Expunging a charge for driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while impaired is very difficult in Maryland, and most times it is impossible. You cannot get a DUI or DWI charge expunged unless your case was dismissed/you were acquitted/found not guilty, placed on the stet docket and three years have passed (or a shorter time period if agreed to by the State and the Court), or your case was nolle prossed. DUIs and DWIs are rarely placed on the stet docket which is an inactive docket. If your DUI or DWI is part of one case number with multiple charges (sometimes happens when there was a jury trial prayer and all citations transferred together), and all charges are under the same case number and you were found guilty or given a PBJ for any of the charges, then it may still be difficult to get the DUI/DWI expunged.
The state allows law enforcement officers to charge suspected drivers with a DUI or DWI based on the evidence from a traffic stop. Police are not restricted to only charging individuals for one driving under the influence citation. Often times, multiple variations of the DUI/DWI statute are charged. That means that you may see 21-902(a), 21-902(b), 21-902(c), and/or 21-902(d), all charged for one incident. You may also be charged with reckless and/or negligent driving and/or other non-must appear payable driving offenses along with the DUI/DWI charges.
Some defendants charged with a DUI/DWI will be better off exercising their right to have a trial. This decision weighs heavily on the facts of the case, including but not limited to, observations by the officer, witnesses who saw the defendant driving, performance of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test, Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), Drug Recognition Expert Report (if charged under 21-902(c) or (d) etc. If the defendant chooses to have a bench trial (judge is the fact finder) or trial by jury (jury is the fact finder) all details of the case will be heard before a ruling as to guilt is made. Cases that end in acquittal are eligible for expungement and the Defendant should have an attorney file the proper request for a DUI expungement by drafting a motion or form and filing it with the court in the county that the DUI/DWI occurred in.
Stet, Dismissals, and Nolle Prossed Charges
Some prosecutors will opt to stet or Nolle Pross a case when the evidence is weak or they think the facts are lacking sufficient probable cause due to a variety of potential issues such as illegal search and seizure or an unlawful arrest. Officers must have sufficient suspicion (reasonable articulable suspicion) before they can investigate for probable cause, and failure to prove reasonable articulable suspicion could be a deciding factor for the prosecutor. Also, if the Defendant had a low BAC (blood alcohol content) then a prosecutor may decide to nolle pross the charges. If it is a DUI/DWI involving drugs and a DRE did not evaluate the defendant, the prosecutor may choose to stet or nolle pross. These factors could also result in a judge acquitting the defendant and prompt a subsequent case expungement by the Defendant.
Probation Before Judgement
Defendants who receive a PBJ (also known as a probation before judgement) disposition, cannot have their DUI or DWI case record expunged.