Posted in DUI DWI on August 13, 2017
Make sure you contact our office if you’ve been charged and need legal representation.
Immediately. A DUI has many negative consequences which require professional assistance. Any criminal charges are serious but Driving Under the Influence (DUI) contains more than the usual pitfalls. Not only is there possible fines and jail time, but there are also administrative hearings, possible loss of license and if you drive for a living or need to drive to make a living, loss of job. As it is on your record, it can even affect your ability to obtain housing.
A DUI charge means you have been accused of having a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or greater. If the blood alcohol level is between .o4 and .o7 percent, this is considered driving while intoxicated or a DWI.
If you are convicted of an impaired driving offense, you face both criminal penalties and license sanctions. They are as follows:
For a first offense, you face up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Twelve (12) points will be assessed on your driving record and your license may be revoked for up to six (6) months.
For a second offense, you face a $2,000 fine and up to two years imprisonment (with a mandatory minimum of five days). Twelve (12) points will be assessed on your license and your license may be revoked for up to one year.
For two convictions within five years, a mandatory period of suspension will be followed by a minimum required period of participation in the Ignition Interlock Program.
You may be required to participate in an alcohol abuse assessment and program.
For a first offense, you face up to a $500 fine and up to two months imprisonment. Eight (8) points will be assessed on your driving record, and you face a 6-month license suspension. If this conviction is the result of a driver under 21, you will face a 1-year suspension.
For a second DWI offense, you face up to a $500 fine and up to one year imprisonment. Eight (8) points will be assessed on your driving record, and you face a license suspension of 9 to 12 months. If this conviction is the result of a driver under 21, you will face a 2-year suspension.
The penalties are substantially higher if you are transporting a minor at the time of the offense or for a third offense.
Generally, the higher alcohol level you are found to have the greater, penalties, administrative action, fines and consequences will be for you.
The cases are normally heard in the District Court of Maryland in the county where the citation was given. There are sometimes more than one District Court in a county, so make sure that you have the correct address.
The District Court of Maryland is different from the Federal District Court of Maryland, of which there are only two: one in Baltimore, MD and one in Greenbelt, MD. You would only have to go there if the charge occurred on Federal property, including National Parks.
The administrative penalties, which include license restrictions and points on your record are assessed and administered by the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). However, the number of points will be based on what you are or are not convicted of, so they are connected.
If you wish to appeal any administrative penalties, these are separate from the criminal case. Penalties can include suspension of license, revocation of license or ignition interlock program. Refusal to submit to the BAC test, when arrested will result in a suspension of your license for one year.
The ignition interlock program means that an electronic device is placed on your vehicle’s ignition system, so your blood alcohol level is tested before you start the car. If your level is above the allowed level, you will not be able to start the car. In addition, the failing test will be reported with further legal consequences that could include jail. You will also have to pay a monthly fee to have this service on your automotive vehicle
While it is not required to have an administrative hearing on any MVA penalties, it is required that you show up to Court for your trial date. Unlike speeding tickets, you must appear in court to face the charges. Failure to do so could result in an order to find you, arrest you and have you put in jail until you can appear before a Judge to explain why you weren’t there.
You do not have to retain an attorney when you do appear in court, but the Judge will certainly ask why you do not have one given the seriousness of the matter. You may request the case be postponed because you are without a lawyer.
The judge is not required to give you a continuance but will most likely do so if it is your first time in court on the charge. However, the judge is far less likely to postpone the case if it is the second or third time you have appeared without a lawyer. Without an attorney, the court may not think you are taking this matter seriously.
On the other side, your case will be prosecuted by an assistant state’s attorney for the county. They will have the case file with them, as well as the arresting officer who may be their only witness. If there was an accident, injuries or death connected with DUI charge, there will be more people involved, more urgency, and possibility of facing increased penalties.
Usually the assistant state’s attorney will wish to speak to you or your representative prior to the trial to determine what you plan to do, whether you wish to plead innocent or guilty and other administrative details prior to trial. After the trial, if you plead or are found guilty by the Court, the state’s attorney may have recommendations for your sentence, but ultimately the Judge makes the final decision.
Because the criminal penalties could be more than six months in jail, under Maryland law, you could request a jury trial. This generally does not happen, since it is far more complicated and involved to put on a jury trial in the Circuit Court (Maryland District Courts do not have the jurisdiction to have jury trials, so your case would be transferred to the Circuit Court for the County), as well as being far more expensive. The difficulty in representing yourself in the District Court is nothing compared to the complexity of a jury trial.
Outside of general expertise of a being an officer of the court, there are multiple reasons to hire a lawyer as soon as possible once you are charged.Some of them are as follows:
Any aggravating factors, such as previous charges or convictions, particularly in the last five years, greatly increase the risk to you of jail time/length of sentence and loss of your license. It also increases the probable necessity of a lawyer to guide you through the process with a resolution most favorable to you.
To summarize, because of the legal and economic impact of a DUI charges, you should consider obtain legal representation as soon as practical after your arrest to deal with all the issues that will arise.
For a more detailed response to any questions on DUIs or any other situations while driving impaired, please contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice for a consultation on your matter. We will be happy to assist you.