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What is the Penalty for DUI in Maryland

What is the penalty for DUI in MarylandIf you’ve been charged with DUI (driving while under the influence) in Maryland, one of the first questions you may ask is: What is the penalty for a DUI in Maryland?  That is a common question because you want to know what may happen to when you go to Court.  You also may have questions about your license and what kind of penalties will you face in regards to your driving privilege. Some other common questions clients ask are; Will I receive points on my Maryland driving record?  Will I be placed on probation if I am convicted? How can I avoid jail time? What should I do between the arrest and the trial date to improve the outcome?  Will I be placed on probation for a DUI?

We hope to answer all of those questions as well as many other issues you may not realize you have if charged with DUI in Maryland.

DUI Laws in Maryland

The first thing to consider is in Maryland there are various sections of the drunk driving laws that you can and will be charged with if stopped and the police suspect you have been drinking.  Under the Maryland Transportation Article 21-902 there are multiple sections that the police will charge and you may think that some of the charges are redundant.  The four sections of the transportation article are 21-290(a), 21-902(b), 21-902(c), and 21-902(d). Each section is specific to the allegations made by the State:

  • 21-902(a) Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol;
  • 21-902(b) Driving While Impaired by Alcohol; (this is the lesser offense and charged in most DUI cases)
  • 21-902(c) Driving While Impaired by a drug, drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol; and
  • 21-902(d) Driving While Impaired by a controlled dangerous substance.

They police will typically charge you with 21-902(a) (DUI) and 21-902(b) (DWI) in almost all DUI cases.  If the police believe drugs or controlled dangerous substance contributed or are the cause of impairment they will charge with you 21-902(c) (drugs) or 21-902(d) (CDS).  But for this article, we are going to focus more on 21-902(a) offense.

DUI is the more serious of the drunk driving laws in Maryland.  It is more serious because they consider the level of intoxication when the State prosecutes the case and it carries the most serious penalties absent of a charge where a minor is present in the vehicle.  The DUI laws and penalties as imposed when the level of intoxication for your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or above.  That is not to say you can’t be charged and convicted of DWI if you BAC is below .08 or you show signs of impairment that indicate to the Court or a Jury that your ability to drive is impaired.

DUI Penalties in Maryland

We have a DUI & DWI penalties page that you can visit to read more about the various penalties.  For this article, we are going to just outline the penalties for the DUI or 21-902(a) violations.  If you are convicted of DUI 21-902(a) the maximum penalties are:

  • 1St offense: $1000.00 fine and 1 year in jail, or both;
  • 2nd offense: $2,000.00 fine and 2 years in jail, or both; and
  • 3rd or subsequent offense: $3,000.00 fine and 3 years in jail, or both.

Another section of penalties can come into play if you are charged with DUI while transporting a minor. That means if you are stopped and arrested for DUI and you have a minor, someone under 18 years old, in the vehicle at the time, the State can proceed on section 21-902(a)(3).  The penalties for driving while under the influence while transporting a minor are:

  • 1st offense: $2,000.00 fine and 2 years in jail, or both;
  • 2nd offense: $3,000.00 fine and 3 years in jail, or both; and
  • 3rd or subsequent offense: $4,000.00 fine and 4 years in jail, or both.

Guilty or Probation Before Judgment (PBJ)

Guilty versus a PBJ (probation before judgment) can be confusing. In Maryland there is a disposition entitled PBJ or Probation Before Judgment.  A PBJ means you are not convicted and the MVA will not assess points to your Maryland driving record.  This is of particular importance because your insurance company will not be able to see those points on your record, thus your insurance rates may not increase.  You also will not receive points and thus the MVA will not take further administrative action against your privilege to drive in Maryland based on points.  They can still take action if you have a prior DUI.

Points on Your Driving Record After a DUI

No one wants points on their MVA driving record.  Points can lead to driver improvement classes, suspensions or even a revocation of your license in Maryland.  If you receive a PBJ in your case, the MVA will not assess points to your driving record.  However, if you receive a “guilty” then you will be assessed points.  The number of points depend on the section of the DUI laws you are convicted under. Below is the chart indicating the number of points you will receive for a conviction:

  • 21-902(a) or 21-902(d): 12 points;
  • 21-902(b) or 21-902(c): 8 points.

Probation for a DUI in Maryland

Will I be placed on probation for a DUI in Maryland?  That is a questions most clients ask and the simple answer is, if you are found guilty or receive a PBJ (probation before judgment), then yes, you will be placed on probation. In Maryland, a District Court Judge can place you on a maximum of 3 years of probation and a Circuit Court Judge can place you on 5 years of probation.  That probation can be supervised or unsupervised and will be monitored by either the Maryland Division or Parole and Probation or DDMP (drinking driving monitor program).  The Judge can order you complete a number of tasks or conditions of probation and we have outlined what the Judge can order in our article on Probation in Maryland.

Will I Lose My License After a DUI in Maryland?

Will I lose my license or privilege to drive in Maryland after a DUI?  That all depends on what you did during the DUI arrest and your history with the MVA and your driving record. If you took the breath or blood test and you blew or your results was .07 or less, then there will not be any sanctions imposed by the MVA.  In other words, the MVA will not suspend your license.  If you took the test and your results were between .08 and less than .15, then you could elect to have a MVA hearing and argue for a restricted license or you could accept a suspension of your license. If you took the test and the results were .15 or more, then you have limited options. You could elect a MVA hearing and argue that the MVA has not met their burden to suspend your license.  There are very limited grounds for this and you should consult a DUI attorney before going this route.  You could accept a suspension and the length of that suspension will be dictated by your history with the MVA.  You could also elect the participate in the ignition interlock program for one year.  There are different costs associated with each option and you should consult an attorney for the best option.

What is Ignition Interlock?

Ignition Interlock (“II”), also known as the “blow and go,” is a device placed in your vehicle by an Ignition Interlock service provider that monitors the driver’s breath for the presence of alcohol.  The device is connected to the battery and ignition for the vehicle and has the ability to prevent the vehicle from starting or will shut down the vehicle if alcohol is detected.

Should I Elect an MVA Hearing After a DUI?

An MVA hearing can be elected in every scenario after a DUI, but you would not need to elect a hearing if you took the test and your results were .07 or lower.  An MVA hearing would be elected if you want to challenge the MVA’s suspension of your license or if you require a special condition concerning ignition interlock.  Consult and attorney if you have questions about an MVA hearing and if it would be beneficial in your case.

What do I do after a DUI?

The smartest thing to do after a DUI is to contact a DUI lawyer in the area where you were charged.  In Maryland, there are four main areas of the State when it comes to lawyers and their experience with the Courts.  There is Western Maryland, Central Maryland, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  There are attorneys that will tell you they go all over the State and handle cases in every jurisdiction. They may do this, but they are also spread so thin that they don’t develop a reputation in every Court and they also don’t learn the tendencies of each Judge and State’s Attorney in the State.  As an example, my office represents clients in Central Maryland as well as Worcester County, which includes Ocean City and Snow Hill Courthouses.  The Central Maryland counties would include; Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Howard County, Harford County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County and Cecil County.

As soon after the DUI arrest as possible, make an appointment with an attorney to discuss your case.  Most drunk driving lawyers, such as us, will offer a free consultation. That typically last 30 minutes and during that meeting we discuss the facts of your case as well as your background and what you should do from this point forward to mitigate and prepare for trial.  When we talk about “Mitigate,” we are talking about what steps should you take to address the mistake you may have made and how to ensure the Court and State know you learned a lesson and this will never happen again.

If you would like to schedule a free confidential consultation, call the office at (410) 288-2900 or email attorney Randolph Rice as soon after the DUI arrest as possible.

Attorney Randolph Rice is a former Assistant State’s Attorney.  He is recognized by Super Lawyers as a Maryland Rising Star for multiple years in a row. He is ranked by Avvo, an online attorney ranking site, as a 10 out of 10 Superb Rating.  He is also Lead Counsel Rated and members of the American Bar Association, Maryland State Bar Association, Baltimore County Bar Association, and the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association.