Can You Drink While on Probation for DUI in Maryland?

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Many first-time DUI offenders are sentenced to probation. This does not mean you beat the charges you faced. If you violate the conditions of your probation you can go to jail. Our criminal defense lawyer is sometimes asked by clients ‘can you drink while on probation in Maryland?’

Whether or not you can drink while on probation in Maryland depends on the conditions set for the probation. However, abstaining from alcohol and drugs is a fairly standard condition of bail in Maryland.

Baltimore DUI defense attorney Randolph Rice discusses probation for DUI in Maryland in this blog.

What Is the Sentence for DUI in Maryland?

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a misdemeanor but you can face jail time. You can be arrested for DUI in Maryland if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. Penalties for a first offense range are a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a yea run jail. A second DUI offense in Maryland is punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a fine of $2,000.

Drunk driving cases are not as straightforward as many people think. Breathalyzers can be inaccurate, police often carry out incorrect procedures and fail to establish probable cause before stopping you. Our Baltimore criminal defense lawyer will look for holes in the prosecution case. We may also try to get a probation order rather than a large fine or incarceration if you plead guilty. By avoiding jail you can live a more normal life than otherwise and may be able to keep your job and many of your old routines. However, it’s important to comply with the conditions of probation.

When a judge orders probation the conditions can be very wide. A judge is most likely to make a probation order for a first-time or a minor offender.

The exact terms of the order are specific to the offender but probation orders often contain the following terms:

  • The offender must pay all fines, fees, and restitution
  • The defendant must obey laws and local ordinances
  • Regular meetings must be held with your assigned probation officer as ordered
  • Permission to change your address or job must be given by the court
  • The court can order you to abstain from drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs
  • The offender must continue to attend school if relevant
  • The defendant should continue to attend his or her job
  • You cannot leave Maryland without permission
  • The defendant must attend all future court hearings
  • You should comply with the rules of Maryland’s ignition interlock program
  • Your probation officer should be notified if you are charged with a new criminal offense
  • You should report for regular drug and alcohol testing
  • Defendants may have to attend a rehab program as a term of probation

Maryland Ignition Interlock Device Regulations

DUI defendants can be ordered to take part in the Maryland ignition interlock program by a district court judge as a condition of probation. You can opt to have an ignition interlock device fitted as an alternative to the administrative suspension of your driver’s license.

An ignition interlock device connects your car’s ignition system to a breath analyzer that measures the driver’s breath alcohol concentration. The program is administered by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. The driver must blow into a mouthpiece. If the device detects alcohol above the set limit from your breath, it will not allow the vehicle to start. The device requests additional tests while the vehicle is on the road. It is not necessary to stop driving while taking a retest.

Since October 1, 2019, all new ignition interlock devices have been fitted with cameras. The camera takes a still image of the driver to ensure the defendant is the person blowing into the device. See our website for a list of approved ignition interlock providers in the Baltimore area.

If an ignition interlock device was fitted as a term of your probation, this is another mechanism to deter you from drinking alcohol while on probation.

If you try to start your car with a BAC greater than .025, you will disable an ignition interlock device. This is a lower blood/alcohol content than Maryland’s drunk driving conviction limit. In other words, your car won’t start if you have consumed a small amount of alcohol. Violations of the program will jeopardize your participation in it and your ability to keep driving. If the program is a condition of probation this could be a probation violation.

The Motor Vehicle Administration points out some household items that contain alcohol may be enough to trigger a violation. The MVA states medications like asthma inhalers, cough medicines or others containing small amounts of alcohol may cause problems as well. The driver will be held responsible if alcohol-based products cause them to violate the system. Your service provider will give detailed instructions on how to prevent ignition interlock failures.

What Happens if you Violate Probation for Drinking and Driving in Maryland?

Probation violations often mean a return to court and the imposition of suspended sentences like jail. The defendant has to attend a hearing to discuss what happened. If you attempted to drive after drinking alcohol and it was picked up by an ignition interlock device, the court is likely to take a dim view of your actions.

There are no hard and fast rules on probation violations. Your probation officer has some leeway in deciding what will happen. Although probation officers sometimes issue warnings, there is no guarantee you won’t be brought back to court and hit with jail time. In some cases, you may escape with an additional fine.

Always err on the side of caution. Never drink alcohol if you are on probation for a drunk driving offense. You should not drink while on probation for a DUI in Maryland.

You have legal rights in probation violation hearings. It’s important to be represented by a Maryland DUI lawyer who can present your side of the story. We can present favorable evidence such as how you have made progress in getting your life back on track, attended counseling or rehab and sought to deal with your issues. A substance containing alcohol like mouthwash or cough medicine can trigger an ignition interlock failure. We can make a powerful case for why the court should give you another chance.

Talk to an Experienced Maryland DUI Defense Attorney

Baltimore criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice has assisted drivers charged with DUI and other offenses involving alcohol for over a decade. He worked as an Assistant State Attorney at the Baltimore County State Attorneys Office before setting up his own firm. At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we represent defendants at bond hearings and hearings over possible probation violations as well as at every stage in the criminal process. See our questions about DUI charges in Maryland or read our 5-star reviews on Google. Please contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras after a DUI arrest or for any other criminal or personal injury matter at (410) 288-2900.


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