It is common for people facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges to believe they have no way to defend themselves. However, as with any criminal charges, those facing allegations of drunk driving still have the right to a criminal defense.
You might believe that accepting a plea deal could make your life easier by helping you avoid court. However, doing so likely means that you will face both serious criminal consequences and a future saddled with a criminal record that could keep you out of the best jobs.
Learning a little bit more about how impaired driving charges can affect your future in Maryland can assist you in making a more informed decision about how to respond to pending charges.
The more offenses you have on record, the worse the penalties become
If you have never had any previous impaired driving issues, the penalties you face with a conviction or guilty plea include a fine of up to $1,000 and as long as a year in jail. You could also lose your license for as long as six months.
If you have a second offense, the fine increases to $2,000, while the jail increases to up to two years with a minimum of five days in jail. You could also lose your license for up to a year. If that second conviction comes within a 5-year period, there could be additional penalties, including a mandatory substance abuse class.
Even if you avoid jail, the other DUI penalties are also serious
Too many people facing DUI allegations focus solely on jail time. They convince themselves that as long as they avoid jail, the situation isn't that bad. However, they will have an increased risk of more penalties if they get caught driving under the influence again in the future.
Not only that, but the combination of the license suspension and ignition interlock device installation could cause a lot of problems for their personal and professional life. Not having a license means they could find themselves showing up late to work because they have to rely on public transportation or the goodwill of others.
If they do lose their job, finding another one will be more difficult once you have a criminal conviction, even if it is for a nonviolent impaired driving offense. If your job happens to involve driving in any way, your employer may terminate you or demote you as a result of your conviction.
In other words, even if it is your first offense, defending against a DUI allegation is usually better than just pleading guilty. Sitting down to talk with a Maryland criminal defense attorney can help you make an educated decision about your pending criminal charges.