Following a DUI arrest, the arresting police officer is supposed to do two things. If you have a Maryland driver’s license, he is supposed to confiscate it and forward it to the MVA for destruction, meaning you will never get that particular license back irrespective if you are ultimately found not guilty of the DUI charge. He is also supposed to give you a temporary paper license on the spot (if you are otherwise entitled to drive). This temporary license is good for 45 days from the date it was issued or it is good until you attend an MVA license hearing if you timely requested one (within 10 days of your arrest). If you have an out of State driver’s license, then the officer is not authorized to take that license from you because it does not belong to the State of Maryland, like your Maryland license does. If the officer mistakenly attempts to take your out of State license, you may want to educate or remind him that he is not supposed to take that license. However, you will need to attend an MVA hearing just the same because Maryland can suspend your privilege to drive in this State only.
The interesting part of this debacle happens when an officer takes your Maryland license and fails to give you a temporary driver’s license known as a DR-15A. Technically, it is an Officer’s Order of Suspension and a temporary driver’s license all rolled up into one nifty document. The question becomes what is the status of an arrestee’s driving privilege when the officer screws it up and fails to do what he is supposed to do.
The answer is, you are basically in limbo (useful information huh?) here’s why. The officer has correctly taken your driver’s license, however your privilege to drive is not taken away as a result of the license being liberated from your possession; that would be a violation of your due process right to a hearing before losing your privilege to drive. Thus, because the officer cannot take away your right to drive as a result of the arrest, you still maintain your right to drive.
Technically speaking however, you are not in possession of a “driver’s license” or a document stating that you can drive and thus, if you were pulled over subsequently for a very serious offense, like your tag light was burnt out, and you do not have your license or a temporary license, then the proper ticket would be “driving a car without a license” in your possession. Now, if the esteemed officer wrote that ticket, when going to Court, the defense would be that it was all the arresting officer’s fault for failure to give you the proper documentation following the first incident/arrest. That should resonate with the Judge as a proper defense since the State agent, the cop, caused the situation; however, technically speaking, you are operating a car without “any” license in your possession and thus technically, a Judge could say you are guilty of the charge- albeit I wouldn’t see much coming from that, assuming it got that far in the first place.
The proper way to handle that situation would be to hot foot if over to the police precinct where your esteemed and tenacious officer works and inform either the officer or his seargent that you didn’t get your temporary license and that you need it. This assuming that you are not otherwise suspended because they won’t issue a temporary license if you are not entitled to a license in the first place. Alternatively, one could report to the MVA and try to sort through that maze and get a temporary license from them. Alternatively, one could contact us, and let us handle the matter for you thereby saving you all kinds of time, trouble and massive headache.
Bottom Line: If you are not given a temporary license by the arresting officer, assuming you are otherwise entitled to drive, your privilege to drive in the Great State of Maryland is presently in tact; however, you might get a ticket for driving without a license in your possession, which is really the officer’s fault but….that arguably does not change the fact of the matter, ie. driving without the license in your possession. In other words, the matter needs to be fixed as quickly as possible.