An Overview of Driving on a Suspended License in Maryland
Everyone knows that a driver’s license is required to drive on the public roads throughout the United States. Driving without a valid license is a crime in the state of Maryland.
An individual may not drive or attempt to drive a vehicle in this state unless the individual has a driver’s license. An individual is also prohibited from driving when their driver’s license has been suspended or revoked.
How does a suspension occur?
There are a variety of ways which a person can end up with a suspended license in the State of Maryland. A license will be suspended by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) if an individual accumulates 8 points on their driving record, and that license will be revoked if the individual accumulates 12 points on their driving record. Points are assessed when a person is convicted of a moving violation. A conviction can occur either when the person goes to court and pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial. A conviction can also occur when a person elects to pay a ticket rather than going to court.
The number of points associated with a moving violation depends on the severity of the violation. While there are forty-two categories of violations for purposes of assessing points, some of the most common are these: a moving violation, not otherwise listed and not contributing to an accident – 1 point; speeding by 10 mph or more – 2 points; failing to stop for a school bus – 3 points; running a red light – 2 points; a moving violation contributing to an accident – 3 points; speeding in excess of 30 miles per hour – 5 points; driving without a license – 5 points; speeding in excess of 20 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone – 5 points; driving while impaired– 8 points; failing to stop after an accident – 8 points; failing to stop after an accident involving bodily injury or death – 12 points; driving under the influence – 12 points. Moving violations which are not listed here also can result in points being assessed.
A minor, with a provisional license, will have their license suspended if they accumulate 5 or more points in a 12-month period. The MVA will suspend the license for six months for a first offense, and for one year for every offense thereafter.
Maryland can suspend your driver’s license for failing to pay child support. An individual who is 60 days or more in arrears is subject to have their driver’s license suspended. In such cases, the MVA may and will likely issue a work-restricted license or work-restricted privilege to drive.
A driver’s license will also be suspended when a warrant is issued for an individual. When this happens, the MVA will notify the driver and provide the driver with an opportunity to contest the suspension. Any contest, however, is limited to whether the MVA has mistaken the identity of the individual named in the outstanding warrant, or the individual whose license or privilege to drive has been suspended.
The MVA may suspend, for a period of sixty (60) days, a person’s license for a conviction of driving while impaired by alcohol or driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Maryland will suspend your driver’s license for refusing to submit to, or failing a test for intoxication. The suspension, along with a temporary license, is issued at the time of the arrest. Under Maryland’s implied consent law, a person who drives on the road in Maryland is deemed to have consented to take a test, if the person is detained on suspicion of driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol, while impaired by alcohol, or while so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person could not drive a vehicle safely.
An individual cannot be compelled to take a chemical test; however, the refusal to do so will result in your license being suspended. If an individual’s Blood Alcohol Content(BAC) is over .08, the individual is subject to a suspension of 45 days for a first offense; and 90 days for a second or subsequent offense. If the BAC is over 0.15, the individual is subject to a suspension of 90 days for a first offense and 180 days for a second or subsequent offense.
If the driver refuses to submit to a test, the MVA will suspend your license for 120 days. For a second or subsequent offense, the MVA will suspend the license for one year.
For a non-resident, Maryland cannot suspend your driver’s license; however it can suspend your privilege to drive in Maryland. Depending on the laws of the state where the license is issued, the driver may face additional suspension or other consequences pertaining to their driver’s license.
Persons who hold commercial driver’s licenses are subject to additional restrictions when failing or refusing to submit to a test for intoxication.
How does a revocation occur?
The MVA has the authority to revoke the license of a person who is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol per se (.08 BAC), or driving under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance.
The MVA can also revoke your license if you are convicted of driving while impaired and you have, within the previous three years, received two or more convictions for driving under the influence, driving under the influence per se, driving while impaired by drugs or drugs and alcohol, or driving while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance.
The MVA must revoke the license of an individual convicted for homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, impaired by alcohol, or impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, or a controlled dangerous substance.
What happens after my license is suspended?
When the MVA suspends your license, you are legally prohibited from driving in the State of Maryland. The MVA must send you a notice, by certified mail, stating the duration of the suspension or revocation, and advising you that you have the right, within ten (10) days of the day the notice is sent, to request a hearing on the matter. If you do not request a hearing within ten days, the suspension or revocation takes effect at the end of the ten (10) day period.
What happens if my license is revoked?
If your license is revoked, you will have to reapply for a license. While you may reapply as soon as you surrender your license to the MVA, your license cannot be reinstated until six months after you surrender your license. If you do not have a Maryland driver’s license, you can be reinstated six months after the effective date of the revocation. If your license was previously revoked, there is a one-year waiting period before you may have your license reinstated. Additional waiting periods apply for multiple revocations.
For how long will my license be suspended?
The duration of your suspension depends on your driving record and the reason why it was suspended in the first place. Except as otherwise noted herein, a suspension will usually be for a period between two (2) and thirty (30) days. If your license is being suspended for a second or subsequent time, the minimum time period is fifteen (15) days and the maximum period is ninety (90)days, except as otherwise noted in this article.
If your license is suspended based on child support arrears, there is no specific time period for the suspension. Instead the license may be reinstated either when the MVA receives a court-order that the license be restored, or the arrearage has been paid in full; or the individual has demonstrated good faith by paying the ordered amount for 6 consecutive months.
A person who, within five years, receives two convictions for driving under the influence or driving while impaired may be suspended for up to a year. If the driver is under the age of twenty-one, however, the person may be suspended for a year after a first conviction and may be suspended for two years after a second or subsequent conviction.
What can I do if I need to drive?
Depending on the circumstances under which your license was suspended, there may be some options available to you. If your license was suspended due to an accumulation of points resulting from a drug or alcohol related driving offense, you may be able to obtain a restricted license from the MVA by participating in the Ignition Interlock Program.
You may be able to obtain a modified driver’s license during the time period which your suspension applies. A modified license typically allows you to drive only for purposes of work, school, or for an alcohol-treatment program.
A person who is facing the suspension or revocation of their license has the right to request a hearing. In some cases, where there are multiple factors contributing to a suspension, the person may be able to consolidate the issues for one hearing.
Ignition Interlock Program and License Modification
If you are convicted of certain alcohol-related driving offenses, you may be permitted to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program. The interlock program works by having the driver get a device installed in the vehicle that requires the driver to provide a breath sample periodically while driving. The vehicle will not operate if the driver is above the permissible threshold. The interlock program is available to those people are not otherwise eligible to receive a modified or restricted license. This generally applies when the individual has tested at an alcohol level in excess of 0.15 BAC or has refused to take the test. An individual eligible for interlock, but who fails to have the device installed, will have their license suspended.
If the individual’s blood alcohol level is between .08 and .15, and the individual has not had an alcohol related suspension, or conviction, within the previous five years, the individual may receive a modified or restricted license during the suspension period. In order to obtain a restricted license, the individual needs to show that he must drive to get to work, school, to obtain healthcare, or to get to an alcohol treatment or education program. The licensee must also show that he or she has no alternative means of transportation to or from the licensee’s place of employment, healthcare provider, or school.
In addition to a suspension following conviction of certain alcohol related offenses, drivers face a potential suspension of their license if they refuse to submit to a chemical test for intoxication at the time of a stop, or if their BAC is above the legal limit when stopped.
In some cases, a person may elect to participate in the interlock program rather than have their license suspended, without a hearing. In order to be eligible, the person must meet the following requirements: (1) the person’s driver’s license is not currently suspended, revoked, cancelled or refused; (2) the violation did not arise out of circumstances that involved the death of; or serious injury to, another person; (3) the person surrenders a valid Maryland driver’s license or signs a statement certifying that the driver’s license is no longer in their possession; and (4) the person elects, in writing, within the time requirements for requesting a hearing, to meet the ignition interlock system requirements, for one year.
If an individual obtain a modified license based on participation in the ignition interlock program, but fails to successfully complete the program, the MVA will suspend the license for the full period applicable to the underlying violation. The individual is entitled to an administrative hearing prior to the suspension and will receive a notice to that effect, by mail. If a hearing is requested, the suspension will not take effect until after the hearing takes place.
The Importance of Acting Quickly
If you are facing a potential suspension of your driver’s license, it is important that you act quickly. Depending on the circumstances, you may be at a disadvantage if you delay action. If you are facing a possible suspension for an alcohol-related offense, you will want to submit a hearing request within ten (10) days from the date of your arrest.
If you are facing a potential suspension for refusal to submit to a chemical test for intoxication, or for a test resulting in an alcohol concentration of .08 or more, you are entitled to a hearing. The hearing takes place before an administrative law judge, usually at an MVA facility. Although the hearing takes place at the MVA building, the judge who hears your case is independent of the MVA. Administrative law judges hear all types of cases involving government agencies throughout the state of Maryland.
When an individual is arrested for an alcohol-related traffic offense, the officer will generally confiscate the individual’s license and issue a temporary license valid for forty-five (45) days.. The paperwork provided to the driver, by the officer will contain a hearing request form. If the hearing request form is completed and returned, within ten (10) days of the arrest, the MVA will schedule a hearing within the forty-five (45) day window. If a hearing request is made, after ten days, but within 30 days, the person may continue to drive during the forty-five (45)days for which the temporary license is valid, but is not permitted to drive after the forty-five (45) days has elapsed.
The Issues at an MVA Hearing following an Alcohol-Related Offense
Depending on the reasons that an individual is facing a potential suspension of his or her license, various issues may be relevant to the case. Probably the most common reason that we see for persons facing a potential suspension is for refusing to submit to a chemical test, or for a test result indicating a BAC of .08 or above. When an individual is facing a suspension for an alcohol-related traffic offense, there are seven (7) issues that are relevant to the judge’s decision:
- Whether the police officer who stops or detains a person has reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol, while impaired by alcohol, while so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, that the person could not drive a vehicle safely, while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance, in violation of an alcohol restriction, or in violation of restrictions placed on operators of commercial vehicles.
- Whether there was evidence of the use by the person of alcohol, any drug, any combination of drugs, a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, or a controlled dangerous substance.
- Whether the police officer requested a test after the person was fully advised as required by law, of the administrative sanctions that shall be imposed.
- Whether the person refused to take the test.
- Whether the person drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more at the time of testing.
- Whether the person drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of .15 or more at the time of testing.
- If a hearing involves disqualification of a commercial instructional permit or a commercial driver’s license, whether the person was operating a commercial motor vehicle or held a commercial instructional permit or a commercial driver’s license.
The determination of any facts by the Administration is independent of the determination of the same or similar facts in the adjudication of any criminal charges arising out of the same occurrence. The disposition of criminal charges will not affect any suspension imposed by the MVA.
If the MVA imposes a suspension or disqualification following a hearing, the person whose license or privilege to drive has been suspended or disqualified, may appeal the final order of suspension to the Circuit Court for which the person resides. If the person is a non-resident, the person can appeal to the Circuit Court for the county in which the underlying offense occurred.
A suspension may be stayed, pending an appeal, upon application to the Director of the Division of Administrative Adjudication.
Other Basis for Suspension or Revocation of a License
While the majority of suspensions and revocations are addressed above, there are some additional grounds on which a license can be suspended or revoked. These include:
- That a licensee has been convicted of moving violations so often as to indicate an intent to disregard the traffic laws and the safety of other persons on the highway
- That a licensee is unfit, or habitually reckless or negligent driver of a motor vehicle;
- That a licensee has permitted an unlawful or fraudulent use of a license, identification card, or a facsimile of a license or identification card;
- That a licensee has used a license, identification card, or facsimile of a license or identification card in an unlawful or fraudulent manner;
- That a licensee has committed an offense in another state that, if committed in Maryland, would be grounds for suspension or revocation;
- That a licensee has knowingly made a false certification of required security in any application for a certificate of title or for the registration of a vehicle.
- That a licensee fails to attend a driver improvement program or an alcohol education program after being directed to do so by the MVA.
- That a licensee violated the terms of a provisional license
- That the licensee violated certain weapons restrictions or made threats.
Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor in the State of Maryland. Depending on the nature of the suspension, and your prior record, it carries a penalty ranging between $500 and 2 months in jail and $1,000 and 2 years in jail.
In a driving while suspended case, the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant knew or should have known that his license was suspended. When a license is suspended, the state is required to send notice to the licensee by certified mail. If the state cannot prove that notice was mailed to the defendant, then the state will not be able to secure a conviction.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. can assist you if you are facing a potential license suspension, or charges of driving on a suspended license. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation, in-office-consultation for any driving related criminal charges or to review your rights in connection with a potential license suspension.