Question

Will I Lose My Driver’s License After A Maryland DUI?

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Answered by: Thomas J. Maronick, Jr.

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If you are convicted of a DUI in Maryland, you will almost certainly lose your diver’s license for some period of time. Even first-time offenders could lose their license for a minimum of six months. If you are charged with additional substance-related driving offenses, that minimum suspension increases in six-month increments. Refusal to take an alcohol breath test means your license will automatically be immediately suspended.

The amount of time that your license is ultimately suspended will hinge upon your blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the arrest, as well as if you have had any previous DUI convictions on your criminal record.

The one exception to potentially losing your license is that you may be allowed to drive with an ignition interlock. While this is more advantageous to losing your license altogether, it still poses significant limits to your freedom following a DUI. Another option may be to apply for a hardship license, which imposes strict limits on when you can drive.

Restricted Driving Privileges After A DUI

While many drivers may lose their license for a minimum of six months, there are two alternatives that can help to keep you behind the wheel if convicted of a DUI:

  • Ignition interlock device: The ignition interlock connects to your car’s ignition system. To start your car, you will need to blow into a mouthpiece that measures alcohol on your breath. If the alcohol level is above a set limit, your car will not turn on. You may be required to have the device installed for 180 days to one year.
  • Hardship license: People with a hardship license can continue to drive, but with limitations. Driving privileges are usually restricted to driving to and from work, school, alcohol/drug treatment or counseling, or for emergency medical care. You may or may not be required to also install an ignition interlock device while using a hardship license.

Don’t Hesitate To Schedule An Administrative Hearing

If you face a DUI charge, you can expect two hearings on your case – a criminal hearing and an administrative hearing. While driving privileges are often automatically suspended, the administrative hearing is your chance to obtain a ruling that permits you to continue to drive.

You have 10 days after your arrest to schedule a Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) hearing to challenge the automatic suspension of your driving privileges. If you fail to schedule your administrative hearing within 10 days, your license will be suspended.

Probation For Judgment Can Limit Criminal Penalties

If you qualify for probation before judgment (PBJ), your chances of keeping your driver’s license improve. PBJ means you have not been found guilty. It means that you have been placed on probation, pending your judgement. If you are on probation, you can get the charge expunged if you complete your probation.

You could qualify for a PBJ if:

  • Your DUI/DWI offense was your first (or you have not had a DUI or DWI in 10 years).
  • You are a first-time violator of the Maryland Controlled Dangerous Substances laws.
  • If you are first-time offender of a felony or misdemeanor, and you can exhibit to the court that you are open to treatment as part of your probation.

If you complete your PBJ, your chance to keep your license improve and you can keep your car insurance rates from increasing. You might also be able to get the conviction expunged if you successfully complete the program.

A CDL Raises The Stakes

For drivers who have commercial driver’s licenses, there are lower standards and more severe penalties. If you hold a CDL, you cannot have a .04 BAC or above. If your BAC is over the legal limit, even if you are a first-time offender, you could lose your CDL for one year. The suspension increases to three years if you were hauling hazardous materials when you were arrested. A second offense could mean you lose your commercial license forever.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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