As detailed in our previous post, found here, there are some pretty serious criminal penalties associated with being charged with a Maryland DUI or DWI. However, jail is usually not in the cards for most first-time offenders unless it involves an unusually high Blood-Alcohol Count or an accident. If your Maryland lawyer tells you otherwise, there may be some scare tactics being played. Most of our clients hear that during our first consult and breathe a huge sigh of relief.
The goal for first-time offenders is to get the charges reduced for a PBJ or Stet in the criminal aspects of the case and to keep your license intact in the MVA administrative hearings. For most first-time DUI or DWI offenders the MVA administrative hearing consequences, which can include up to a 120 day loss of driving privileges or more, is the harshest sentence imaginable for the crime.
Getting to the MVA Administrative Hearing Process
If you find yourself charged with a Maryland DUI there are some very important things you must understand and do. (Disclaimer: for purposes of this article I’m going to call arrest & citation “arrest,” as it’s treated the same for MVA administrative hearing purposes. However, they have very different criminal ramifications). As Maryland lawyers we often find ourselves playing catch-up with Maryland DUI clients who do not contact us promptly after the arrest. If our clients knew and followed this advice, especially for first offenses, they would be much more likely to keep their driver’s license intact!
What you need to know for every Maryland DUI
- Your driver’s license is confiscated at the arrest and a temporary Maryland Driver’s license (the piece of paper called a “DR-15A” “Officer’s Certification and Order of Suspension”) is given to you – it was probably shoved into your back pocket as you were taken off to jail. That’s your license for now.
- The officer MUST give it to you.
- You MUST carry it around as if it is your driver’s license post-arrest.
- If you blow over a .08, you WILL be suspended on the 46th day after you receive a copy of your temporary license (if you do nothing)
Numbers game- Several numbers you need to know and understand:
- 46 days post-arrest – You are suspended
- 45 days post-arrest – how long your temporary license lasts
- 30 days post-arrest – this is your last day to send a postmarked request for an administrative hearing with the MVA to fight your alcohol suspension, along with a check for $125 (Yes, getting a DUI is expensive). If you don’t, your hearing will be denied absent certain extreme circumstances.
- 10 days post-arrest – Ideal situation. Enough time to find a lawyer and have your lawyer (by the 10th day) request an MVA administrative hearing. This will guarantee that your license will remain intact until you have the MVA administrative hearing because your Maryland lawyer will request a “stay” of the suspension until the hearing can be held.
Is fighting the DUI suspension always the best thing to do?
No, but it depends on the facts of your Maryland DUI violation if you have a prior DUI (with or without conviction), and how badly you need to drive your car. There are a number of good defenses to the MVA administrative hearing, but sometimes it is better to either take the suspension or request the interlock device. For example, if you have a high BAC or accident, it might be better to consent to the Interlock, to show the judge you are willing to accept the consequences and put yourself in a better position to obtain the PBJ in the criminal case.
The bottom line
No matter what you do, it is important to have good counsel. If you find yourself charged with a Maryland DUI, be sure to call your Maryland Lawyer as soon as possible.