New DUI Penalties Take Effect Oct. 1, 2016

On October 1, 2016, the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016 (Noah’s Law) took effect. This new law dramatically increases the administrative penalties  for failing or refusing to take a chemical test for alcohol concentration and now makes participation in the ignition interlock program mandatory for persons convicted of DUI or DWI (but not for persons who receive probation before judgment).

Increased Administrative Penalties

When a driver is stopped and a police offer has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the driver is under the influence or impaired, the officer may request that the driver submit to a chemical test for alcohol concentration or, in some cases, a drug test. Before requesting this, the officer must “fully advise” the driver of the administrative sanctions that the driver is facing as a result of the test. As of October 1, 2016, the current Advice of Rights form is the 10-16 edition.

Noah’s law increased the penalties for taking and failing or refusing to take a test.

  • For first test results of 0.08 to .14, the sanction increases from a 45-day suspension to a 180-day suspension.
  • For second or subsequent test results of .08 to.14, the sanction increased from a 90-day suspension to a 180-day suspension
  • For high test results of .15 or higher, the first offense sanction increases from a 90-day suspension to a 180-day suspension and second or subsequent high test results increase from a 180-day suspension to a 270-day suspension.
  • The penalties for test refusals increase the most, with suspensions for a first refusal increasing from 120 days to 270 days and second or subsequent refusals increasing from a 1 year to a 2 year suspension.

Only persons who take the test and have a result of .08 to .14 are eligible, after a hearing, to request a work-restricted license. For high test results and refusals, only the ignition interlock program is available. In lieu of the above sanctions, drivers with a  high test result or a refusal can opt in to the Ignition Interlock program for one year. Only Maryland drivers may participate in the interlock program.

Mandatory participation in the Ignition Interlock for certain persons convicted of DUI or DWI

Noah’s law requires a judge at sentencing to require a person to participate in the ignition interlock program if they are convicted of DUI or DUI per se. For first offenses, the length of the program is 6 months, for second offenses, 1 year, and for third or subsequent offenses, 3 years.

For drivers who are convicted of the lesser offense of DWI and who are found to have refused to take the breath test, the convicted driver will be required to participate in the ignition interlock program for one year.

Effect of probation before judgment

Drivers who receive the disposition of probation before judgment are not considered (except for CDL purposes) of being “convicted” of DUI or DWI, so they are not subject to mandatory participation in the ignition interlock program. The enhanced penalties for DUI convictions make it more important than ever to attempt to qualify for probation before judgment as a disposition or to obtain an acquittal of DUI charges.

The new laws and regulations that took effect October 1, 2016 significantly enhance the administrative penalties for persons who are charged with or convicted of DUI or DWI.

How to challenge these new penalties

To challenge the administrative penalties by requesting an MVA hearing, drivers must request a hearing within 10 days of the date of their stop. To determine what your rights are, consult with one of the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Anthenelli, Phoebus & Hickman, LLC today.