What is the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) process and its penalties?


In addition to criminal penalties for an alcohol related offense, there are also administrative penalties from the MVA that can affect your driving privileges. You must understand the administrative process or you could lose your license.

If you are stopped the police officer may request that you to submit to a field sobriety test or portable breath test. If you are arrested for impaired driving, the officer will advise you of your rights and provide you with an Advice of Rights form (DR-15) before requesting that you submit to a chemical (BAC) test.

If you test above the legal limit for alcohol (0.08 BAC), or refuse an officer’s request to submit to a chemical test for alcohol or drug use, you will be issued an Order of Suspension (form #DR- 015A) along with your traffic citation(s).

The police officer will confiscate your driver’s license (Maryland Drivers License Only) and may issue you a 45-day temporary paper license. That paper will be your license for now. The officer MUST give that paper license to you. You MUST carry it around as if it is your driver’s license.

Timing is critical!

Your driver’s license or privilege will be suspended on the 46th day after the Order of Suspension unless:

  1. You request a hearing within 10 days of the date of the Order of Suspension (you can still request hearing up to 30 days, but it may not stop the start of the suspension of your license) or, if eligible; Or:
  2. You elect within 30 days to participate in the Ignition Interlock System Program.

You Should Request an Administrative Hearing immediately!

Here is why and how to do so:

By requesting a hearing, you avoid having your license suspended on the 46th day. You will receive a hearing date to appear in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ), where you can argue that your driver’s license or privilege should not be suspended. You must request a hearing within 10 days of the date of the Order of Suspension to ensure that your privilege to drive is not suspended prior to your hearing.

Your request for a hearing must be made in writing. The back side of the hearing request provides information and a form to request an administrative hearing. Send your request to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) at 11101 Gilroy Rd., Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1301. You must include a check or money order for $150.00, which is the required filing fee, made payable to the “Maryland State Treasurer.” Your request for a hearing will be invalid if submitted without the required $150.00 filing fee or applicable fee waiver.

Is Fighting the Suspension a Good Idea?

It depends on a number of factors. The circumstances of your arrest, whether you have a prior DUI (with or without conviction), and how badly you need to drive your car are among these factors.

There are a number of good defenses to the MVA administrative hearing, but sometimes it is better to either take the suspension or request the interlock device. For example, if you have a high BAC or if this incident caused an accident, it might be better to consent to the Interlock, to show the judge you are willing to accept the consequences and put yourself in a better position to obtain the PBJ in the criminal case.

IMPORTANT: If you submit a valid hearing request, a suspension will not be imposed unless a decision is rendered against you, or if you fail to appear for the hearing.

MVA Penalties

If you do not challenge your DUI arrest by way of an administrative hearing, the MVA will impose the following sanctions on your license.

A) If you submitted to the test and failed: Blood Alcohol Content 0.08 through 0.14

  • 1st offense- 180 day suspension
  • 1st offense involving fatality- 180 day suspension
  • 2nd or subsequent 180 day suspension
  • 2nd or subsequent involving fatality- 1 year suspension

B) If you submitted to the test and failed: Blood Alcohol Content 0.15 or more

  • 1st offense- 180 day suspension
  • 1st offense involving a fatality- 1 year suspension
  • 2nd or subsequent offense- 180 day suspension
  • 2nd or subsequent involving fatality – revocation

C) If you refused to submit to the test:

  • 1st offense- 270 day suspension
  • 2nd or subsequent offense- 2 year suspension

D) If you were operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time:

  • 1st offense- 1 year Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) disqualification
  • 2nd or subsequent offense- lifetime CDL disqualification

E) If you were operating a commercial motor vehicle carrying hazardous materials at the time:

  • 1st offense- 3 year CDL disqualification
  • 2nd or subsequent offense- lifetime CDL disqualification

Important: In order to receive credit for the suspension, you must surrender your driver’s license or certify that you no longer have the license in your possession. 

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