Thomas G. WitkopLaw Offices

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Ignition Interlock Has No Points

My client as a result of an alcohol test refusal was ordered to participate in the ignition interlock program. My client was unable to enroll and consequently his license was suspended. As bad luck would have it he was pulled over by the police and charged with driving with a suspended license as well as driving in violation of an interlock restriction.

Montgomery County has recently changed their District Court trial procedure. For as long as I can remember (almost 30 years) the states attorney was the entity which called the docket. In other words, the states attorney could call whatever cases they wanted and basically whatever order they wanted. This was a great benefit to them. If they were not ready for the case, for example, their police officers were not present to testify, they could wait on that case and call other cases instead.

This procedure changed on May 1, 2016. Henceforth the court is calling the cases. That means that the prosecution needs to be ready when the case is called and has to have their evidence ready to go. Likewise, the defense needs to be ready. In this particular case I told my client to get to the court house early in the hope that the case would be called and the prosecution would not be ready. My client who was facing a bit of jail time if he lost because of his not very good driving record, followed my instructions and appeared on time.

The defense was ready and the prosecution was not. The case was called and the judge, quite reasonably, passed the case for a few minutes for the prosecution to find their witness.

The plea offer was plead guilty to violating an interlock restriction. That is an interesting charge in Maryland. It carries up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine for a first offense and two years in jail for a second offense. It doesn't however carry any points with it. My client was also charged with driving while suspended which can carry either 12 points or three points depending on the situation. It's certainly worth considering taking a guilty plea when there are no points associated with it which can have a negative impact on your driving privilege as well as your insurance.

The plea offer was ultimately moot because the officer did not show. The prosecution was ready to drop the case. I told the prosecution rather than drop the entire case my client would pay a $50 ticket for failure to display a license on demand. Why would I tell my client to pay a ticket and lose some money when the prosecution was ready to drop the case. The answer is that the prosecution had the right to recharge the case in the future. A dropped case or technically, a case entered nolle prosequi, may be recharged by the prosecution under many circumstances. There is no double jeopardy bar when a case is dropped generally. By having my client pay the $50 ticket my client and the prosecution struck a bargain. In exchange for paying $50 they would drop all the rest of the charges. That bargain is enforceable and precludes the state from recharging my client again.

When resolving your case, think of whether the prosecution can bring back the charges. Obviously it's better to put a period on the end of your case and be done with it.
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