Many clients don’t want to go to the expense of hiring a Maryland DUI lawyer OR think that they will automatically be given a Probation Before Judgement (PBJ) for their first time Maryland DUI offense (this includes other non-DUI lawyers). This line of thinking is misguided. We hear this all the time from clients who are charged with their first time Maryland DUI. Or we will hear that they went to their family’s lawyer who practices trusts and estates law or business securities law or tax law; and that Maryland lawyer said, “Don’t worry, I can handle it, it’s only your first time Maryland DUI!”
What a Maryland DUI lawyer does?
Why should I pay for a Maryland lawyer – Can’t I represent myself for a first time Maryland DUI?
You 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, and most importantly knows the judge (not in the golf-buddy sense, but in the sense that a Maryland DUI lawyer will know the judge’s tendencies in a particular case and will help you avoid judicial pitfalls). Not every first time Maryland DUI is the same and 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) on the other side of the table who knows the rules of evidence, went to law school, and 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 Maryland 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?
While any Maryland lawyer will do a wonderful job representing you in 80% of first time Maryland DUI cases, if you have followed our blog you know that DUI is an area of the law that is complex and 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). While these differences seem small, it adds up and is the difference between, Zero points, 8 points, and 12 points on your driving record, plus any administrative sanctions a good Maryland DUI lawyer can avoid.
DO YOU WANT TO TAKE THE CHANCE?
If it is My First Time 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)
- The judge – 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 (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, because 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 Maryland lawyer that won’t just settle for a PBJ but rather fight for a dismissal of the charges if there are valid technical reasons for it? Regardless, there is no one particular factor guarantees a first time Maryland DUI offender a PBJ. But hiring a Maryland DUI lawyer that will put you in the best possible position to obtain that Probation before judgment is a good first step.
First time Maryland DUI: 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 Maryland DUI, it is unlikely that a first time Maryland DUI offender will receive jail time. 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, like insurance increases, loss of driver’s license, having a criminal history FOREVER, fines, costs, and probation. With that being said, it is possible to end up in cuffs for a first time Maryland DUI. There are a couple of factors that go into that equation to consider:
- Was there an accident? 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 who has experience both prosecuting and defending hundreds of Maryland DUI cases. 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 get what you pay for). Even worse, please don’t try to represent yourself, it’s 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 and call your favorite ENlawyers.