A driver’s license if officially considered a privilege – not a right. This means that the government is allowed to control how and when you can drive. They do this, in part, by requiring licenses to drive in the first place. If you do not have a driver’s license, you are not legally allowed to drive – and if the government decides that you should not be able to drive, they can take your driver’s license away. There are many reasons your Maryland driver’s license might be suspended, and if your license is suspended, you could face penalties for driving with a suspended license. The Baltimore license suspension lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras explain some of the reasons you might have your driver’s license suspended in Maryland.
7 Reasons for a Driver’s License Suspension in Maryland
In Maryland, the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is responsible for issuing licenses and creating many of the rules that deal with when a license can be suspended or revoked. This is also the administration that will issue the suspension and allow you to restore your license when that becomes available. While there are many reasons your license could be suspended, the 7 most common ways your license could be suspended are as follows.
DUI, DWI, and Impaired Driving
Most offenses for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will carry some license suspension. Whether you were convicted of driving while impaired (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) might modify the length of the suspension. DWI generally refers to drunk driving with a blood alcohol concentration just under the “legal limit” of .08%, whereas DUI refers to drunk driving with a BAC over .08%. In cases where your BAC was over .15%, the suspension might be longer.
Repeat DUI offenses may also increase the length of a DUI suspension. Additionally, driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the DUI might yield an increased suspension and block your ability to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for a period of time or on a permanent basis. DUI laws are also usually more strict for drivers under 21 who face a “zero-tolerance” DUI limit of .02%.
Refusing a DUI Breath or Blood Test
When a driver gets on the road in Maryland, the law states that they have already consented to a blood draw or a breath test if they are suspected of DUI. Refusing to take a blood or breath test can have immediate consequences, including a driver’s license suspension. When this happens, the police officer may take your license away immediately (if you are a Maryland driver) and issue you a temporary paper license.
A first-time refusal’s suspension is usually a few months, and a second or subsequent refusal can have a longer suspension. Failing to address the case will mean that your temporary license might expire and you will have no license. You might also be required to use an ignition interlock after a DUI test refusal.
Violating License Restrictions for Ignition Interlocks
Your driver’s license might have restrictions placed on it, such as a requirement to use an ignition interlock to screen for drunk driving after a DUI. If you violate this restriction and drive a different car that doesn’t have the interlock or you have someone else blow into your interlock’s breathalyzer, your license can be suspended.
Driver’s License Points
Maryland, like most states, works on a “point” system for driver’s licenses. Every time you commit a moving violation, the MVA will assess a certain number of points on your license. The default is 1 point, but most common offenses have a higher point value assigned to them, with serious offenses having the highest point value. For example, speeding by 10mph or more carries 2 points, as does running a red light. Speeding by 30mph or more is a 5-point offense, as is racing, aggressive driving, or driving without a license. Some of the most serious traffic offenses, such as drunk driving and committing a hit and run, put 8 points on your license, and vehicular homicide is a 12-point offense.
The MVA will warn you of excessive points when you accumulate 3-4 points, and you will need to take driving courses if you hit 5-7 points. If you accumulate 8-11 points, the MVA will suspend your license, and if you hit 12 points, the MVA will immediately revoke your license. You can usually request a hearing to fight these decisions, and points usually expire after 2 years.
If you are physically unfit to drive, you might face a license suspension or driver’s license revocation. This might happen after a car accident if the MVA thinks that you might no longer be physically fit to drive because of old age, reduced eyesight, or physical disabilities. Typically, the MVA will not find out about serious issues unless you receive serious tickets or are involved in an accident, but any time you develop a physical disability, become blind, or develop certain mental health or drug use issues, you might lose your ability to drive.
Failing to Pay Tickets
If you have a stack of unpaid traffic tickets, the MVA might enforce payment by suspending your license until you pay off the tickets. The courts can send a certification to the MVA for unpaid traffic tickets, and the MVA may use that certification to give you 10 days’ notice and then suspend your license. Talk to a lawyer for help appealing this.
Failing to Pay Child Support
Similar to how the courts can send a certification to ask the MVA to suspend your license for unpaid traffic tickets, they can also ask for a suspension if you don’t pay child support. This is simply a strict enforcement tool since your ability to drive safely is not linked to your ability to pay child support. Instead, the MVA might restrict your license as a way of trying to pressure you into paying overdue child support. Talk to a lawyer for help fighting this kind of suspension.
Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License in Maryland
If you are caught driving with a suspended, revoked, cancelled, or refused license in Maryland, you may be found in violation of Maryland Code § 16-303. Whether your license was a Maryland driver’s license or a license from another state, you might face fines, jail time, and perhaps an extended license suspension. Talk to a lawyer for help fighting these charges and getting penalties reduced.
Call Our Maryland License Suspension Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation
If your license was suspended or you’ve been accused of an offense that could suspend your driver’s license, call the Baltimore criminal defense lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today. Our attorneys might be able to fight to help you keep your license and reduce the suspension period or the fines and other penalties associated with your charges. If you face charges for DUI or other serious driving offenses, our lawyers can help with those charges, too. For your free legal consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.