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The Maryland DUI Guide


For Attorneys







Order of Suspension

Driving Charges
Motor Vehicle Administration MVA

Probation before Judgment PBJ





Alcohol Education Program Requirements


Ignition Interlock Providers


I just got arrested for a Maryland DUI charge.  What happens now?


ISSUE ONE:  The Maryland Implied Consent Civil Proceeding:  The most pressing matter may be requesting an appeal / hearing of your implied consent license suspension.  Your Maryland driver license was most likely suspended for anywhere from 45 days to one year for failing or refusing a breath test or a blood test.  If you had a valid Maryland drivers license at the time of your arrest, you should have been issued a temporary permit that allows you to drive for 45 days.


Read your paperwork carefully.  If you would like to challenge the administrative / implied consent suspension, you should make your MVA hearing request no later than the 10th day following receipt of the Order of Suspension (generally your date of arrest).  If you represent yourself on this issue, make sure that you do not miss the deadline or you will waive your right to challenge your suspension.  If you hire a Maryland attorney in time, your lawyer can make this request on your behalf. 


Why do I face a license suspension for failing or refusing a breath test?  Under Maryland law, any person who drives or attempts to drive a motor vehicle on a highway or on any private property that is used by the public in general in the State of Maryland is deemed to have consented to take a test if the person should be detained on suspicion of driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol, while impaired by alcohol, while so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person could not drive a vehicle safely, while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance.  This law is known as "implied consent."  The legislature specified suspension lengths for failing or refusing a chemical (breath / blood) test.



ISSUE TWO:  The Maryland DUI / DWI Criminal Charge:  Separate from the implied consent suspension is the Maryland criminal offense for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI).  Under Maryland law, you may not drive or attempt to drive any vehicle:

  • while under the influence of alcohol (DUI).

  • while the person is under the influence of alcohol per se (per se DUI).
  • while impaired by alcohol (DWI).
  • while he is so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that he cannot drive a vehicle safely.
  • while the person is impaired by any controlled dangerous substance, if the person is not entitled to use the controlled dangerous substance under the laws of this State.

You may be cited for one or more of the above offenses which are generally different theories of the same conduct.


As you can see, Maryland uses a two tier system.  DUI is the more serious offense and is generally seen when a person's drug alcohol content is 0.08 percent or greater.  DWI is the less serious offense and is most often seen when the state alleges driver impairment but the driver registers a BAC below 0.08 percent.


Make sure you do not miss your court appearance or a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest. 


Important:  These two issues (the implied consent proceeding and the Maryland DUI criminal charge) are completely separate from one another. 


Will my Maryland driver license be revoked / suspended?


RELATED TO ISSUE ONE ABOVE:  Your Maryland drivers license (or your right to drive in Maryland if you do not have a valid Maryland license) may be suspended for failing―blood alcohol content .08% or greater (lower for minors (persons under 21 years of age))―a breath or blood test or for refusing a breath or blood test.  If you act quickly (typically within 10 days of your arrest), you can request an MVA hearing to contest the proposed suspension.


If you had a valid Maryland drivers license at the time of your breath / blood test failure / refusal, you should have received a temporary permit that allows you to drive for the 45 days following your arrest  On the 46th day following your arrest, the suspension begins (unless your appeal is successful).



RELATED TO ISSUE TWO ABOVE:  If you are convicted of either a DUI or DWI charge your license will be suspended as well.  The length of this suspension depends on the conviction and your DUI / DWI history.  This suspension is separate from the implied consent suspension. 



Also keep in mind that your license can be suspended for a variety of other reasons unrelated to any DUI arrest such as for a drug conviction or excessive points.


What happens if I get caught driving while my license is suspended / invalid in the State of Maryland?


Driving while your license is suspended (DWS / DWLS) for a DUI conviction or for failing or refusing a breath test should be avoided as it is a new criminal offense.  Penalties include a fine and possible jail time.


I really need to drive.  Will I be able to get a occupational / restricted license / probationary permit?


Possibly.  If you make a timely request (generally within 10 days of your arrest, a judge may allow you to have a restricted license allowing you to drive to and from work (and possibly limited other places).  You may also seek to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle so that you may continue to drive. 


Speak to your Maryland DUI lawyer about whether you qualify and how to apply for an restricted license and / or an ignition interlock device.  The State of Maryland not issue restricted CDL permits.  Put another way, you cannot get a restricted license to drive commercial vehicles.


Is a DUI / DWI offense in Maryland a misdemeanor or felony charge?


In Maryland, DUI and DWI charges are misdemeanor crimes, not felonies.


What type of sentence / penalties might I face if I am convicted of a Maryland DUI charge?


If convicted of a Maryland DUI, a defendant will receive a variety of sentencing penalties including alcohol treatment / education; possible victims panel class.  A range of penalties is set forth below: 



(first offense within the past 10 years)
  • Jail time possible but not required;

  • Several hundred dollars in fines;

  • License suspension of 45-120 days.

(second offense within 10 years)
  • Five or more days jail;
  • Several hundred dollars or more in fines;
  • License suspension of 90 days to one year.
(third offense within 10 years)
  • Ten or more days jail;
  • Substantial fines up to $3000;
  • License suspension of 90 days to one year.
(first offense within 10 years)
  • Possible jail time;
  • Few hundred dollars in fines;
  • 45 day license suspension.
(second offense within 10 years)
  • Probable jail time;
  • Few hundred dollars in fines;
  • 45 day license suspension.
The length of your license suspension varies depending on your BAC or whether you refused a chemical test.


Will I be able to plea bargain / negotiate my Maryland DUI offense down to a lesser type charge or a Probation before Judgment?

Possibly.  Maryland DUI plea bargaining and charge reduction are two areas that any experienced DUI lawyer will discuss with the prosecutor on the client's behalf.  One possibility for a first DUI charge is a "probation before judgment" or PBJ.  If allowed to do a probation before judgment, a defendant is placed on probation but no conviction is entered.  If the defendant successfully completes probation (without violation), then no conviction is entered.  Additionally, points are not assessed on a successful PBJ.  While a PBJ will not appear on your general driving record, the courts and prosecutors will be able to see the PBJ if you get a subsequent DUI / DWI and it will be used against you. 

Will a Maryland DUI conviction go on "my record?"

Yes.  A DUI conviction and a DWI conviction will go on your Maryland driving record.  A breath test refusal will go on your driving record.  A successful PBJ will not appear on your general driving record.

Just how much jail time will I have to do if I am convicted of a DUI / DWI offense in Maryland?

The amount of incarceration (jail or prison) received for a Maryland DUI / DWI will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the following:

•  your prior driving record especially your DUI / DWI / PBJ history (including out of state DUI / DWI / OWI convictions);

•  your level of intoxication / impairment / BAC;

•  whether there was an accident involved;

•  whether there was an injury to another person in the collision;

•  which Maryland court your case is in;

•  what judge you are sentenced by;

•  whether there was a passenger / minor child in your car;

•  whether the court feels you have accepted responsibility for your actions.


I am licensed to drive in a state other than Maryland and I was cited for a DUI / DWI in Maryland.  Will my driver license be suspended / revoked?

Maryland only has the authority to suspend your right to drive in the State of Maryland.  However, Maryland and 44 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted an agreement known as the "Driver License Compact."  Maryland will report a Maryland DUI / DWI conviction to the home state of the driver (assuming the home state has also adopted the Compact).  Your home state will then generally take action to suspend or revoke your license.

This also works in reverse.  If you are a Maryland licensed driver and you are convicted of a DWI / DUI / OWI conviction in another state, Maryland will likely suspend your license if it learns of the conviction. 

Will I have to install an Alcohol Breath Analyzed Ignition Interlock Device on my car?


An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breath alcohol measurement device that is connected to a motor vehicle ignition.  In order to start the motor vehicle, a driver must blow a breath sample into the device which then measures alcohol concentration.  If the alcohol concentration exceeds the startup set point on the interlock device, the motor vehicle will not start.


You may have to install an ignition interlock device if you're convicted of a Maryland DUI.  Speak to your lawyer about whether this requirement applies to your situation.

What will a Maryland DUI conviction do to my insurability?

If your insurance company finds out about a Maryland DUI or DWI conviction one of two things typically happen.  Either your Maryland insurer will raise your rates or you may be cancelled or non-renewed. 

What happens if I was on probation for another crime when I was arrested for my Maryland DUI / DWI?

Committing a new criminal offense while you're on probation for a previous crime creates two concerns.  First, you face the new Maryland DUI or DWI charge.  Second, you also face a probation violation hearing for failing to "obey all laws."  The most serious scenario is when you receive a new Maryland DWI or DUI offense when you're already on probation for a previous DUI conviction.  When this happens, its in your best interest to speak to a Maryland attorney as soon as possible.

I'm not a United States citizen.  Will a Maryland DUI or DWI conviction result in my removal from this country?

Probably not.  Typical, first time Maryland DUI and DWI offenses (no priors; no child in car) are generally not considered crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies resulting in removal.  However, it is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney about your situation just as you should consult with an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer about your pending DWI / DUI offense. 

Keep two points in mind.  First, it is very important to answer truthfully all questions about prior arrests / convictions on immigration and Visa applications and forms and in any interviews.  Dishonesty is often considered more serious than any DWI / DUI arrest / conviction.  Second, non-citizens should take special care not to drive on a suspended or revoked license.

Are there special concerns for aircraft pilots who get arrested for a Maryland DUI offense?


Yes.  The FAA has special reporting requirements for certain Motor Vehicle Actions including Maryland DUI and DWI convictions and certain implied consent license actions (suspensions for failing or refusing a chemical test).  Learn more here.


Are there any concerns for mariners licensed by the United States Coast Guard who get a DUI offense in Maryland?


Yes.  An applicant for a Coast Guard credential must disclose all criminal convictions on their CG application form including DUI / DWI convictions.  In addition, the Regional Exam Center (REC) performs a National Driver Register check on applicants.  Once a DUI / DWI conviction is identified, the REC evaluates the applicant's reported conviction and associated facts.

I missed my Maryland court date.  What do I do now?

Failing to appear (FTA) for court is to be avoided.  When you miss a court appearance, bad things happen.  At a minimum, the court typically issues a warrant for your arrest (known as a bench warrant).  You also may face a new criminal charge. 

Talk to a Maryland DUI attorney as soon as possible.  Sometimes, your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding bench warrant.  A new court date will then be scheduled for your appearance.

Can I represent myself in court on my Maryland DUI or other charge(s)?

Yes.  You have an absolute right to represent yourself on any State of Maryland criminal charge no matter how serious including a DUI / DWI offense.  Keep in mind that Maryland DUI law is complex as shown by the information here.  If you cannot afford to hire your own Maryland lawyer, you absolutely should apply for a court appointed attorney to represent you.  You have no right to court appointed counsel at any administrative license proceeding.

Copyright 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

This website provides general Maryland DUI / DWI information but does not provide legal advice or create an attorney / client relationship.  General information cannot replace legal advice specific to your MD DUI case, problem, or situation.  Consult qualified Maryland Drunk Driving - DUI - DWI lawyers / attorneys for advice about any specific problem or Maryland DUI charge that you have.  The owner / author of this website is not a Maryland attorney, and this website is not an advertisement for legal services.  Rather it is a purely informational site.  Attorneys in Maryland are governed by the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct.  This website may be considered an advertisement for services under these Rules.  Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way.  No lawyer associated with this website claims any specialization or certification.  Not certified by the any Board of Legal Specialization.


Maryland DUI lawyers provide drunk driving (DUI) and criminal defense assistance to the communities of:  Baltimore, Frederick, Montgomery County, Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, Rockville.  Maryland DUI attorneys may accept Visa, American Express, Discover, and MasterCard credit cards.


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