If you’re reading this page, chances are you recently have been arrested for drunk driving in Maryland and looking for the best Maryland DUI lawyer to help you.
First…take a deep breath…and hear these words: “People make mistakes, we understand that and we’re here to help you through the process, you are not alone.”
We have defended thousands of DUI and DWI clients in Maryland, and we can help you too. A drunk driving arrest is not the “end of the world.” Call attorney Randolph Rice today (410.288.2900) and schedule a free consultation to sit down and get all the facts about what will happen next.
If you have been charged with drunk driving in Maryland, the smart move it to retain a Maryland DUI lawyer to protect your rights and freedom. Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI) are serious criminal/traffic violations and can result in jail, fines, costs, probation and other conditions as ordered by the Court.
Strict enforcement of the DUI and DWI laws in Maryland by law enforcement, State’s Attorneys and Judges can mean bad news for anyone facing a drunk driving arrest and prosecution. If you have been charged with drunk driving in Maryland, speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options and how best to proceed with your case.
If you’ve recently been charged with drunk driving, you may be asking yourself if it’s worth getting a lawyer for a DUI? We may be a little biased, as we are DUI lawyers, but we think that anyone charged with a DUI should get a lawyer. There are a number of valuable and important factors to considers if you have been charged and now considering hiring a lawyer for your case.
A DUI lawyer will investigate and review your case, prepare you for court appearances and evaluate the evidence for trial. (Related Reading: Chances of Winning a DUI jury trial) And, if your case must be tried before a judge or jury, then you lawyer will conduct the trial, ask the questions or witnesses, cross examine police officers and make the legal arguments before the trier of fact.
DUI and DWI charges are very technical and if the police officer or other agencies mishandle evidence or perform procedures improperly, then a lawyer may be able to use this to your advantage in securing a not guilty verdict.
Also, most drunk driving arrests are followed by some sort of administrative penalty for getting behind the wheel of a vehicle with alcohol in your system. Administrative penalties are consequences that a State agency, usually the DMV or MVA, will take against your driver’s license and privilege to drive. Most states, including Maryland, have procedures that a lawyer may pursue to ensure you keep your license and allow you to driver after a DUI arrest. Seasoned lawyers will know how to navigate these steps to keep you on the road and using your car for work or other personal responsibilities.
A DUI lawyer will also speak on your behalf at court appearances. Most people do not like to speak in public or in front of a crown and are worried they may say the wrong thing when they get up to speak before the Judge. Saying the wrong thing can actually get you in more trouble before the judge or prosecutor, thus another reason why it is worth getting a lawyer for a DUI.
If you still have doubts, meet with a couple of DUI and criminal defense lawyers near you and get a feeling for what they can offer you and help your defense. The short term cost of hiring a DUI lawyer is well worth the long term expenses you could face if you don’t get the best possible outcome for your matter (i.e. loss of license, increased insurance rates, jail, high fines, lengthy probation, etc).
Most of the alcohol and impaired driving laws and crimes can be found in the Maryland Transportation Article 21-902. Below are a list of the most common impaired-driving offenses charged in Maryland.
When a police officer arrests an individual under the suspicion of drunk driving, they will typically charge or issue multiple tickets against the driver. This is done for a couple of reasons. The officer wants to make sure he includes the most serious offense (DUI) as well as the lesser offenses of driving while impaired (DWI).
As an example, let’s say you are pulled over and you refuse the breath and blood test, so the officer only has the field sobriety tests as evidence to present to the State’s Attorney. On the trial date, the prosecutor must make a decision as to whether he or she will proceed on the DUI, the more serious offense, or the DWI, the less serious offense. This is why the office has charged you with both offenses, so the prosecutor has options and the ability to still seek a conviction even though there may not be enough evidence to prove the DUI. Since the driver did not take the breath or blood test, there is no BAC to use as evidence or impairment.
The office will also charge drivers with payable citations, such as speeding or negligent driving. This is done to allow the prosecutor to have less serious offenses as leverage to garner a conviction or use as a negotiating tactic at trial when working out a plea deal with the lawyer hired by the drunk driving defendant.
Note: Do not pay any of tickets when charged with DUI, as these will more likely than not be dismissed or nolle prosequi when the trial date arrives.
DUI or driving under the influence is the most serious of the drunk driving crimes in Maryland. If charged with DUI, it is alleged that you operate or attempted to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
The penalties for a DUI are more severe than the DWI crimes in Maryland. When a person is charged with DUI or DWI in Maryland, the State’s Attorney for the County where a person is charged will take over the prosecution.
The State’s Attorney is the prosecuting attorney and represents the State of Maryland (State). The State will evaluate the charges and decide if they are going to continue with the prosecution of choose not to proceed with the charges.
Almost all DUI charges filed by law enforcement will require a Court appearance and the State will look for a conviction if there is probably cause to believe the driver was under the influence.
For the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard of proof for DUI and DWI charges, they must prove two key elements:
A vehicle can be “any device in, on, or by which any individual or property is or might be transported or towed on a highway.” Maryland Transportation Article 11-176. It does not include an electric personal mobility device.
Driving while impaired (DWI) is the lesser of the two categories of impaired driving in Maryland. Under the DWI statutes, there are 3 separate subsections that a person can be charged with:
While each subsection of the DWI laws requires the requirement of driving or attempting to drive, the substance that causes the impairment distinguishes the appropriate charge.
The difference between DUI and DWI in Maryland is the 1) penalty and 2) the elements that must be proven by the State at trial for a conviction. The penalties for a DUI ar typically more severe than a DWI. A first offense DUI carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail whereas a first offense DWI is 60 days in jail.
The elements of a DUI or a bit different than a DWI. For a DUI, the State must prove the level of alcohol intoxication was .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or higher. For a DWI, the State could still prove this charge with a .08 BAC or higher as well as a BAC of .05, .06 or .07 per 210 liters of breath.
If an individual is tested for alcohol concentration and their BAC is .05 or less, there is a presumption that the person was not driving while impaired (DWI). For more information on BAC levels and DUI in Maryland, read Maryland Criminal Procedure Article 10-307.
In Maryland, DUI and DWI are classified as a misdemeanor. If you have questions about misdemeanor DUI charges, contact the Maryland DUI lawyer Randolph Rice today.
The Stet docket or a Stet is a motion filed by the State’s Attorney to indefinitely postpone a criminal case. If the matter is marked Stet, then the State has chosen to refuse prosecutions of the defendant. However, the State and defendant do have the option to recall or ask the court to set the matter in for trial after the case is entered on the stet docket.
The prosecutor can Stet a DUI case in Maryland. However, it does not happen very often as the State will attempt to prosecute most DUI and DWI charges. As an example, in 2017 there were 20,715 DUI and DWI cases filed in the Maryland District Court. Of those, only 440 charges were marked Stet by the prosecutors throughout the State.
The Maryland DUI and DWI laws are complicated and always changing. The bulk of the drunk driving laws in Maryland can be found in Maryland Transportation Article 21-902. There are additional Articles within the law that define terms, some of the most commonly referred to Articles are:
It is not uncommon for a police officer who is investigating a drunk driving case to initiate the use of a preliminary breath test. A preliminary breath test (PBT) is typically administered on a field unit that the officer carries in his vehicle.
A police officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that an individual is or has been driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or while impaired by alcohol may, without making an arrest and prior to the issuance of a citation, request the individual to submit to a preliminary breath test to be administered by the officer using a device approved by the State Toxicologist.
A refusal to take the PBT nor the taking PBT shall prevent or require a subsequent chemical test at the police station. The results of the preliminary breath test are a guide for the police officer in deciding whether an arrest should be made and may not be used as evidence by the State in any court action.
The results of the preliminary breath test may not be used by the State but may be used as evidence by a defendant in a court action. The taking of or refusal to submit to a preliminary breath test is not admissible in evidence in any court action.
In addition to the Maryland drunk driving and impaired driving laws, there are other crimes a person can be charged with if operating a motor vehicle while impaired.
A person may not cause the death of another in Maryland as a result of the person’s driving, operating or controlling a vehicle or vessel in a grossly negligent manner (Maryland Criminal Law Article 2-209).
If a person is found guilty of vehicular manslaughter in Maryland, they face up to 10 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. Vehicular manslaughter is classified as a felony in Maryland.
Maryland Criminal Law Article 2-503, 2-504, 2-505, 2-506 defines the crimes of homicide while DUI, DUI per se and DWI. If a driver causes the death of another person as a result of the person’s negligently driving, operating, or controlling a motor vehicle or vessel while 1) under the influence of alcohol or 2) under the influence of alcohol per se.
They can be charged with homicide by motor vehicle or vessel while under the influence of alcohol or homicide by motor vehicle or vessel while under the influence of alcohol per se. If convicted of homicide by DUI, DUI per se or DWI, a driver is guilty of a felony could be sentenced to 5 years in jail or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both.
If an individual is stopped and arrested for drunk driving in Maryland, and at the time, there are minors in the vehicle, the driver will face stiffer penalties or enhanced penalties if convicted.
These rules and penalties can be found in Maryland Transportation Article 21-902 and 27-101. If a person is found to be DUI with a minor, the penalties are enhanced from 1 year in jail and a $1,000.00 fine for a first offense to 2 years in jail and a $2,000.00 fine.
If a person is found to have driving while impaired with a minor in the vehicle, the penalties are enhanced from 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine to 6 months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine.
Hit and run, also known as failing to remain at the scene of an accident is considered a serious traffic offense in Maryland. For more information about hit and run in Maryland, visit our hit and run page.
In Maryland the MVA can suspend or revoke a driver’s license for a number of reasons. For more information about the driving with a suspended license in Maryland, read the Maryland Transportation Article 16-303 or visit our suspended license lawyer page.
After a drunk driving arrest, it is recommended you seek the guidance of an accomplished and veteran DUI defense lawyer. The first step in finding the best DUI and DWI lawyer is scheduling a meeting with a number of lawyers.
The Law Offices of Randolph Rice offers free consultations for all new drunk driving clients. There are various questions you will want to ask the lawyer when you meet for the first time. Some of the best questions to ask are:
These are common questions that a skilled DUI lawyer will be able to answer and provide a better idea of what may happen in your case.
The consequences and penalties for a drunk driving conviction can vary depending on a number of factors and scenarios. A Maryland DUI lawyer can best advise the potential outcomes and penalties for your drunk driving arrest and charges.
Below are the various penalties and sanctions a driver can face if arrested and convicted in Maryland. For any drunk driving arrest, there are two possible tribunals that a person may face.
The first is the Motor Vehicle Administration and the administrative action they can take against a driver’s privilege to drive. The second is the court system and the penalties and punishment they may impose for a conviction. This may include not just jail but probation, fines and court costs.
Most first time DUI and DWI defendants, who are unable to “beat” the charges, are looking for a probation before judgment. There are various benefits to a probation before judgment (PBJ) for a DUI in Maryland.
A PBJ is not a conviction, instead the Court will strike the conviction before entering it in the record. Also, a driver who receives a PBJ can answer that they have never been convicted is they receive a PBJ. However, a PBJ does come with some down sides to it.
A defendant that receives a PBJ will more likely than not be placed on a period of probation, that probation may be supervised or unsupervised. Supervised probation may require the individual to “report” or check-in with a probation agent or DDMP or a regular basis during the period of probation.
Unsupervised probation will not require the strict reporting and possible substance testing, but the probationee will be required to stay crime free during the period of probation.
Probation can range from 1 day to 3 years for a District Court probation and 1 day to 5 years for a Circuit Court probation. In addition to the benefits already listed for a PBJ, points will not be assessed to a driver’s MVA record if PBJ is granted.
Maryland DUI penalties are stiffer and increase for each subsequent conviction. If convicted of DUI for a first offense, the maximum penalty is 1 year in jail and a $1,000.00 fine.
Since most first time DUI defendant’s will receive a PBJ, then a second arrest will not trigger the enhanced penalties. Only prior “guilty” findings will initiate the enhanced penalty protocol for the State.
For a second conviction, a defendant faces up to 2 years in jail and a $2,000.00 fine. For a third or subsequent conviction, a defendant is looking at up to 3 years in jail and a $3,000.00 fine.
The Maryland driving under the influence per se penalties are the same as the driving under the influence penalties:
If you have questions about the Maryland DUI or DUI per se penalties, contact a DUI lawyer to discuss and explain the potential sanctions in your case.
The Maryland DWI penalties are not a stiff as the DUI penalties, but they too enhance as more convictions are received. For a first time DWI in Maryland, a defendant is facing up to 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine.
A defendant that receives a second conviction, remember PBJ does not count as a conviction, will face up to 1 year in jail and a $500 fine.
A third or subsequent conviction for a defendant will expose the individual to 3 years incarceration and/or a $3,000.00 fine to be imposed by the Court.
Probation is the period time after a conviction or the disposition in Court that allows the judicial system to monitor the driver. The probation period can last from 1 day to 3 years for a District Court probation and 1 day to 5 years for a Circuit Court probation.
Most DUI and DWI probation terms are monitored by the Drinking Driving Monitor Program operated by the Maryland Department of Parole and Probation.
The Motor Vehicle Administration has been empowered to take administrative action against drivers that are arrested and suspected of drunk driving in Maryland. Even if a driver is found not guilty by the Court, the MVA will impose sanctions against the driver’s ability to drive in Maryland.
These rules only apply to licensed drivers in Maryland, but will affect an out-of-state driver as it applies to their privilege to drive on Maryland roads and highways.
The implied consent law says that any driver in the State of Maryland or who is license to drive in Maryland implicitly consents to submit to a breath or blood test if they are suspected of driving while impaired.
This applies when a police officer or law enforcement has reasonable grounds to believe you have driver or attempted to drive after consuming alcohol or other impairing substance.
If an officer does establish reasonable grounds, he will read or have you read a DR-15. A DR-15 is an advice of rights form that explains the consequences of taking, refusing or taking and returning a result from a breath or blood test.
You are not required to take a test in Maryland, however, a refusal may result in a suspension of your privilege to drive. If you elect to take a test, and your results are .07 or less, then there are no administrative penalties against your privilege to drive in Maryland.
If a driver is under 21 and is stopped and charged with DUI in Maryland, they could be facing a mandatory 1 year suspension for a first conviction. In addition to the possible suspension of the driver’s license, the under 21 defendant could be facing a 6 month suspension for violating the alcohol restriction on the driver’s license.
Since 21 is the legal drinking age in Maryland, the Courts and prosecutors do take special note of under 21 arrests for drunk driving. If you or your child has been arrested for drunk driving in Maryland, contact our office today to work on a plan to deal with the issue and for a alcohol education and treatment referral.
A holder of a commercial driver’s licence (CDL) faces a one year disqualification of their license if convicted of driving under the influence or driving while impaired under certain sections of the statute. (21-902 (a), (c) or (d)).
A CDL driver has four issues they must address through a drunk driving arrest and prosecution:
If a driver receives a PBJ, points will not be assessed to the driver’s record. However, is the driver is found guilty and the Judge does not enter a PBJ, then points will be assessed to the driver’s record. The following points will assessed to a driver’s record:
Too many points and the MVA will take action against the driver’s privilege to drive. If during a 2 year period a driver accumulates 3 to 4 points, the MVA will send the driver a warning letter.
If a driver has 5 to 7 points the MVA will require a Driver Improvement Program (DIP) to be completed. 8 to 11 points will result in the MVA suspending the driver’s license and 12 or more points will result in a license revocation.
What is “Prayer Jury Trial?” A jury trial is an option for a defendant in Maryland is one of the charges in their case carries a maximum penalty of more than 90 days.
All DUI and DWI case begin in the District Court of Maryland. There are no jury trials in the District Court and thus the case must be transferred to the Circuit Court to conduct a jury trial.
A jury is 12 individuals selected from the motor vehicle records and voters rolls for the court. The county will summons individuals to appear in Court to be selected as a juror for trials.
If a defendant “prays a jury trial” in the District Court, their case will be heard in the Circuit Court and the defendant has the option of having their case heard by a jury. The State will present evidence and the defendant can present evidence, the jury will deliberate and determine if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
Field sobriety tests (FST’s) are tests performed on the road side by a police officer to determine if there is enough evidence to make a DUI or DWI arrest. In Maryland, the most common FST’s are the:
While these tests are not conclusive, they can be used in Court as evidence that a driver is impaired or under the influence. For more information about this topic, read our page on Field Sobriety Tests.
What are some possible defenses to a drunk driving charge in Maryland. Any fault in the State’s case could case the rest of the evidence to be thrown out by the Court.
That means, if an officer make even a minor mistake, some or all of the remaining facts could be excluded from court and not considered by the trier of fact. Some common defenses used by Maryland DUI lawyers are:
The costs of a DUI in Maryland can be more than just the expense to hire a lawyer. A DUI or DWI arrest can cause your car to be towed and incur expenses for the storage fees from the tow company.
In addition, there are expenses related to substance abuse treatment and education. There some health insurance companies that will pay for the education/treatment. Some of the other expenses and costs of a DUI may include:
The cost of a DUI lawyer is like most other things in life: “you get what you pay for.” The average cost of a DUI lawyer in Maryland is between $1500 and $2500 for a first offense.
That range can varying depending on the need for a MVA hearing or not. Other factors that can dictate the price of a DUI lawyer in Maryland is the facts of the arrest, the need for a trial, or the criminal/driving record of the client.
To learn more about the cost of a DUI lawyer in Maryland, check out our latest post.
A DUI that results in a Probation Before Judgment or Guilty can never be expunged in Maryland. Pursuant to Maryland Criminal Procedure Article 10-105, violations of 21-902 are not eligible for expungement is the defendant received a PBJ.
For more information about expunging a DUI in Maryland, read our page about expungement in DUI and DWI in Maryland.
According to a letter from the MVA, as to February 2016, individual served with an order of suspension after a DUI, including a 45-day temporary license were eligible to get an ID card in Maryland.
This is been discontinued and now pursuant to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration and individual serve with a temporary license, Deere 15a, is authorized to continue to drive for 45 days.
The MVA will, upon request by that individual, issue a duplicate driver’s license so the driver can continue to drive and be able to display a form of photo identification during the 45-day.
The MVA will instruct the driver that they must surrender that duplicate license on the 46 day or at a hearing if one is requested. In addition to a duplicate license, individual issued a temporary license may surrender their license to drive and start the suspension.
Earlier than a 45-day period, an individual then may obtain an ID card or driver’s license, when the ID card is issued the driving privileges also surrendered an individual may not lawfully Drive in Maryland.
If an ID card is obtained from the MVA, the motor vehicle administration will not require the DR-15 temporary license to be surrendered, as the driver may still percent that documentation for the Ignition Interlock system provider.
Recommended Reading: What happens If You Fail Ignition Interlock
The Law Offices of Randolph Rice represent clients who’ve been charged with drunk driving throughout Maryland including the following counties:
In Maryland, there are three variations of the DUI laws that you could be convicted of. Those include driving while under the influence of alcohol, driving while under the influence of alcohol per se, and driving while under the influence of alcohol while transporting a minor. Please see the DUI penalty chart below for the penalties if convicted of a first, second, third or subsequent DUI offense in Maryland.
The DWI laws contain 6 separate sections and individual can be charged with driving while impaired. Those include driving while impaired by alcohol, driving while impaired by alcohol while transporting in minor, driving while impaired by drugs or drugs and alcohol, driving while impaired by drugs or drugs and alcohol while transporting in minor, driving while impaired by controlled dangerous substance, and driving while impaired by controlled dangerous substance while transporting a minor. The Maryland DUI lawyer Randolph Rice has handled and tried hundreds of DUI cases involving these various charges.
Review the DUI penalty chart here for the various penalties if convicted of driving while impaired.
While most people only experience a DUI or DWI charge one time in their life it may be difficult to understand or determine the questions to ask a DUI lawyer. Here are some of the most common questions you should ask a DUI lawyer if you’re facing drunk driving charges in Maryland.
Baltimore County is the county that surrounds Baltimore City and is one of the largest by population counties in Maryland. In 2015 there were just over 2,000 DUI and DWI cases filed in Baltimore County. That number was down from 2014 when the county recorded 2,123 DWI’s charged. This number of DUIds is only second to Prince George’s County and Montgomery County for 2015 and 2014.
If you’re charged in Baltimore County, you should consult and retain an experienced DUI lawyer in Baltimore County as soon as possible. The possible consequences of a DUI or DWI conviction could affect your employment, housing and ability to obtain financial aid. Baltimore County DUI lawyer Randolph Rice is experienced in appearing before the judges in the Catonsville District Court, Towson District Court and Essex District Court. He routinely appears in these various court houses on a daily basis for drunk driving clients. He is keenly familiar with the procedures and patterns of the prosecutors and judges in Baltimore County and understands what must be done prior to trial and during trial for a successful outcome for his clients.
If an individual is arrested for drunk driving in Maryland and the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that they are driving while impaired or driving under the influence, then the police will request that the individuals submit to a blood or breath test. If an individual refuses to take that breath or blood test then the motor vehicle administration may suspend that driver’s license or require them to participate in the ignition interlock program.
If a driver submits to a test and returns a result of .08 and less than .14, the driver may be eligible for a modified or restricted license. If an individual submits to a test and returns a result of .07 or less, there are no administrative penalties, and the driver’s license will not be taken or suspended. With the help of a Maryland DUI lawyer, you may be able to keep your license after a drunk driving charge.
In addition to the initial MVA consequences if a defendant is found guilty, meaning they do not receive a PBJ in court, then the motor vehicle administration will suspend their license or require them to participate in the ignition interlock program. Many clients have questions about requesting an MVA hearing. Each drunk driving arrest is unique and the individual should consult with a Maryland DWI lawyer to determine if they are eligible for an MVA Hearing. In addition, it may not be beneficial to request an MVA hearing and the individual will be required to pay a $150 hearing request fee. That fee may be avoided if an MVA hearing would be futile.
If a driver receives a PBJ, there will not be any points assessed to that driver’s record. However, if the driver receives a guilty finding then points will be assessed to the driver’s record. If convicted and received a guilty for driving under the influence then 12 points will be assessed to the driver’s record if convicted of driving while impaired under Transportation Article 21-902(B)(1), (B)(2), (C)(1), (C)(3) then the driver will receive 8 points on his driving record. If an individual is found guilty of driving while impaired by controlled dangerous substance then the motor vehicle administration will assess 12 points to the driver’s record.
In Maryland, if a person who is convicted of Transportation Article 21-902 within five years after a prior conviction is subject to a mandatory minimum penalty jail for not less than five days. If a person is convicted a third or subsequent offense under 21-902(a) within 5 years then that person is subject to a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 days in jail. Mandatory penalties are mandatory, however, it is not uncommon for a judge in Maryland to overlook the mandatory penalties for a drunk driving conviction.
No, in Maryland you are not required to take the field sobriety tests. Field sobriety test or FST are the tests administered on the roadside by the police officer. They typically include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the walk and turn test and the one leg test. A Maryland DUI lawyer can challenge the FST and may be able to discredit the police officer and the manner they were administered.
These tests are intended to help the police officer establish probable cause to make the arrest. If an individual refuses to take these tests, there are no additional penalties for refusal. However, if an individual refuses to take the tests then they will more likely and not be arrested and taken to the police station to submit to a breath or blood test.
If you’re looking for a Maryland DUI lawyer to assist in your case, contact attorney Randolph Rice today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your options. Drunk driving charges are serious and could result in jail time if the proper precautions are not taken. Even a first offense DUI in Maryland is serious enough to require legal representation at trial.