The first weeks after being charged with a DUI or DWI can be nerve-wracking and stressful. You probably have lots of questions about the legal process and possible consequences of a conviction. We have put together this short Maryland DUI FAQ to answer your most pressing questions and provide insight into what you should do when facing one of these charges.
Can I attend Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Meetings Without a Court Order?
When someone is found guilty of a DUI or DWI, they are typically ordered to attend a victim impact panel. This is typically a 2-3 hour session that you will attend on just one occasion. In the session, you will hear from people who have been negatively impacted by drinking and driving. The speakers usually include people who have lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident and people who have personally suffered from being a drunk driver.
Unfortunately, MADD will not let a defendant attend without a court order. But there is another program that you can attend if you want to be proactive and try to complete this typical sentencing requirement in advance of court. This program is called Positive Alternatives to Dangerous and Destructive Decisions (PADDD). PADDD offers victim impact panels in 3 locations around Maryland: Frederick, Jarrettsville, and Laurel. Programs at each location are offered once a month, so be sure to visit the above link if you know your court date.
Where Can I Get an Ignition Interlock Installed?
The MVA has a group of 6 authorized Ignition Interlock Service Providers. You’ll want to call each of them individually to get information on pricing and location:
- Alcohol Detection Systems – 1-888-786-7384
- Alcolock – 1-844-973-0052
- Draeger Interlock – 1-800-332-6858
- Guardian Interlock – 1-800-499-0994
- LifeSafer – 1-800-374-5760
- Smart Start Interlock – 1-800-880-3394
For more information from the MVA, visit the MVA’s page on Ignition Interlock Providers at mva.maryland.gov. Plus, read our full article to learn more about Ignition Interlock device laws in Maryland.
Should I Attend an Alcohol Program If I Am Charged with a DUI?
Absolutely. All attorneys should recommend that their clients participate in an alcohol program before attending court. No attorney can predict the outcome of a case, even if they have access to all of the evidence. If someone is found guilty of a DUI or DWI offense, judges are always looking to see what kind of alcohol programs the defendant completed while the case was pending. Don’t be the person who didn’t do an alcohol program. You will receive a scolding from the judge for wasting time and will likely be ordered to complete a program anyway.
How Intensive Should the Alcohol Program Be?
Neither you nor your attorney should dictate the intensity of an alcohol program that you choose. The only person that should make this decision is a certified alcohol or drug treatment assessor. You can typically find this person at a state-certified alcohol or drug treatment program.
A qualified treatment assessor will interview you about your background, history with substances, and criminal record, and ask you about the facts of the case. Be honest with this person so that they can place you in an appropriate program. The most common alcohol programs require attendance once a week for about 26 weeks, but can vary in length and intensity. The circumstances of your situation will dictate which alcohol program is appropriate for you.
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What Qualities Should I Look For in an Alcohol Program?
First and foremost, you want to attend a State-Certified Alcohol Program. Faith-based programs are typically only acceptable to the courts if they are state-certified. You can find this information out when you contact the program you are considering.
Second, you should attend a program that will provide an evaluation letter for you at the time of your admission. This letter will include the program’s recommendation for why you should participate in a particular alcohol program. It will demonstrate to the court that you did not decide which program to enter.
Finally, you should attend a program that will provide you a status letter for your court date. This letter will detail your performance in the program, the kinds of treatment you are participating in, how many times you have attended the program, and whether you have graduated. If you completed an inpatient program or intensive outpatient program, this completion letter should include information about an aftercare plan.
Will Attending Alcoholics Anonymous Show a Judge That I Am Taking This Case Seriously?
Alcoholics Anonymous is a wonderful program. However, if you are preparing to attend court for a charge of DUI or DWI, the decision to only participate in A.A. will be frowned upon by the judge. Judges want to see people make an investment in their alcohol education and attend a program that focuses specifically on the patient. Because of the drop-in nature of A.A., courts do not view it as an adequate exclusive treatment. Now, if you enroll in a state-certified program, participating in A.A. in addition can make a good impression on the court and show that you are doing everything you can with your free time to fix the situation.
If you do attend A.A., make a long-term and serious commitment. Attending 1 or 2 sessions probably won’t impress a judge. Attending 2 or more sessions a week makes a much stronger impression. But remember that you need to ask for verification at the end of each A.A. session to prove you were there. If you attend an A.A. session and they refuse to verify that you were there, then do not visit that location again if you want the court to give you credit for your effort. Without verification that you can show the court, no one will believe that you went.
Where Can I Attend an Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) Meeting?
For meetings in Baltimore and the nearby counties, you can search using your zip code by going to http://www.baltimoreaa.org/meetings.php.
For other parts of Maryland, visit http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/find-aa-resources and click “Maryland”.
Can I Expunge a DUI/DWI?
You are only eligible to expunge a DUI/DWI if your charges were disposed of in one of these manners:
- Dismissal: Received by election of the state’s attorney
- Nolle Prosequi: Received by election of the state’s attorney
- Stet: Received by agreement with the state’s attorney to turn your case inactive in exchange for your waiver of your right to speedy trial
- Not Guilty: Received after a successful trial
- Pardon: May only be received after applying to the Governor of Maryland
If you were convicted or received a probation before judgement, DUI law in Maryland does not allow you to expunge a DUI or DWI from your criminal record. In most cases, defendants are charged with multiple kinds of DUI or DWI but are only found guilty or receive probation for one of them. In this circumstance, you will not be eligible to expunge the other DUIs or DWIs that were dismissed as part of a package deal.
In some cases, your attorney might negotiate a deal that requires you to plead guilty to a non-incarcerable traffic ticket. If all your DUIs and DWIs are dismissed, you may be eligible for an expungement even if you were found guilty of another ticket you received as part of this incident.
We hope that this brief DUI FAQ has helped you to understand this set of complicated, nuanced DUI and DWI laws. A free initial consultation with the attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law will answer any other questions and set you on the right path. Call 410-753-4611 to speak with one of our DUI attorneys.