Getting a DUI (driving under the influence) charge for the first time can be scary, even if it’s not your first encounter with the police. Often, when people are charged with a DUI for the first time, they don’t understand how that can impact not only their driving record but their life in general.
Although you may not need to worry about severe penalties for your first DUI offense doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it seriously. This article will discuss what happens when you get a DUI charge for the first time in Maryland.
DUI Charges in Maryland
There are two kinds of drinking and driving offenses in Maryland. A DUI, and a DWI (driving while impaired).
If you are pulled over, and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher, you will automatically be charged with a DUI. But even if you have a BAC of as low as .05, you could face a DWI charge.
It’s also important to realize that you can also get a DUI/DWI if you drive while impaired by drugs (even if they are legal), a combination of alcohol and drugs, or controlled substances such as marijuana. (Md. Code, Transportation §21-902)
Penalties for a DUI Charge
Even if it’s your first DUI, penalties can be severe. You could face up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. You also receive twelve points on your driving record and could lose your license for up to six months. And if a minor was in the vehicle, the penalty could double.
If you are under 21, your license carries an “Under 21 Alcohol Restriction.” That means you must submit to a breath test if an officer believes you are driving under the influence. If you refuse the test and have alcohol in your system, there are additional penalties that you may be subject to.
Handling a DUI Charge
If a police officer is trying to stop you, pull over to the side of the road. They will ask you for your license, registration, and proof of insurance.
It’s important to remember that when they are approaching your vehicle, they already know you have been drinking, so they will ask questions. Remember, you have the right to remain silent, and you should do so to keep from saying something you shouldn’t. Only respond to essential questions.
You will also be asked to do a breath test to test your BAC. While some people believe refusing a breath test is a good idea, doing so can negatively affect you in the long run. For example, if you decline the test and are later found to have been intoxicated, you could receive two additional months in jail as well as an additional $500 in fines.
If your BAC is at or over Maryland’s legal limit, you will be arrested. When this happens, your next step should be to retain the services of an experienced DUI attorney.
How a DUI Attorney in Maryland Can Help
Enlisting the help of a DUI attorney can be highly beneficial. They can explain the charges you are facing in-depth and present you with possible outcomes for your case. In addition, your attorney will review your case, check the validity of the evidence the prosecutor is using to prove that you’re guilty, and will create the best defense strategy for your case.
When all is said and done, if the judge issues a “not guilty” verdict, you’re in good shape. However, if that doesn’t happen and your attorney believes you have a strong defense, they will ask for a jury trial.
Not only do they know the ins and outs of the law, but they can also work with the prosecutor and the judge to try to get your charges or your penalties reduced. Most of the time, for a first DUI offense, a DUI attorney will try to get the judge to agree to send you to an alcohol education program.
Let Jeremy Widder Law Help You Fight DUI Charges
Being charged with a DUI in Maryland can have severe penalties and leave you with a criminal record. However, having a DUI attorney on your side can ensure that you meet all requirements to keep your record clean and avoid having this temporary lapse in judgment affect your career, education, and future.
At Jeremy Widder Law, we know that facing your first DUI can be a scary and stressful time. We will listen to your story, help you determine your preferred outcome, and then work towards that outcome. We have years of trial experience focusing on criminal defense and want to help you.
Contact us today for a free consultation.