If you are facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) in Maryland, you probably assume that your options are limited. You expect a hefty fine, driver’s license suspension, ignition interlock device, and even more severe penalties if the DUI/DWI arrest is not your first. What you may not realize is that you might qualify for the “Probation Before Judgment” program under state law. There are significant advantages if you are eligible, so you should discuss your circumstances with a Maryland DUI/DWI attorney right away.
Summary of Probation Before Judgment Under Maryland Law
Just as the name suggests, Probation Before Judgment is a way to dispose of your drunk driving charge in which you are placed on probation prior to any criminal judgment being entered against you. You are not required to plead guilty to an offense, and you do not have to go to court where a prosecuting attorney would have to prove the elements of DUI or DWI.
A judge makes the determination of whether you can take advantage of Probation Before Judgment, and there will be conditions attached to the arrangement. You will have to comply with these terms and all requirements of probation. The conditions may include completing alcohol or substance abuse treatment, engaging in community service activities, and other obligations.
Once you do complete the requirements of your probation, the incident does not become part of your permanent criminal record. While law enforcement officials and courts will have access to your case details, others will not.
The Probation Before Judgment process is limited to those who have been charged with DUI or DWI in Maryland; it is also only available to first time offenders. There is an exception for individuals who have a previous drunk driving conviction, if that offense was committed at least 10 years prior to the current charge.
Benefits of Probation Before Judgment in a Maryland DUI/DWI
The primary advantage of Probation Before Judgment is that your criminal background remains clear after you complete the terms required by the court. This may be an important factor for certain types of employment, apartment leases, or other situations that require a background check. You can truthfully state on forms that you have never been found guilty of or pled guilty to criminal activity.
In addition, auto insurance companies will not find out about your drunk driving incident. Your rates will not increase, as they might if a DUI or DWI appears on your record.
Maryland’s Probation Before Judgment program offers benefits to motorists facing DUI/DWI charges, but not all drivers qualify, and even if you do, the process for taking advantage of the program can be extremely complex. An experienced lawyer can represent your interests and assist you in navigating the process. Plus, if you are not eligible for some reason, a DUI/DWI attorney can explain your options so that you can make informed choices about handling your case. If you have been charged with drunk driving and need legal assistance, please contact attorney Michael A. Freedman. We are happy to answer your questions or set up a consultation in our Baltimore County offices.
See Related Blog Posts: