Should I Plead Guilty To My First DUI or DWI?

by Monty Yolles on October 4, 2012

Deciding whether to plead guilty to DUI/DWI charges, whether it’s your first offense or a subsequent offense, is a serious decision that should only be made after considering all the potential consequences.  In Maryland, DUI and DWI are serious traffic offenses, and can carry both administrative and criminal penalties, including fines, points on your driving record, loss of driving privileges and jail time. 

Determining how to proceed with your case requires close scrutiny of the facts and evidence. After you have been arrested, the Police provide you with various documents associated with your arrest. Most times, there is an arrest report which gives greater detail of the Police officer’s version of the events. And of course there is the client’s version of what took place.

Assuming someone is in fact guilty of DUI or DWI and the State’s Attorney is in a position to prove that, an offender needs to turn his attention towards disposition, or what the consequences of a guilty finding will be.

The judge will often look to see whether there are aggravating factors in your case, such as an accident with injuries, whether there were young children in the car at the time or a very high blood alcohol content test result.  Next, the judge will want to know whether you have submitted to an alcohol dependency assessment, the results of the assessment and whether you have begun participating in the recommended treatment program based on the results.

Offenders assessed as “social drinkers” are usually required to complete a class that meets once a week for six-weeks.  “Problem drinkers” are normally required to attend a much longer twenty-six week or fifty-two week program. 

Following a guilty plea, an offender may be fortunate enough to receive a probation before judgment (PBJ) disposition.  With a PBJ, an offender avoids a conviction on his driving record and also avoids the points associated with the alcohol offense.  

Almost always, conditions of probation will include paying all fines and court costs, attending a MADD victim impact panel and completing the recommended alcohol treatment program.  Other conditions of probation may include being supervised by the Drinking Driving Monitor Program (DDMP), obtaining permission to travel out of the State, using an alcohol ignition interlock device, abstaining from alcohol entirely and performing community service. 

One lasting consequence of a PBJ is that even though there is no conviction, the offense will stay on the offender’s Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s PBJ record forever.  A PBJ for a DUI or DWI cannot be expunged and will be available for future reference to enhance the penalties for any subsequent DUI or DWI conviction. 

Depending on your perspective, the usual consequences outlined above may not seem too difficult.  However, the penalties for a second or subsequent DUI or DWI are much tougher.  If you enter a guilty plea now for the sole reason of taking the path of least resistance and you are arrested again in the future for DUI or DWI, you may very well wish you could turn back the clock, but it just may be too late.  An experienced DUI defense attorney can review your case and help you decide whether to enter the guilty plea or fight the case in court.   

Before you plead guilty, call an experienced DUI defense lawyer for advice.  Monty Yolles, founder of THE YOLLES LEGAL GROUP, is an experienced Maryland DUI/DWI attorney who can help you consider all of your options and what you should expect if you enter a guilty plea to your first DUI or DWI.  Call Monty Yolles today at (301)670-0443 to discuss your case, or send an email inquiry to monty@yolleslaw.com.

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