Published on 2/1/2022, 7:41:00 PM
What is a Probation before Judgment in Maryland DUI case?
A probation before judgement, or "PBJ" is a unique disposition for a criminal case in Maryland. When issuing a Probation before Judgement, a Judge actually strikes a person's conviction and places them on probation before making a guilty finding. This would mean a person was never convicted of that criminal offense, as there is no guilty finding from the guilty plea or dui trial. In DUI/DWI cases a PBJ has the important effect of keeping the points off a persons driver's license at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. To take advantage of a PBJ, under Maryland law, a person must give up their right to appeal the case, because there is no functional guilty finding to appeal.
How to do I get a PBJ in my DUI case?
Typically a Probation before Judgement or "PBJ" has to be earned by a person by taking appropriate steps before their trial, like:
- Enrolling in treatment;
- Enrolling in ignition interlock, if applicable;
- Engaging in community service, and;
- Staying out of trouble pre-trial;
Most DUI/DWI Defendants are able to receive a PBJ on their first offense, if they follow these guidelines.
Common terms for a PBJ on a DUI.
A Probation Before Judgment carries a probationary sentence. There are two major types of probation in Maryland, a supervised probation, and an unsupervised probation. The major difference between these two types of Maryland probations would be the requirement to report, or not to have to at all.
For a supervised probation in Maryland, a person may have to report to a probation agent, and/or the drunk driver monitoring program (DDMP). For an unsupervised probation in Maryland, a person would not have to report to anyone.
Many Maryland DUI Probation before Judgement or "DUI PBJ" sentences require supervised probation through DDMP for terms of 12-24 months. Common conditions include:
- Report to your agent.
- Maintain employment or participate in school
- Notify your agent of new charges
- Notify your agent if you move
- Notify your agent if you are going to leave the state
- Complete substance abuse treatment as directed by your agent
- Totally abstain from abusive use of prescription pills and/or alcohol (This would be random drug testing)
Judges also suspend jail time when they issue a Probation before Judgement or "PBJ", so a probation violation could carry incarceration.
How long would my probation be?
Most DUI/DWI probations end up being less than the maximum possible length. Having said that, maximum probation lengths are:
- For a District Court Probation, three (3) years.
- For a Circuit Court Probation, five (5) years.
What if I violate probation with my PBJ?
If you are alleged to have violated your probation, your PBJ could be striken, or taken away. Additionally, you could face incarceration based on suspended jail time that was issued with your PBJ.
I've already had a PBJ, can I have a second PBJ?
Technically, yes; however, you can only receive a "PBJ" in Maryland every 10 years on a DUI/DWI offense. Most Judges in Maryland are hesitant to award a second PBJ to a person on a DUI case, even if more than 10 years have elapsed since their prior offense.
If I go to trial, can I still receive a PBJ?
Surprisingly, many Defendants think that a probation before judgment can only be awarded if they enter a guilty plea. This is not true. Many Judges will still award a Defendant who challenges their DUI case with a PBJ at the conclusion of the case, even if they are found guilty on the merits.
What happens if I don't get a PBJ on my DUI/DWI?
If you are not awarded a PBJ on your DUI/DWI, then you will receive points on your license if you are convicted. For a DUI conviction, 12 points would be issued against your license. For a DWI conviction, 8 points would be issued against your license. Receiving these points may result in revocation of your license, suspension of your license, or a requirement to participate in driver improvement. Additionally, you may have to disclose your conviction if asked on applications.
You may still be able to "earn" a PBJ during the course of your probation. Judges will often entertain a Motion to Modify a Sentence, as long as it is filed within 90 days of your sentencing. A modification motion can ask the Judge to reconsider issuing a PBJ in your case, which is strongest when you have taken steps after your conviction to "earn" the PBJ you are asking for.
Is a PBJ a conviction in a DUI/DWI case?
No. A PBJ is a probation before any conviction, meaning a person has not been found guilty. Having said that, DUI and DWI PBJs are not expungeable. The only way to have a DUI or DWI expunged is to be found not guilty at trial, or to have the case dismissed by the State. Even if a Judge grants you a probation before judgment, you may have to continue to do alcohol treatment.
Drunk driving cases are taken seriously in Maryland, but and will remain on your criminal record even if you receive a probation before judgment and you've pled guilty.
What else can I get a PBJ on?
A PBJ can be awarded on any traffic citation, which will keep points off your license. It can also be awarded on drug cases and other felony charges. There are a few limited times a PBJ cannot be awarded, laid out in Maryland Criminal Procedure Article, Section 6-220.