I recently handled a sentencing for a client of mine for driving while impaired (DWI). Under Maryland law, one year of ignition interlock is required if you are convicted of the higher offense, driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI). However, the relevant statutes do not require it for DWI, unless the “trier of fact finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the person refused to take a test arising out of the same circumstances as the violation.” More often than not, in Maryland, a driver who refuses a breathalyzer test at the time of arrest if found guilty of anything, will not be found guilty of the higher offense DUI, only the lower DWI. So the question is what does this phrase mean, that the “trier of fact finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the person refused to take a test arising out of the same circumstances as the violation.”
The answer can be found in Wadlow v. State, 335 Md. 122, 642 A.2d 213 (1994). In Wadlow, the indictment charged the defendant with possession with intent to distribute more than 448 grams of cocaine but it did not refer to the sentencing enhancement under Art. 27, § 286 (f). Also, the jury was never asked to decide the amount of cocaine. As a result the Maryland Supreme Court reversed the part of the sentence that relied on possession of more than 448 grams. The Court said:
In Maryland, however, we have generally drawn a distinction between sentence enhancement provisions that depend upon prior conduct of the offender and those that depend upon the circumstances of the offense. In the former situation, involving recidivism, we have made it clear that determination of the requisite predicate facts is for the sentencing judge. See Maryland Rule 4–245(e) (“[T]he court shall determine whether the defendant is a subsequent offender….”). The State must give timely notice to the defendant of its intention to seek enhanced penalties because of one or more prior convictions, but that notice is not filed with the court until after the acceptance of a guilty or nolo contendere plea, or after conviction. The applicable Rule also provides that “[t]he allegation that the defendant is a subsequent offender is not an issue in the trial on the charging document….” Md.Rule 4–245(d).