When you’re charged with a first-time driving under the influence offense, it’s a scary situation. This could be the first interaction you’ve really had with the police and your mind will be swirling with worries about what could happen next.
Can you fight the accusation? Does your clean driving record matter? Will you lose your license? Will you owe a lot of money? Could you go to jail over this?
The state of Maryland takes first-time offenses for drunk driving quite seriously, even if you have a spotless record with no prior arrests. If you believe you have been unfairly charged, it can be extremely difficult to prove your case without the help of a Maryland DUI lawyer who has experience assisting people with first-time DUIs.
Maryland Has Strict DUI Laws and Penalties
Under Maryland Code Section 21-902, the charge of driving under the influence per se (DUI Per Se) can be automatic if the driver of a vehicle has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above. Many people don’t realize that in Maryland, you can still be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and/or driving while intoxicated (DWI) if you have a BAC that’s under .08 but still above .05. It depends on the circumstances and the decisions of the officer who arrests you.
However, keep in mind that whether you are charged with DUI or DWI, you will not be automatically convicted of it. You will have an opportunity to speak to a lawyer, be informed of your charges, and discuss what to do next.
The penalties you could be facing may include:
- 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first-time DWI
- An 8-point penalty on your driver’s license and a 180-day suspension
- One year in jail and a $1,000 fine for a first-time DUI
- A 12-point penalty on your driver’s license, enough for it to be revoked
Maryland is an “all offender” ignition interlock state, meaning that everyone – including first-time offenders – could be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle if they are convicted of a drunk driving crime. The device is a breathalyzer that requires you to blow into a mouthpiece before driving your vehicle. You may be required to go through this process for an extended period of time before getting your full driving privileges back.
In addition, people who are dealing with drunk driving charges often find that there are other negative effects on their lives. You might lose your job, face conflict with your spouse and family, be embarrassed on social media, or even have your drunk driving charges interfere with a child custody case.
Here’s When a First-Time DUI Becomes Even More Serious
Your first-time DUI will be treated even more seriously if certain things took place at the time of your arrest. Maryland has harsher penalties, also known as enhancements, for drunk drivers who put other people in danger on the road.
For example, if you had a minor child in your vehicle at the time, you could face an additional $1,000 fine and an additional 1 year in jail. If you refused BAC testing when the officer asked you to take it, under Maryland law you can have your driver’s license automatically suspended for 270 days.
One of the worst things you can do is argue or struggle with the officer when they stop you for a DUI. These actions can escalate the situation and result in additional charges on top of your first-time DUI, which makes it much more likely that you will face severe penalties including high fines and jail time.
Know the Best Way to Handle a DUI Stop
If you’ve been drinking and suddenly see the bright lights of a police car pulling you over, move to the side of the road and follow the officer’s instructions. Remain calm and avoid making any sudden movements. Say as little as possible to the officer. You have a right to remain silent. This would be an excellent time to assert it. You don’t want to accidentally blurt something out that could come back to haunt you later. Also, the way you talk may be slurred or impaired.
You will almost certainly be detained or arrested if you have a BAC that is at or near Maryland’s limit. At this point, your goal should be to seek legal assistance at your earliest possible opportunity.
With guidance from an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer, you can review your options and find a solution to minimize the impact on your life. A DUI lawyer who is skilled at helping first-time drunk drivers may be able to help you pursue a pre-trial diversion program, clear your name, and move forward with a fresh start.
Have a Legal Question About Drunk Driving? We Have Answers
If you have penalties for first-time drunk driving, the attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law can help. Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our DUI attorneys today.