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Understanding driving restrictions in Maryland

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2023 | CRIMINAL LAW - Drunk Driving

If you get a driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) charge in Maryland, you’ll face more than just fines and imprisonment. The state Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) or a court can impose a driving restriction as part of the penalties.

Drivers convicted of DUI can get up to two driving restrictions: an alcohol/drug restriction and an ignition interlock device restriction. These restrictions appear on the front of the driver’s license. What are these restrictions, and what happens if you violate them?

Alcohol/drug restriction

If you get an alcohol/drug restriction on your driving record, you’re prohibited from operating any motor vehicle after consuming liquor or mood-altering substances, regardless of the amount. In addition, if you have two alcohol-related convictions within the past two years, your alcohol/drug restriction lasts for three years.

Notably, drivers under 21 automatically have an alcohol/drug restriction with their license.

Ignition interlock device restriction

This restriction requires installing and maintaining an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. The device locks your vehicle from starting unless it detects through your breath that your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is low enough. Maryland also requires drivers with this restriction to install ignition interlock devices with cameras to ensure that their breath sample is being tested, not another passenger’s.

Violating a restriction

Drivers who violate the restrictions can face immediate punishment. The MVA can suspend your license on the spot if you break the rules. But suppose you have a history of violating prior restrictions. In that case, the MVA can also revoke your license, forcing you to apply for a new one after the revocation period.

If you face a license suspension or revocation because of violating a license restriction, you can challenge it. To do this, you must request a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and pay a $150 filing fee before your suspension or revocation date. The OAH will later notify you of your hearing date and location.

During the OAH hearing, the MVA will present documents and evidence to the administrative law judge to show why your license is being suspended or revoked. It may not exactly be like a civil or criminal court, but it’s advised that a legal professional represent you in the hearing. An attorney can help you present your case and, if the judge moves forward with suspending or revoking your license, help negotiate for lighter penalties.