Probation Before Judgment in DUI and DWI Cases

Experienced Baltimore Maryland DUI/DWI Attorney discusses Probation Before Judgment under Maryland Law. For those who are not familiar with the term “probation before judgment” or PBJ, it is a sentencing alternative that the trial judge may utilize in DUI and DWI cases, typically in cases where a person is a first offender. Probation Before Judgment is found in the Criminal Procedure Article (Sect. 6-220) and allows a judge who has found a defendant guilty of a crime, in this case DUI or DWI, to strike that guilty finding and allow a person to serve a period of probation without the conviction on his or her record.

So long as the person does not violate his or her probation the conviction will never go on their record. This disposition is particularly valuable in DUI cases as it spares the defendant the 8 or 12 points that would accrue on the person’s record as a result of the conviction which invariable leads to action, including possible suspension or revocation of a person’s driver’s license, by the Motor Vehicle Administration.

One of the most common misunderstandings about probation before judgment in DUI/DWI cases is that, contrary to popular belief, a defendant is NOT entitled to have the DUI or DWI expunged from his record after completing the period of probation. In criminal cases and in most other serious traffic offenses, a defendant is entitled to have the entire matter expunged from his or her record after a period of time if that person is not subsequently charged with another offense. In criminal cases that period of time is 3 years.

Once that period has expired the person must file an expungement request with the court and so long as the person has not been subsequently convicted of a criminal offense or is pending new criminal charges, the person has an absolute right to have all records of the incident including electronic records, expunged from the system. Unfortunately this is not true of DUI and DWI cases. The Statute, Criminal Procedure Section 6-220 specifically excludes DUI’s and DWI’s from consideration fro expungement. The good news is that these records are not available to the insurance companies or the public so they can not be used as a basis to raise insurance rates or deny employment. The bad news is they are forever available to law enforcement should a person find him or herself similarly charged in the future.

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