DUI Laws in Maryland

This article provides a comprehensive overview of DUI laws in Maryland, detailing the legal definitions, penalties, procedures, and resources available for those affected by DUI charges.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Maryland, with strict laws and severe penalties aimed at curbing impaired driving and ensuring road safety. This article provides a comprehensive overview of DUI laws in Maryland, detailing the legal definitions, penalties, procedures, and resources available for those affected by DUI charges.

DUI vs. DWI

In Maryland, there are two primary offenses related to impaired driving: Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI). Understanding the distinction between these two is crucial.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

A DUI charge is more severe and is typically issued when a driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. Under Maryland Transportation Code § 21-902(a), a person can be charged with DUI if they are driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

DWI (Driving While Impaired)

A DWI charge is issued when a driver’s BAC is between 0.04% and 0.07%, or if the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs to an extent that it affects their ability to drive safely. This is outlined in Maryland Transportation Code § 21-902(b).

Maryland law sets specific BAC limits for different categories of drivers:

  • Standard Drivers: 0.08% BAC for DUI and 0.04%-0.07% BAC for DWI.
  • Commercial Drivers: 0.04% BAC.
  • Drivers Under 21: Zero tolerance policy, any detectable BAC can result in charges.

Penalties for DUI and DWI

The penalties for DUI and DWI in Maryland vary based on the severity of the offense and whether it is a first or subsequent offense.

First Offense

DUI

  • Fines: Up to $1,000.
  • Imprisonment: Up to 1 year.
  • License Suspension: 6 months.
  • Points on Driving Record: 12 points.

DWI

  • Fines: Up to $500.
  • Imprisonment: Up to 2 months.
  • License Suspension: 6 months.
  • Points on Driving Record: 8 points.

Second Offense

DUI

  • Fines: Up to $2,000.
  • Imprisonment: Up to 2 years.
  • License Suspension: 1 year.
  • Points on Driving Record: 12 points.
  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock Device (IID): Required for 1 year.

DWI

  • Fines: Up to $500.
  • Imprisonment: Up to 1 year.
  • License Suspension: 9 months.
  • Points on Driving Record: 8 points.

Third and Subsequent Offenses

DUI

  • Fines: Up to $3,000.
  • Imprisonment: Up to 3 years.
  • License Suspension: 18 months.
  • Points on Driving Record: 12 points.
  • Mandatory IID: Required for 3 years.

DWI

  • Fines: Up to $500.
  • Imprisonment: Up to 1 year.
  • License Suspension: 12 months.
  • Points on Driving Record: 8 points.

Administrative Penalties

In addition to criminal penalties, drivers charged with DUI or DWI face administrative penalties from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).

Immediate License Suspension

Upon arrest for DUI or DWI, the arresting officer will confiscate the driver’s license and issue a temporary paper license valid for 45 days. The driver has 10 days to request a hearing to contest the suspension.

Ignition Interlock Program

Drivers convicted of DUI or DWI may be required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program, which involves installing a device in their vehicle that prevents it from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver’s breath.

Alcohol Education and Treatment Programs

As part of the sentencing, the court may order offenders to complete an alcohol education or treatment program. These programs aim to address the underlying issues related to alcohol abuse and prevent future offenses.

Arrest and Booking

When a driver is suspected of DUI or DWI, the arresting officer will conduct field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test. If the driver fails these tests, they will be arrested and taken to the police station for booking.

Court Process

Arraignment

The first court appearance is the arraignment, where the defendant is formally charged and enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Pre-Trial Motions

Both the defense and prosecution may file pre-trial motions, such as motions to suppress evidence or dismiss charges.

Trial

If the case goes to trial, both sides will present evidence and witnesses. The judge or jury will then determine the defendant’s guilt or innocence.

Sentencing

If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence based on the severity of the offense and any prior convictions.

Defenses Against DUI Charges

Several defenses can be used to contest DUI charges in Maryland:

Improper Stop

The defense may argue that the arresting officer did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle in the first place.

Faulty Breathalyzer

Breathalyzer machines must be properly calibrated and maintained. The defense may challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer results.

Field Sobriety Test Issues

Field sobriety tests can be subjective and influenced by factors such as the driver’s physical condition or environmental conditions.

Rising BAC Defense

The defense may argue that the driver’s BAC was below the legal limit while driving but rose above the limit by the time the test was administered.

Resources and Support

It is crucial for individuals charged with DUI or DWI to seek legal assistance. Experienced DUI attorneys can provide guidance, represent the defendant in court, and help navigate the complex legal process.

Government Resources

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) offer resources and support for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction and those affected by DUI incidents.

Conclusion

DUI laws in Maryland are stringent, reflecting the state’s commitment to road safety and reducing impaired driving incidents. Understanding the legal definitions, penalties, and procedures associated with DUI and DWI charges is essential for drivers in Maryland. By adhering to these laws and seeking appropriate legal assistance when needed, individuals can navigate the complexities of DUI charges and work towards safer driving practices.

About the author
Counsel Stack

Counsel Stack

Helpful legal information and resources

Counsel Stack Learn

Free and helpful legal information

Counsel Stack Learn

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Counsel Stack Learn.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.