Maryland has enacted new laws and introduced legislation related to DUI offenses as a means of curbing instances of drinking and driving. Here, the DUI attorneys at Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell discuss current DUI laws in Maryland.
The dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are amply understood by every driver on the road. Yet, drunk driving is still responsible for one in three traffic deaths, making it a critical concern for drivers and law enforcement officers across the country. To assist in the fight against driving under the influence, Maryland has enacted strict laws against the crime, as detailed below.
As a response to the death of Officer Noah Leotta—a Montgomery County Police Officer who was struck and killed by a drunk driver while performing a routine field stop—Maryland legislators enacted the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016, known commonly as Noah’s Law. Under the provisions of this law, ignition interlock devices are mandatory for all drivers convicted of a DUI, DWI while transporting a minor under 16, or for those convicted of homicide or causing life-threatening injury while driving under the influence.
These devices are connected to the steering wheel and ignition of the convicted individual’s car, and require the driver to measure their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) by blowing into the device before starting their vehicle. Should the driver’s BAC measure higher than .02%, the individual will be prevented from starting their car. The device also requires individuals to measure their BAC throughout their drive.
First-time offenders are required to participate in the program for six months, while the program is mandated for second and third-time offenders for a year and three years, respectively. The implementation of Noah’s Law also increased license suspension penalties: first-time offenders with a BAC of .08% or higher will have their license suspended for 180 days. If they refuse a sobriety test, the license suspension period is 270 days.
Maryland Zero Tolerance Laws
Maryland has a “zero tolerance policy” regarding underage drinking. If a driver under the age of 21 has a BAC of .02% or higher, they will be charged with a DUI. For those over the age of 21, found to have a BAC limit at or below .07%, a DWI may be charged, although officers are advised to use their own discretion when assessing the inebriation of a driver.
Criminal and Administrative Penalties
Criminal penalties for DUIs and DWIs vary depending on the number of prior convictions on an individual’s record within the past five years. A first offense DUI can garner those convicted a $1,000 fine and year-long jail sentence, while a first offense DWI could result in two months in jail and a $500 fine.
Second and third DUI offenses could yield a two or three-year jail sentence, and a $2,000 or $3,000 fine, respectively. The penalty for a subsequent DWI offense can be up to a year in jail and a $500 fine. Those who are convicted of a DUI or DWI while transporting a minor face more severe charges: a first-time DUI offender may face two years in jail and a $2,000 fine, while first-time DWI offenders could be penalized with six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Subsequent DUI offenses can result in three or four years in jail and a $3,000 to $4,000 fine, respectively.
The Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) issues administrative point-based penalties, which can negatively impact an individual’s driving privileges and insurance rates. A DWI may result in 8 points added to a driving record, and a DUI may result in the accrual of 12 points: 8 points causes the MVA to suspend a driver’s license, and 12 points causes the MVA to revoke one. Points typically remain on a driving record for two years.
How Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell Can Help
While the law firm of Parker, Pallett, Slezak and Russell does not advocate driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, we know that mistakes and lapses in judgement occur. Despite this, those who are charged with a DUI or DWI still have rights, and deserve protection under the law. If you have been charged with a DUI or DUI, let our dedicated and experienced Baltimore defense attorneys fight for your rights in court—contact us today for more information or a consultation!