It used to be that judge might cut a break for a first-time DUI charge. That just isn’t the case anymore. In Maryland, anyone who is charged with a DUI is looking at possible jail time, court fines and penalties, license suspension, and increased insurance premiums. A skilled DUI defense lawyer will fight aggressively to suppress chemical tests, to question the basis for the arrest, and obtain dismissals or plea-bargains of the charges.
Penalties for a first-time DUI conviction in Maryland
In Maryland, drivers can be charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Impaired). The DUI offense is normally based on a showing that your blood alcohol level was .08 or more. A DWI is based on a showing that alcohol or drugs impaired your ability to drive at some level. The consequences are generally the same for both types of convictions, though most of the penalties are imposed by the Motor Vehicle Administration:
- Possible prison time. While there is no mandatory minimum for a first offense, you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail. The odds of spending time in jail increase if someone is injured.
- Fines can be up to $1,000.
- Points. If convicted just one time, 12 points will be added to your driving record.
- License suspension. You will likely lose your driving privileges for up to six months.
- Alcohol and drug program. You may be required to take and complete an alcohol and drug education program.
- IID devices. Drivers convicted of a first-time offense may be eligible to apply to use an interlock ignition device (IID) which requires the driver to take and pass a breath test before the ignition will turn on. Using the IID device may reduce the length of the suspension – though the benefit mostly applies to people with suspensions of more than six months. In some cases, such as for underage drivers, the use of an IID device is mandatory.
First-time offenders will also fact some or all of the following consequences, too, if convicted:
- If someone was injured, you may be ordered to pay for their medical bills
- If someone’s car was damaged, you may be required to pay for the repairs
- Your insurance premiums will almost certainly increase
- You will have a criminal conviction which can affect your ability to obtain employment
- Any injury victims may be able to use the criminal conviction in any civil personal injury claims against you
Finally, the sentences and penalties only increase for second and third offense. If you are convicted, your next DUI or DWI offense will be your second offense. If acquitted or the charges are dropped, your next DUI/DWI conviction will still be your first.
How an experienced DUI/DWI lawyer fights for defendants
An experienced DUI/DWI defense lawyer will fight to have the charges dismissed, to obtain an acquittal before a judge or jury, or to have the charges reduced. For example, our Annapolis DUI lawyers may argue that the police didn’t have grounds to stop you and that a fair compromise is to cite you for a traffic offense instead of DUI offense.
In DUI cases, skilled defense lawyers:
- Fight to suppress the introduction of breath or blood tests. We argue that the test wasn’t given correctly, that the equipment wasn’t certified, or that there were other defects in the way the test was used or in the way the results were stored.
- Argue that the police didn’t have grounds to stop you. Police can’t strop drivers at random. They must have a reasonable suspicion that you were driving while intoxicated or that you had committed a traffic offense such as speeding.
- Argue that the police violated the search provisions of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
- Work to show the prosecution did not prove its claim beyond a reasonable doubt.
Defense lawyers also assert any other defenses that may apply to your case.
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, our Annapolis DUI defense lawyers understand that one moment’s mistake shouldn’t ruin your life. We have been fighting for Maryland defendants for decades. We have a strong track record of successfully defending people charged with DUI and other offenses. For help with a first-time DUI charge or any subsequent offenses, call Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law at 410.777.8103, or fill out my contact form, to make an appointment. We represent clients in Annapolis, Centreville, Ellicott City, and the surrounding areas.