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What happens if you get convicted of a DUI in Maryland?

In order to deter people from getting behind the wheel after drinking, Maryland has strict laws and penalties for those convicted of a driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) offense. Although roadside sobriety tests and even breath tests can prove unreliable, many people believe they have to plead guilty if charged with a DUI. However, doing so can negatively affect your life in many ways.

Even if this is your first offense, you'll be saddled with a criminal record. Your employer may have a policy about criminal convictions, which can result in the loss of your job. A criminal record will also make it harder to find a job or rent an apartment in the future. Your friends and family may no longer want to drink socially with you or let you drive when you travel together. The criminal consequences of being convicted of a DUI are even more serious.

Maryland DUI penalties get worse with more offenses

Maryland has a progressive sentencing system for DUI offenders. This means that the more previous DUI convictions you have, the steeper your penalties. A first time DUI offense in Maryland carries a fine of up to $1,000, up to 12 months in jail and the loss of your driver's license for six months. A first DUI offense also adds 12 points to your driving record, which will cause your insurance rates to skyrocket. 

A second DUI offense could result in a fine of up to $2,000, at least five days and up to two years in prison, the loss of your license for up to one year and another 12 points on your driving record. When you do regain your driving privileges, you may also be required to pay to have an ignition interlock system installed in your vehicle. If you have two convictions within a five year period, the ignition interlock program is required. You may also end up being ordered to take an alcohol abuse assessment and education course.

Pleading guilty doesn't eliminate penalties

Some people think that their sentence will be reduced if they plead guilty to a DUI and throw themselves at the mercy of the court. In most cases, pleading guilty leaves the accused subject to the same penalties. Even if you avoid jail time, your guilty plea still has serious consquences. For example, even in your employer doesn't care about your criminal record, you may still lose your job if you lose your driver's license and cannot get to work.

For most people who are facing a DUI, the best option is to speak with a criminal defense attonrey who can help you explore every alternative before entering a guilty plea.

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