Maryland separates intoxicated driving offenses into two categories: DUIs (driving under the influence) and DWIs (driving while impaired). A DUI charge occurs when a person has been driving under the influence of alcohol, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. DUI charges are more severe than DWI charges.
What are the Charges for Driving Under the Influence?
In Maryland, driving while intoxicated is a misdemeanor. If you drive drunk in Maryland, expect to be arrested, fined and or lose your license or a combination of all. Charges vary on the nature of the incident, and in some cases, offenders may face jail time.
Any person under the age of 21 who drives under the influence of alcohol breaks the law, regardless of BAC. If a minor is caught driving under the influence, they will be arrested and charged with a DUI.
First Time Offenders
A first-time DUI in Maryland can land offenders up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. If a minor was in the vehicle, the penalty could increase to two years in prison and $2,000 in fines. First-time offenders face a loss of driving privileges for 180 to 270 days.
Second-time DUI offenders face up to two years in prison and $2,000 in fines and risk having their license suspended for up to nine months.
Third-time offenders face up to five years behind bars, $5,000 in fines, and license suspension up to 12 months.
Prior DUI offenses are taken into consideration as well. Time does not always matter.
What to do at a DUI Stop
Your best defense against DUI charges is to avoid driving with any alcohol in your system. Maryland uses DUI checkpoints at which anyone can be stopped and checked without the need for probable cause.
Should you be pulled over, it is important to maintain composure. Avoid talking too much and only answer direct questions. Intoxicated people tend to be chatty and often slur their words. Remember that you have the right to remain silent.
If you have been pulled over but have not been drinking, taking a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test will not be harmful. If you are knowingly driving after having one or more drinks, you should note that your license will be suspended for failure to blow, however a skilled DUI attorney can argue your right to refuse either roadside exam as they can be unreliable.
You may be arrested, but it is better to provide as little incriminating evidence as possible.
Implied Consent Suspensions
Maryland law states that all drivers implicitly consent to breathe and blood tests. Failure of or refusal to take the test leads to license seizure. Offenders are issued a temporary license and are prohibited from driving for 12 hours following arrest.
Drivers who refuse the test face license suspension for up to 270 days. Repeat offenders who refuse the test face two years’ suspension.
Drivers can contest an implied consent suspension by requesting an MVA hearing within ten days of the suspension notice.
Driving During Suspension
Maryland drivers may continue to drive during their suspension in the event they are granted the option to install an ignition interlock device in a hearing. An ignition interlock device is mandatory for drivers convicted of:
- Alcohol-related DUIs
- Intoxicated driving with a passenger under 16 years of age
- Intoxicated driving under the legal age of 21
- Alcohol-related DWIs accompanied by a previous offense within the last five years
Your Rights After a DUI Arrest
After a DUI arrest, drivers can exercise their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to counsel. Drivers have the right to refuse to answer any questions before they have had the chance to speak with an attorney. Drivers also have the right to consult an attorney before deciding whether to take a breathalyzer test.
Drivers may dispute DUI charges if they can prove that their arrest was illegitimate. Valid reasons to contest a DUI charge include medical explanations for a driver’s behavior during an arrest, being wrongfully pulled over, or improper testing performed by an officer. You will definitely want to consult with an attorney to explore these defenses.
If you are facing DUI charges in Maryland, contact the Law Offices of Marc A. Ominsky at (443) 539-8712 for a consultation about your rights. Our attorneys are proud to offer the best legal services possible and give you an honest assessment of your case.