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Although the drunk driving law is the same throughout the state, each county handles drunk driving cases a bit differently. For that reason, it is important that you understand the local processes and procedures, and talk with an attorney with experience defending impaired driving cases in the county where you were arrested:
Select the Maryland county where you were arrested:
If you were arrested for drunk driving and now face a prosecution in Maryland, you are probably worried about the consequences of this serious criminal allegation. You don’t want to do any time in jail, and you are very concerned about having your license suspended and having a criminal record. You may wonder what impact this charge will have on your family, your career and your future. If you are like most people who face a Maryland DUI / DWI, you are probably a little intimidated by the court process, and overwhelmed by the complexity of the law.
You have every right to be cautious because you face a life-altering allegation. It is smart to take some time now and do your research and due diligence and make sure that you make the best decisions in your case, starting with which attorney you choose to defend you.
Under Maryland DUI / DWI Law, it is illegal to drive a vehicle if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This means, essentially, that if your ability to drive is lessened in any way because of alcohol or drugs, then you are breaking the law. Maryland uses both the acronyms DUI and DWI, which mean “driving under the influence,” and “driving while impaired,” respectively.
The legal limit for alcohol in Maryland is 0.08 percent alcohol concentration. This means that if you are at or above 0.08 the state does not need to prove that you were impaired because the law presumes it to be so. It does not mean that if you are under 0.08 percent that you are safe from conviction. For people under 21 years old, the legal limit for alcohol is 0.02 percent.
Maryland has special drunk driving laws that apply to DUI / DWI conduct resulting in death and serious injury, including homicide.
Maryland makes it a separate crime to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle.
The Maryland DUI / DWI penalties are prescribed in ranges. The severity of the punishment, and the length of the jail sentence depend on whether you have prior convictions and whether there was an accident. The length of potential license suspensions resulting from a conviction increases based on number of prior offenses and suspensions.
In addition to the criminal and driving penalties, you should also be aware of what “collateral consequences” will affect your life. For example, your travel to other countries could be prohibited or restricted. As an example, Canada makes it very difficult for US citizens with DWI convictions to enter their country. If you are not a US citizen, you could face deportation or exclusion. If you have a professional license such as a medical or dental license, a real estate license and any number of others, you may have very specific reporting requirements that you will need to meet. A Maryland DWI conviction can also have a terrible influence on your ability to get and keep life, auto, health and disability insurance, and could result in your policies being canceled or premiums raised. A good MD DWI attorney will guide you through not only the criminal and civil legal aspects, but also counsel you on what to do to protect everything in your life from the reach of this ordeal.
Maryland DWI License Suspensions and Interlock Devices
In addition to all of the above, you need to be aware that there is a civil license suspension aspect to Maryland DUI / DWI cases. Maryland Implied Consent Law dictates that you must submit to a chemical test if an officer asks during a DWI investigation. If you refuse, you will lose your privilege to drive unless you request a hearing and win.
|WARNING: You must request a hearing by filing a written request within 10 days of arrest.|
If you request a hearing to challenge the suspension the judge will have to decide several things, including whether you actually refused to take the chemical test for alcohol or drugs. It is important to have an attorney represent you at this hearing and to help prepare you for the ordeal.
In certain cases, you may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. This breath machine can be annoying and embarrassing. A local attorney will be able to advise you as to whether you might be required to have one after he or she learns to facts of your case and your history. Make sure any attorney you hire is well-versed in the Maryland ignition interlock laws.
There is a common misconception that Maryland drunk driving cases are hopeless, and that there is no use investigating or fighting the charges. This is a myth, and there is a lot that could result in your case being dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. For example, did you know that Maryland DUI chemical testing is not an exact science, and in some cases it can be grossly misleading. The process is prone to mechanical and human errors. Without an experience attorney investigating your case you may never know if there was something there that could have exonerated you.
There are many other things that can, and often do, go wrong with the State’s case. For example, they might have evidence chain of custody issues, witness credibility or availability issues, or legal issues that prevent them from being able to prove that you are guilty. Without an attorney there is a greatly diminished chance of discovering any relevant issues, let alone being able to work them to your advantage.
You owe it to yourself to consult with an experienced Maryland DUI / DWI lawyer to see whether you have a case. Most lawyers in this area offer free initial consultations, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You will feel much better with the Maryland DUI / DWI court process if you at least contact a lawyer and talk it over before making any important decisions that can change the rest of your life. There is too much at stake to bury your head and pretend that this will go away by itself, or that it’s not that serious.