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DUI Maryland First Offense | Charged with my first DUI or DWI in Maryland

You're driving home from a late night dinner after work, and had a glass of wine or two with dinner. It's a little late, but you're almost home. Some aggressive driver behind you is driving really close, then backing away, and seems to be following you.

You feel your hands tighten around the wheel, and you look for a place to pull over to let the car pull by. Before you find a turn lane, you see flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror, and a few hours later, you've got a stack of paperwork in your hand and no driver's license.

You've just received your first Driving Under the Influence charge or driving while impaired charge, and you've got a lot of questions, but the first few are fairly common. Here's some answers from an experienced DUI Attorney.

I'm worried about my first time DUI in Maryland. Where do I start?

If you've been charged with your first DUI or DWI in Maryland, it's important that you don't ignore it. Drunk driving offenses in Maryland are no joke and can have long lasting effects on your driver's license and employment opportunities.

A first-time dui or first dwi offense aren't life ending; however, offenders can be incarcerated if they don't take their charges seriously.

Why did the officer give me so many tickets? Am I going to get points on all these tickets from one DUI offense?

A DUI stop is usually going to result in at least 3 tickets in Maryland, and usually many more. The standard "must appear" tickets (meaning that you have to go to court for them) are Driving Under the Influence and Driving While Impaired, while the driver will also get at least one "payable" moving violation or equipment ticket that was the purported reason that the officer pulled you over, like speeding or the vague "failing to obey a traffic control device" citation.

Depending on the officer, the tickets can begin to accumulate from a single stop in Maryland. For instance, if a driver blows into an intoximeter and it indicates above a .08, a ticket will be added called "Driving Under the Influence Per Se". Additionally, officers often add Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving as lesser included offenses of a DUI case.

Many of these tickets merge into each other if you went to trial and lost on multiple tickets from the same stop, depending on the circumstances. For instance, Driving While Impaired would merge into Driving Under the Influence, and Negligent Driving would likewise merge into Reckless Driving, and so on. Even when tickets do not merge, the law indicates that a driver can only get points on the ticket with the highest number of points. Some of the common first-offense dui charges carry enough points to trigger an automatic license suspension upon a driving conviction.

How do I avoid points on my drivers license?

The rest of the tickets will not result in the driver having points assessed against their driver's license at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, pursuant to Annotated Code of Maryland, Transportation Article Section 16-402(b). In addition, even if found guilty, a drive may be eligible for a Probation Before Judgment ("PBJ") on some or all of the tickets which would strike any conviction and any resulting assessment of points against a driver's license.

Some of these tickets are "Must Appears" and some I can pay in advance without going to court. Should I pay those prior to court?

No! All tickets issued from the same traffic stop should be resolved at the same time and place despite some being "Must Appears" and some being Payable. "Must Appears", such as a DUI citation, is a traffic offense where the driver is required by law to appear in court, and usually have a potential penalty of not just a fine or points, but potential incarceration as well. This is a common mistake many people make during their first dui offense.

Payable citations, while they can be paid in advance, may entail points being assessed against a driver, and may otherwise be disposed of or dismissed when negotiating the resolution of the Must Appear tickets. All tickets are part of a single unit of prosecution, and admission to a payable (such as agreeing that you ran a red light when you didn't) may hurt a legal argument that a police officer didn't have a reason to pull you over to begin with.

In short, don't pay tickets in advance of trial. It may hurt your defense and cause you to receive unnecessary points on your driver's license at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, and even possible license suspension.

The cop took my license, how can I drive before Court for my Maryland DUI?

First things first. If you were given a citation for DUI, it is a separate and additional crime to drive within the 12 hours of your arrest for that offense, pursuant to Transportation Article Section 21-902.1, which carries a potential jail sentence and 8 points against your driver's license causing possible license suspension.

After those 12 hours, if you have a Maryland license and it was taken by the police during your arrest, you should have a wrinkly piece of paper that was provided to you that has a small portion on it that indicates "temporary license". The same sheet states "order of suspension" and contains a handwritten section entitled "reasonable grounds". This paper is your temporary license for the next 45 days, and expires on the 46th day after which your license to drive will be suspended for a fixed period of time unless you take certain actions to modify or vacate that suspension.

On the back of the temporary license are two sets of instructions, one that will inform you how to request a MVA hearing. If you do that, the MVA will send you a second temporary license that will be valid until your hearing where you can argue for a modification of your license suspension.

The second set of instructions informs you how to take part in the Ignition Interlock Program, allowing you to keep your license to drive if you have an ignition interlock installed on your car for a fixed period of time. The circumstances of your arrest and results of your intoximeter blow, if any, will have great bearing on the decision to make as to which instruction to follow.

What's going to happen to my license if I have a driving conviction?

DUI and DWI convcitions in Maryland carry serious licensing penalties, including a possible license suspension. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration controls license suspensions relating to DUI and DWI breath tests, and DUI and DWI convictions. you may need to participate in ignition interlock as a result of a DUI or DWI charge. Licensing penalties are shown in the chart below:

Maryland DWI Licensing Suspension Chart

It didn't seem like they had any real reason to pull me over, can they do that?

The reason for the stop can't be nothing, but it doesn't have to be much. The State of Maryland recognizes pretextual stops. A pretextual stop occurs, for example, if an officer wants to pull a car over for suspicion of, say, having drugs in the vehicle, but doesn't have enough specific reasons to justify a stop based upon that suspicion.

The officer can pull over the vehicle for a bad brake light or rolling through a stop sign just to get that initial stop to get initial contact with a driver. The officer cannot extend that pretextual stop, however, without additional articulable reasonable suspicion of a DUI or some other offense, and must continue and complete the reason for the pretextual stop without delay if no other justifications are apparent.

What are the "Legal Limits in Maryland" for the purposes of DUI and DWI defense?

Driving under the influence per se is charged when a driver's blood alcohol concentration is over .08, resutling from a chemical breath test on an intoximeter. If a driver's blood alcohol concentration is under .08 but over .07, a presumption that a person was Driving while impaired is created according to Maryland law. This presumption can be overcome by the Defense in a dwi trial.

They didn't read me my rights, does the case get thrown out in Maryland?

Unfortunately - No your first-offense dui will not get thrown out over missing Miranda instructions. The reading of rights are reference to "Miranda" rights, that are read to an individual when being placed under arrest. Miranda rights inform a person that they have a right to an attorney and a right to remain silent.

If you are not read your Miranda rights in Maryland, and you make an incriminating statement while in custody in response to interrogation or questioning by law enforcement, a Court could keep that statement from being used as evidence against you. But the remedy would be to suppress the statement, not to have the case dismissed.

Am I going to get jail time for my first dui in Maryland?

Jail time is a real possibility in drunk driving cases, especially drunk-driving offenses involving serious bodily injury from motor vehicle accidents. DUI accident cases are taken very seriously by Judges, who are often quick to give out drunk driving probations for other less serious cases. Criminal penalties are on the table in every dui case, so it's crucial that you speak with an attorney who can evaluate your case and driver's license.

Generally speaking, first time DUI and DWI offenders without aggravting factors do not go to jail if they retain an attorney and take the proper steps ahead of Court. This does not mean that any attorney can guarantee you a suspended sentence or PBJ on your first DUI.

Don't hire an ambulance chaser, hire an attorney who can help you avoid stiff penalties.

Max Friz

Max Frizalone has built a solid reputation as a DUI specailist having tried cases in nearly every jurisdiction in the State of Maryland. Max has secured acquittals both by jury and by Judge in numerous counties as both a private attorney and during his tenure as a Public Defender. Max understands the intricacies of DUI cases, and defends every client with the same tenacity he brings to each consultation. Max possesses the unique ability to identify strong legal defenses that may exist within a case, which many times result in a reduction or dismissal of charges in Maryland. Max has handled allegations of driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of drugs, and vehicular manslaughter resulting from driving under the influence. Max is unafraid of taking a case to trial, which has earned him the respect of numerous States Attorney's Offices, and judges alike. Max has been trained by some of the best litigators in the United States, including the famous Roy Black.

Luke Woods

Luke Woods is a veteran trial attorney with over two decades of purely criminal defense experience. Luke held numerous roles in the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps (Army JAGS), and thereafter served as a District Public Defender for Calvert County for over a decade. Luke has tried hundreds of criminal traffic offenses, including countless DUI cases. Luke has a knack for expecting the unexpected, and always has an ace in his sleeve to deliver the Court. Luke has secured not guilty verdicts, acquittals, and dismissals for a wide array of cases to include DUI cases. Just like Max Frizalone, Luke is well versed in the ins and outs of DUI defense, and is able to identify and analyze legal and factual defenses early on in a case.

Contact Us for a free consultation

We pride ourselves on being one of Maryland's most accessible law firms. Our 24 hour attorney line is always open, give us a call and be directly connected with Max Frizalone or Luke Woods.

We are more than happy to give you a free attorney client priviledged consultation and first dui case review. Don't wait until the last minute to find the right attorney for your first dui offense. Call us or fill out one of our contact forms to request an appointment today - nobody should panic about jail time without speaking to a lawyer. Dui first offense cases are our specialty.

Our practice spans the State, from Montgomery County, to Anne Arundel county, through Prince George's County and Howard County. We can help with a wide array of criminal offenses and help you avoid a conviction. We don't just specialize in drunk-driving offenses, we can help with felony cases and assault cases as well.