Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI)
In Maryland, there are two types of drinking and driving offenses — driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI).
If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is 0.08 (8%) or higher when tested after a traffic stop, you may be charged with a DUI. If your BAC level is 0.07 (7%) or higher, you may be charged with a DWI. It is also a crime to drive while impaired by drugs (illegal or legal) or a combination of drugs and alcohol. In Maryland, DUIs and DWIs are considered misdemeanor crimes.
If you are found guilty of either a DUI or DWI, you may be incarcerated, fined, and/or have your driver’s license suspended. The severity of the penalty will depend on many factors, including whether it is the driver’s first drinking and driving offense, and the driver’s BAC level, driving record, and age at the time of the offense. Another factor is whether the driver was transporting a minor at the time of the offense.
Aside from the potential criminal penalties, there are administrative sanctions that the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may impose. When you have been charged with a DUI or DWI, your license will automatically be suspended. You will receive a temporary license that allows you to drive for 45 days. While a request for administrative hearing regarding your license suspension must be sent within 30 days, you must send your request for administrative hearing within 10 days of the traffic stop to ensure that your license is not suspended prior to your administrative hearing. If you don’t request an administrative hearing within 30 days, your license will automatically be suspended on the 46th day. An administrative law judge will preside at your hearing and impose any administrative sanctions, such as license suspension. At the administrative law judge’s discretion, and upon good cause shown, a license suspension may be modified to permit temporary driving privileges for things such as work or medical appointments.
In some circumstances, you may be entitled to participate in an ignition interlock system program through the MVA. An ignition interlock device would then be installed in your vehicle and monitor your BAC levels. While an approved third party may install an ignition interlock device, the MVA oversees the program and monitors your participation and progress.
If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you are held to stricter standards regarding DUIs or DWIs. If your BAC level is 0.04 (4%) or higher while driving a commercial vehicle, you may be charged with a DUI or DWI. As a commercial driver, even if you are driving your personal vehicle when charged with a DUI or DWI, these charges and convictions may significantly impact your CDL and commercial driving privileges.
Reclaiming Your Personal Property Through Replevin and Detinue Lawsuits
If someone has taken personal property that belongs to you, and you want the property to be returned, the legal process in Maryland for gaining return of the property and/or monetary damages for being deprived possession of the property are lawsuits known as replevin or detinue actions.
In a replevin suit, you ask the court to award you immediate (but temporary) possession of the personal property until the court can determine at a later hearing the question of who should get permanent possession. All replevin actions in Maryland must be filed in the District Court of Maryland. After your replevin action is filed with the court, the court will conduct a “show cause” hearing and determine who is entitled to immediate (but temporary) possession of the personal property. Should you prevail at the show cause hearing, the court will issue a writ of replevin entitling you to immediate possession of the personal property until the court can further determine who is entitled to permanent possession. A Sheriff may enforce the writ. Even with a writ of replevin, you may have to post a bond with the court to cover any damage to the personal property should it later be determined that you were not entitled to permanent possession. After the replevin action is resolved, the matter automatically becomes a detinue action, and the court will thereafter hold a hearing to determine who is entitled to permanent possession of the property.
If you are not seeking immediate possession of the personal property, you may instead file a detinue suit (without first filing the replevin action), and ask the Court to award you permanent possession of the personal property. Detinue actions may be filed in either the District Court of Maryland or in the local Maryland Circuit Court, depending on the value of the personal property and money damages claimed. When the value is less than $5,000, the case must be filed in the District Court of Maryland. If the value is between $5,000 and $30,000, the case may be filed in either the District Court of Maryland or the Maryland Circuit Court for the county in which the property is held. If the value is greater than $30,000, the case must be filed in the Maryland Circuit Court for the county in which the property is held. Detinue actions usually take longer to resolve, and you cannot obtain immediate possession of the personal property in a detinue action. Unlike replevin actions, however, determination by the court in a detinue action is permanent and final (subject to any appeal), and you may obtain either the personal property or its monetary value, and compensation for any damage to the personal property or money for its absence.
Maryland Laws Concerning Dog Bites
As a dog owner or someone who has been injured by a dog, understanding the law in Maryland concerning dog bites is extremely important. Maryland does not distinguish between or single out different breeds of dogs but some local jurisdictions and municipalities may have distinct ordinances.
If your dog injures someone, it is presumed that you knew or should have known that your dog was dangerous. This presumption may be rebutted and there are a few exceptions to this law, specifically, if the person injured by your dog was (1) trespassing or attempting to trespass on your property or committing a crime or attempting to commit a crime on your property; (2) committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against someone; or (3) teasing, tormenting, provoking or abusing your dog.
Additionally, there are enhanced penalties for owners of dogs if their dog has already been considered dangerous. A dog is considered dangerous if that dog has already killed or inflicted serious injury on someone without provocation or if it has been deemed and determined dangerous by Animal Control or the local government / municipality unit charged with making those determinations. If you own a dog that has been determined dangerous, there are certain legal requirements that you should understand and must follow.
Landlords may also be held liable for injuries caused by dogs owned by any of their tenants. If the landlord knew that the dog was dangerous and failed to take reasonable steps to protect the tenant, the landlord may be found liable for the tenant’s injuries.
In addition to facing a civil suit, there are also potential criminal penalties facing owners whose dog has attacked a person. So, if you are a dog owner faced with these issues or someone who has been attacked by dog, it is very important that you seek legal counsel to discuss and address these important issues.
If you have been injured by a dog, or own a dog that has injured someone else, Lewicky, O’Connor, Hunt, & Meiser can connect you with an experienced attorney to help navigate the aftermath. Our team is knowledgable on the laws in Maryland concerning dog bites, and will walk you through the legal process. Contact us today at 410-489-1996 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
What Do You Need to Know About Debt Collection Law?
Debt collection is governed by both federal and state law, specifically the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act.
Maryland law requires collection agencies to obtain a license from the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. A debtor can verify the collector’s license by visiting the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System. If a court judgment was obtained by a collector not licensed at the time of filing the collection lawsuit, then the judgment is void.
Under the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act, in order to collect a debt a debt collector or debt collection company may not use or threaten force of violence, threaten criminal prosecution, falsely disclose or threaten to disclose information that may affect your reputation for credit worthiness, engage in harassing, oppressive, or abusive communications, or use communication that gives the appearance of being approved, issued or authorized by a government agency.
If the debt collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you may contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission, or you may file suit for actual damages, up to $1000 in additional damages, as well as attorney’s fees.
Under the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act, you may contact the Maryland Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division or the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to report improper debt collection processes. You may also file suit against the debt collector and request damages for emotion distress or mental anguish.
Our law firm has years of experience in debt collection law, as well as business law, estate planning, real estate law, and more. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the specifics of debt collection law, please contact Lewicky, O’Connor, Hunt, & Meiser today at 410-489-1996 or email@example.com.