Last Updated: 10.27.2020
Many clients don’t want to go to the expense of hiring a Maryland DUI lawyer. They may think that they will automatically be given a Probation Before Judgement (PBJ) for their first time Maryland DUI offense. This even includes some other non-DUI lawyers.
This line of thinking is very misguided.
We hear this all the time from clients who are charged with their first time DUI in Maryland. We also hear that they went to their family’s lawyer who practices trusts and estates law or business securities law or tax law. That told them, “Don’t worry, I can handle it, it’s only your first time DUI in Maryland.”
What a Maryland DUI Lawyer Does?
Why should I pay for a Maryland DUI lawyer? Can’t I represent myself for a first time DUI in Maryland?
You certainly can. But it is an extremely bad and dangerous idea.
A Maryland DUI lawyer:
- evaluates the evidence
- knows various treatment programs
- helps you make an informed decision about trial issues
- most importantly knows the judge
The last point isn’t about knowing the judge in the golf-buddy sense. Rather in the sense that a Maryland DUI lawyer will know the judge’s tendencies in a particular case. This will help you avoid judicial pitfalls.
Not every first time DUI in Maryland is the same. You need an experienced lawyer who knows the nuances of Maryland DUI laws to combat the State’s Attorney.
If you head to court Pro Se (representing yourself), you are facing an experienced Maryland lawyer (the Assistant State’s Attorney). They have a huge advantage over you in that they:
- know the rules of evidence
- went to law school
- while they might be young, has probably prosecuted and prepared hundreds of Maryland DUI cases
These factors don’t even begin to contemplate the MVA administrative hearing process.
Why hire a DUI lawyer instead of your general practitioner?
My family’s lawyer quoted me $500 for my first time Maryland DUI, why shouldn’t I hire him/her?
Any Maryland lawyer may do a wonderful job representing you in 80% of first time Maryland DUI cases. But if you have followed our blog you know that DUI is an area of the law that is complex. There are numerous technical areas where the State can slip (often to your benefit).
See here, here, and here for examples.
If you haven’t hired an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer, you might miss an opportunity to knock that came down to a moving violation, or to a lower charge (from “the A” to a “B” violation).
These differences seem small. But it adds up. It is the difference between, zero points, 8-points, and 12-points on your driving record. Along with any administrative sanctions a good Maryland DUI lawyer can avoid.
Do you want to take that chance?
If it is My First Time DUI in Maryland, am I guaranteed a PBJ?
My friend got a Maryland DUI, and he said that a first time Maryland DUI offender is guaranteed a PBJ?
Yes, many first time Maryland DUI offenders do ultimately get PBJ’s (Probation before judgment). However, this is far from guaranteed.
Here are some factors that will play into you obtaining a PBJ for a first time Maryland DUI:
Location of the offense.
Harford County does NOT give away Probation Before Judgment on Maryland DUI cases.
There is a Baltimore City judge who does not give Probation before Judgment for any offender with a refusal or a high BAC as a blanket rule.
The nature of the offense.
Whether it be high BAC, accidnet, other prior criminal history, prior history of moving violations (speeding tickets, etc).
Have you done any alcohol rehab?
Having the “complete package” for the judge is important. The judge wants to see effort that you won’t reoffend, if the judge offers you a PBJ.
In addition to the above factors, don’t you want to hire a lawyer that won’t just settle for a PBJ?
Don’t you want someone who will fight for a dismissal of the charges if there are valid technical reasons for it?
Regardless, there is no one particular factor that guarantees a first-time Maryland DUI offender a PBJ. But hiring a Maryland DUI lawyer is a good first step that will put you in the best possible position to obtain that Probation before judgment.
First time DUI in Maryland: If I’m not guaranteed a PBJ, am I going to jail?
My lawyer told me I could go to jail if I don’t hire him. Even for a first time Maryland DUI. Is that true?
While it’s possible to go to jail for a first time DUI in Maryland, it is unlikely.
We have heard stories of a Maryland DUI lawyer telling clients they will go to jail if they don’t hire that particular lawyer. That’s ethically and morally wrong.
That being said, the consequences NOT INCLUDING jail time are great. This includes:
- insurance increases
- loss of driver’s license
- having a criminal history FOREVER
With that being said, it is possible to end up in cuffs for a first time DUI in Maryland. There are a couple of factors that go into that equation to consider:
- Was there an accident?
- If so, did the accident have injuries?
- What jurisdiction/judge is the case in front of?
- Some judges give jail time in exchange for PBJ‘s for “bad” first time Maryland DUI offenses. Which might be a good trade-off, depending on the case. Some judges just like to send people to jail.
- Do you have any prior traffic and/or criminal offenses besides your first time Maryland DUI?
The Bottom Line on a First time Maryland DUI
There is no bright-line rule for first time Maryland DUI offenses. The bottom line is that you should find yourself a Maryland DUI lawyer. One who has experience both prosecuting and defending hundreds of Maryland DUI cases.
Even if it is not us, please don’t make the mistakes of hiring any old Maryland lawyer who says they can represent you for $500. You’ll get what you pay for.
Even worse, please don’t try to represent yourself. It is a one-way ticket to trouble. Don’t take a chance.
If you do find yourself charged with a first time Maryland DUI (or second, third or fourth for that matter), please put us on speed dial. Call your favorite Maryland DUI lawyer at (443) 559-4384, visit our contact page, or fill out the form below.