How Severe Are The Penalties For A First Time DUI In Maryland?
What happened was that Maryland was actually one of the lighter states and then the federal government says, “We pay money for the highways, the fares and it’s not removable.” “We are going to hold that to your federal money if you do not tighten up the law.” So then Maryland went tightening the law. A couple of years ago, Maryland started with it. What happens is, you take a breath test, you take the Breathalyzer test that the officer asks you to take and now your test was out of the 0.15 or more and years ago, that did not matter. It never mattered but now, it really matters because now, 1, 5 and 4 days if you take 1, 5 or 4, you have ninety days of no driving and it is not modifiable, or you have to put the ignition interlock device in your car for a whole year.
If it is your second time, people always ask, “What do I do? Do I take the test or don’t?” For the proof in court, if they do not have a breath test, then they do not get one very important component that they do not have. They may have bad driving or they may have the clues on the field sobriety tests and the interaction with the police officer to hold that against you, but they do not have this test which is a very important component of evidence. So people ask me all the time, “Should I take it or don’t take it”, you have to figure out where you are going to blow, if you are going to blow over 0.15 and you get ignition interlock for a year anyway well then maybe do not take it because then you are just facing one hundred and twenty days and you are going to have the ignition interlock anyway.
Maybe if they do not have the evidence, then that could end up with a better result in court. That is why it is very tricky for someone who is nervous, scared, intimidated by a police officer. DUIs usually happen late at night, you are tired, maybe slightly intoxicated or impaired and it is very hard to make an informed decision at that time. What happens is again, if you test .15 or more, then the penalty is a ninety-day hard, no driving at all or ignition interlock. The only time that you have a chance to go to the MVA and show cause why your license should not be suspended or revoked is if you blow 0.15 or less, in Maryland, this gets you an opportunity to file timely and that is very important. You have to file within thirty days for you to timely request for an MVA hearing.
That is why I tell clients it is so important that you get to see a lawyer right away because you have to know what to do. I tell clients if the test result is at .15 and you are not going to win, and there is no legal issue over the test or over the stop which at the administrative level, there is much less because the burden is significantly less. As a matter of fact, there is not even a probable cause standard and an administrative hearing in Maryland; it is just a mere preponderance. So, for anything less than that, they could stop the car, ask you to take the test. They do not even need to articulate the reasonable grounds like you would normally need in a probable cause hearing and ask you to take the tests.
If you blow over 15, there is no point in wasting your money because the filing fee is $150 and then you have to pay counsel to represent you at the MVA hearing. So I tell people if you blow .15, we will talk about it, but if there is not any real issue that you are going to win, then you might as well just put the ignition interlock device or go ninety days without driving. People often ask, “Does that mean if I don’t drive for 90 days, I can just get back my license again?” The answer is yes, without any other problem, you can take your ninety-day suspension and walk-in afterwards and get your driver’s license back without any other issues.
Should People Reply Honestly When Questioned By The Police At A DUI Stop?
The best thing they could do is to say nothing because you are not obligated to answer any questions. It is just a Terry stop at that point, the constitution protects you but you have not been placed in custody or under arrest but you are in suspicion and you are being interrogated. People are generally scared and do not know what to do. So the best thing they can do is to not answer any question, do no tests, give no information and do not help them at all. If you are going to write me a ticket, write me a ticket; if you are going to arrest me, then arrest me.
Where were you? How many drinks did you have? You should not be answering any questions. You do not have to. All the evidence that the officers have is bad driving and maybe some slurred speech or maybe there are bloodshot watery eyes, but other than that, they may talk about impairment but it does not say the level of impairment. When you go to trial, then you have a lot to work with because you do not have a slam-dunk case like they almost always do in these DWIs, almost every time.
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