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Are you required to have the interlock on a Maryland DUI?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2022 | dui/dwi |

How Maryland laws don’t always mesh with other states

In Maryland, the interlock is often the option defendants have for being able to drive despite blowing a .15 on the intoximeter, or refusing to blow into the intoximeter.

But even if you win the MVA (motor vehicle administration) hearing, you can still be required to have the interlock put in your car because a judge has discretion to impose that as a probation condition.

So let’s unpack this:

You refuse the intoximeter test back at the station. You have the MVA hearing. You win on not being properly advised (for example) you go to court and the criminal/traffic judge gives you a PBJ (probation before judgment) which is not a conviction in Maryland but you are still required to have the interlock for a year as a condition of probation. It may seem strange or to some people, even unfair, but it is very legal, and completely up to the judge.

Here’s another key point. Since October of 1998 you cannot expunge a DUI or DWI PBJ in Maryland. If you get a PBJ you cannot expunge the case because the Maryland legislature exempted the 21-902 statute from cases that could be expunged.

I represented one gentleman in Ocean City a few years ago who got a DUI in 1998. Due to failing to appear for court, his case did not end up being heard until 20 years later. He would have been eligible as the last person in Maryland to have his DUI PBJ expunged, but the judge, unhappy with the amount of time between the incident when it came to court, did not grant him the benefit of PBJ (as a footnote: both officers in question were still on the force, and miraculously still had records of the incident).

But do other states require the interlock for diversion dispositions? Do they expunge DUIs? The answer may surprise you.

In Arizona, the courts CAN expunge your DUI records.

In Arkansas, courts can also seal records and completely eradicate them if no charges are filed in a year

In California, convictions can be vacated and replaced with “dismissal of charges.”  Massachusetts allows no expungement but a “sealing of records” five years after a misdemeanor conviction.

Those are just a few state examples. But what about requiring the interlock? California does not require all offenders to have the interlock, but makes it an option for the courts, especially for offenders blowing .15 or above.

Many states either require the interlock on all DUIs or, like Maryland, require only in the instance of certain blow scores. Maryland requires the interlock at .08 and above, but it can be modified by an administrative law judge at the MVA hearing if the blow score is between .08 and .14.

Virginia requires all non-work vehicles to be equipped with an interlock even on first offenses. Washington and Utah do the same and only allow work exceptions.

It is a complex issue in Maryland, but interlocks continue to not be mandatory in Maryland for simply having a DUI of any variety. With a .08, it is up to a judge whether an interlock or for example a work restriction is most appropriate.

While sealing of records on DUIs has not yet occurred, we believe that this is also something that is up to a judge’s discretion. Current Maryland law doesn’t allow that, but this could change in the future.

Sources: Findlaw, National Conference of State Legislatures



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