legal representation in court.
  • The state’s attorney often offers what seem to be appealing plea offers. However, the state’s attorney is not your attorney. They will not offer or explain all possible legal defenses, nor will they educate you on the legal consequences you face as a result of accepting their plea offer. They will not mention or elaborate on the possible MVA ramifications associated with accepting a DUI plea offer and they certainly won’t alert you to deficiencies or mistakes made by the police officers in your case.
  • The consequences of a DUI conviction are severe. Even probation before judgment will remain on your record forever as it cannot be expunged in the state of Maryland.
  • Unless you are a law student or attorney, you don’t know the law and its intricacies, nor do you know how it should be applied in court. Even so, you will be upheld to the same standard as an adequately trained lawyer if you choose to represent yourself.
  1. Do I Have a Right to a Trial by Jury?
  • If the maximum penalty for the offense you are charged with is more than ninety days of incarceration, you have a right to demand a jury trial.
  • A first offense driving under the influence charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Therefore, you are entitled to request a trial by jury.
  • However, a first offense driving while impaired charge carries a maximum penalty of sixty days in jail, so a jury trial would not be granted.
  1. Will My License Be Suspended?
  • If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI or DWI, you were most likely given a temporary paper license by the arresting officer. You are permitted to drive with the temporary license for 45 days. On day 46, if you take no action, your license will automatically be suspended.
  • There are alternative options to fight the suspension being lodged against your driving privilege. You may also request modifications to avoid an outright suspension. Those modifications could include a restricted license or ignition interlock. Each case and facts are different, and an experienced attorney can further advise you of your specific options.
  1. Can a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) Be Used Against Me?
  • No! The preliminary breath test given at the scene is a guide for the police officer to determine if a DUI arrest is appropriate. The results of the PBT are not admissible in court.
  1. What Is the Penalty for a DUI?
  • For a first offense DUI, you face a maximum penalty one year in jail, $1,000 fine, and/or twelve 12 points on your driving record. If a minor was in the vehicle, the maximum penalty is two years and a $2,000 fine.
  • For a first offense DWI, you face a maximum penalty of sixty days in jail, $500 fine, and/or 8 points on your driving record.
  1. What Is the Legal Standard for a DUI Arrest?
  • It is considered a per se violation of driving under the influence of alcohol if the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
  • If a driver’s BAC is 0.05 or less, the presumption is that the driver is neither under the influence of alcohol nor impaired by alcohol.
  • If a driver’s BAC is higher than 0.05 but less than 0.07, there is no presumption based on the driver’s BAC (although it may be used along with other competent evidence to conclude as to the driver’s state of impairment or lack thereof).
  • If a driver’s BAC is 0.07 or higher but less than 0.08, then it is presumed that the driver was impaired by alcohol.
  • If a driver’s BAC is 0.02 or higher, then the BAC is prima facie evidence that the driver was operating a motor vehicle with alcohol in his or her system.
  1. How Long Do I Have to Request an MVA Hearing to Fight My Suspension?
  • If you request an MVA hearing within 10 days of your offense, you are guaranteed an extension of your temporary license until your MVA hearing date.
  • If you request an MVA hearing within 30 days of your offense, you are guaranteed a hearing with MVA but are not guaranteed an extension of your temporary license.
  1. Is a DUI a Misdemeanor or Felony?
  • In the State of Maryland, a DUI is a misdemeanor.
  1. What is Ignition Interlock?
  • An ignition interlock device connects a motor vehicle’s ignition system to a breath analyzer that measures a driver’s alcohol concentration, thereby preventing a motor vehicle from starting if a driver’s BAC exceeds the calibrated setting on the device.
  • In addition to blowing into it to start the vehicle, the device will also ask for random tests while the vehicle is being driven. If the driver doesn’t provide a sufficient sample of breath, the device records a refusal and an alarm will sound until the vehicle is turned off.
  • Once enrolled in the ignition interlock program, you are required to start the vehicle that has the device installed a minimum of 50 times within thirty days. If you have valid justification for not starting your vehicle the required number of times (illness, travel, etc.), you must notify the MVA immediately.
  • There are several different ways you may be found to be in violation of the ignition interlock program. You are allowed three violations, each of which will extend your time in the program by thirty days. On the fourth violation, you will be excluded from the program and your license will be suspended or revoked. However, you can request an MVA hearing to fight against program exclusion.
  1. What Can I Do to Help My Case?
  • Regardless of guilt or innocence, I recommend every client obtain an alcohol evaluation from a certified treatment center. The treatment center will be able to assess what, if any, alcohol counsel is necessary. It is best to follow through and complete all of their recommendations before your trial. If you are found not guilty, the treatment probably wasn’t necessary but didn’t cause any harm. If you are found guilty, it is almost guaranteed that a judge will order you to have an evaluation and complete any recommended treatment if you haven’t done so already.  Some judges will consider placing you on unsupervised probation if you have already completed counseling.
  • Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, it may also be beneficial for you to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and obtain a sponsor and home group.
  • If you are a repeat offender, you may want to consider more intensive inpatient treatment.

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