Consequences of a Maryland DUI Charge

If you are accused of driving under the influence in Maryland, the following is what you should know about the potential penalties of a DUI charge.

How Will A DUI Impact Someone’s Driver’s License?

Initially, for everyone whose license is confiscated, it’s a 45-day temporary license. Everyone gets to drive for 45 days from the date of the incident automatically. Then there are three sets of different penalties. There is a low blow penalty, for blowing under .15, so a .08 to a .14, a high blow penalty, for blowing a .15 or above, or a refusal penalty.

Low blow is the easiest penalty to tolerate. It’s a 45-day suspension, which is modifiable, meaning you can get a work permit, drive back and forth to work, school, medical appointments, or alcohol classes, for example. The suspension is only for 45 days, so that’s the lightest penalty against your driver’s license.

The second tier up is the high blow case, the case where an individual blows .15 or higher. In that case, it’s a 90-day suspension of your driver’s license with no modification other than doing ignition interlock for one year. In other words, you can either do 90 days of no driving or a year with a breathalyzer machine, the ignition interlock device, in your car. Finally, there are refusal penalties, which are pretty similar to a high blow. The penalty for refusal is 120 days of no driving or one year with the ignition interlock. From a driver’s point of view, it’s going to feel very similar whether it’s a refusal or a high blow, compared to blowing below a .15.

Diversion Programs for DUIs

Maryland does not have a diversion for DUIs. What we have is probation before judgment for first offenders, which is not quite a diversion in the sense that the charge is still out there and you can’t expunge the arrest, but it’s not a criminal conviction. We have a special DUI court that’s not for first-time offenders; it’s for much more serious cases.

Out of State Driver Consequences

The criminal charges are in Maryland no matter where their home state is because that’s where the offense is alleged to have occurred. On the criminal court end, they’re treated exactly the same as somebody who lives in Maryland. On the driver’s license end there are some pretty significant differences.

Maryland will not take an out-of-state driver’s license. Maryland will suspend that person’s privilege to drive in the state of Maryland for the same period of time that they would have suspended their license if they were licensed in Maryland, meaning 45 days for a low blow, 90 days for a high blow, and 120 days for a refusal. That person’s license will still be valid in their home state, the 48 other states, and the District, but not in Maryland.

If a person was visiting Maryland, it could potentially work out as no penalty against the license. If a person is, for example, a college student or is living in Maryland at the time, even though they are licensed in another state, then a suspension of privilege in Maryland would act just like a driver’s license suspension, but technically they are very different things.

What is a Restricted License?

There are two kinds of restricted licenses. There’s the low blow restricted license, which doesn’t require an interlock. That says you can only drive for limited purposes, like employment, education, alcohol classes, etc. The other type of restricted license is the interlock restricted license.

The interlock restricted license doesn’t limit when, where, or for what purpose you can drive. It just says that you can only operate a motor vehicle that’s equipped with one of these ignition interlock devices. In order to get the modified license, in the case of a low blow, you need to request an administrative hearing. You need to go to one of the judges at the office of administrative hearings and ask them to modify the suspension. If it is a first offense and the person can show a need to drive, and if they show that they’ve enrolled in alcohol classes, then they can usually get that restricted license.

For the ignition interlock restricted license, you don’t need to request a hearing. You can have the interlock installed and go to the MVA to have them issue you a new license. It’s important to talk to a lawyer before deciding what you’re going to do with your license, because sometimes these cases are winnable. If the case is winnable, then it makes sense to request a hearing, because then you may be able to avoid the suspension of your license entirely.