Drivers who are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) face many penalties if convicted. They can be sentenced to jail or prison (depending on the type of charge), and be forced to pay substantial penalties and fines. Their insurance rates can increase, or their coverage can be cancelled. They can lose their security clearance, in some cases, too. One extra risk is that you will likely lose your driving privileges at a Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) hearing.
The standard procedure after a DUI arrest is that the arresting officer will confiscate your license if you have a breath test reading of .08 or more or if you refuse to take the breath test for alcohol. The officer will then issue a temporary license which is good for 45 days. Although you have 30 days within which to request an MVA hearing, the MVA will suspend your license after 45 days unless you request the MVA hearing within the first 10 days after receiving your temporary license. If you request an MVA hearing (and pay the MVA filing fee), within 10 days, you will be able to keep driving until the date of your MVA hearing, which is almost always later than 45 days after the date that you were arrested.
If you miss the 10-day deadline and request an MVA hearing between 11 and 30 days after you received the temporary license, you will receive an MVA hearing (again, virtually always after 45 days from the date you were arrested), but your temporary license will expire after 45 days and your license suspension will begin even before the date of your hearing. Of course, if you win the MVA hearing, your suspension will stop, but nothing can be done about the weeks or months that your license was suspended before the hearing
Why is this? Because the MVA operates differently than the criminal court system. When you get a driver’s license, your consent to always driving sober, and to taking a sobriety test, is implied. As such, if you are pulled over for DUI, the State can suspend your driving privilege.
The MVA hearing
An MVA hearing is heard by an Administrative Law Judge. It’s a formal proceeding where we can raise numerous defenses, depending on what happened. The defenses vary with each case but the basic defenses we assert for drivers involved in alcohol-related stops are:
- The officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving while under the influence or impaired by alcohol. If the officer fails to articulate a legally valid reason to request that you take a breath test for alcohol, then this is a defense to a license suspension for a breath test refusal or a breath test result of .08 or more.
- You did not refuse the breath test. If you were unable to provide a sufficient breath sample to produce a breathalyzer reading, this may not be a refusal. Maryland law defines a refusal in the case of an insufficient breath sample as one in which there is a conscious decision to deliberately frustrate the administration of the breath test. So, if you have a medical condition that prevents you from providing a deep air breath sample or have another reason why you were unable to do so despite a genuine attempt to give a breath sample, this may be a defense.
- The officer failed to fully advise you of the administrative sanctions to be imposed in the event of a breath test greater than .08 or in the event of a decision to refuse the breath test. You need to be told exactly what the consequences are for a breath test refusal or a breath test result of .08 – .14 and .15 and above. The failure to do this should result in a denial of the MVA’s request to suspend your license.
Our experienced MVA defense hearings effectively cross-examine police officers, challenge every test that was given, and fight to show proper procedures weren’t followed. Carey Law Office has locations in Bowie and in Crofton. We fight for the accused in Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County, and the surrounding areas. Four nearly four decades, we’ve been fight for clients one case at a time. Every client is like family to us. To speak with a respected DUI defense lawyer, please call 301-464-2500 or fill out the contact form We’ll get you through this.