A New Guide to Understanding the Maryland DWI Laws for Public Safety
DUI laws in Maryland cover both driving under the influence and driving while impaired, and the consequences can be quite serious. Get the facts here.
Basics of Maryland DWI Laws
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI), you may need legal representation as this is a serious crime with heavy penalties.
Operating a commercial motor vehicle may have different terms like DUI, OUI (operating under the influence), or DWI (driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired) and mean other things in different localities and states. Driving impaired is a criminal offense regardless of where it happens or what it is called.
Anyone who is driving any motorized vehicle can get a DUI or DWI. This includes water crafts like boats, riding lawn mowers, golf carts, and even bicycles or mopeds. Those intoxicated on a skateboard or rollerblades may be charged with public intoxication, but they will not get a DUI.
The criminal offense of Maryland DUI convictions can have criminal and civil or administrative penalties. While criminal penalties could result in a criminal record, criminal proceedings also allow defendants to go to trial to deny wrongdoing.
Civil penalties may include fines, temporary license suspension, and enrollment in a substance abuse program. In some cases, the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may require the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
The stakes are even higher for commercial license drivers caught driving impaired because they will also lose their livelihood.
Since Maryland and the criminal justice system can seem complicated, a reputable DUI defense attorney like Paolo Gnocchi from Scrofano Law can clarify them for you.
Maryland DUI Laws Information
According to Maryland law, when a person is charged with Maryland DWI convictions, they should be aware of several things. Of course, issues vary based on state. A licensed attorney can build a great attorney-client relationship and educate you on the laws surrounding an intoxicated driving incident in your case and the laws of your area.
The most important thing to remember regarding a DUI offense is that they are complicated. No matter what happens, they all begin the same way: a police officer stops you or pulls you over while driving under the influence.
The police officer only needs to have a suspicion that you are impaired. They do not need warrants or documents like they would for a search. Suspicion could come from behavior, erratic driving, driving posture, or any other reason they deem worthy of making a stop.
Once a stop is made, the officer can administer a breathalyzer or field sobriety test to help confirm the person is intoxicated or impaired by a controlled dangerous substance. The officer will have the suspect submit to a blood test, urine test, or other medical tests if they think there is reason to believe that intoxicants are located in the body.
Additional DUI and DWI Information
It is universally accepted in the United States that anything over a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 is legally intoxicated. This is a federal standard that may vary in certain areas.
If a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is over 0.08, you have very little chance of arguing you were not impaired in court. However, your attorney may call into question the method of the BAC chemical test.
Your blood alcohol concentration supersedes all other measures. For example, even if one passes every other test, their BAC being over 0.08 will be looked at, and they will be arrested and possibly convicted of a DUI.
Understanding the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration Penalties
According to Maryland statutes, it is called a per se violation if a person drives with a BAC of over 0.08.
Section 2-50 states that it is illegal to drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle when the driver is under the influence of alcohol. Section 21-902(a). Driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle is a further violation.
If, after a hearing, a driver is convicted of a DUI with an alcohol level of 08 or greater, and it is the first DUI, then the driver faces up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Section 27-101(k)(1)(i). However, if there was at least one minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the driver faces up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Section 27-101(q)(1)(i).
Even if it is the first 0ffense, it benefits you to hire a DUI lawyer, as it may save money and potential prison time or the need to be involved in the ignition interlock program if there are subsequent DUI charges.
Second Offense of a DUI in Maryland
If a driver is convicted of an offense of DUI alcohol and drivers have a prior conviction of any drunk driving-related offense, the driver faces up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Section 27-101(k)(1)(ii).
A second subsequent DUI may also severely impact a defendant’s ability to drive. Not only does a conviction result in 12 points on a defendant’s driving record, but the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA)can also review their driving record and initiate revocation proceedings of their driver’s license.
If there was at least one minor in the vehicle at the time of the violation, the driver faces additional laws and penalties, including up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $3,000. Section 27-101(q)(1)(ii).
According to the Maryland MVA, if a driver is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and has at least two prior convictions of any drunk driving-related offenses, the driver faces up to three years in prison and/or a $3,000 fine. Section 27-101(k)(1)(iii).
However, suppose there was at least one person under the age of 21 in the vehicle at the time of the offense. In that case, the driver faces the penalty of up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $4,000, a driver’s license suspension, or a required installation of an ignition interlock device. Section 27-101(q)(1)(iii).
There Are New MD DUI Laws
According to the new DUI laws, beginning on October 1, 2019, drunk and drugged drivers and watercraft operators in Maryland face tougher penalties, fines, as well as longer jail sentences for causing fatal accidents while operating a boat or driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
They may also be subject to the “Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act.” This increases jail time and penalties for the first offense, those with multiple violations, and those who cause life-threatening injuries to others.
Like all other areas, DUI in Maryland is defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration BAC of 0.08 or higher. According to Jeanette Tejeda de Gomez of AAA Mid-Atlantic, “If you’re driving a boat or operating a commercial vehicle, you’re still putting lives at risk.”
Before the new law, offenders could get no jail time and up to five years in Maryland if they caused an accident. Now, they have a harsher “three strikes” administrative mandate that carries penalties of up to ten years in jail and $10,000 for three DUI convictions.
The 10-year maximum penalty may also apply to anyone who already has prior convictions for homicide by vehicle or vessel or causing life-threatening injury by vehicle or vessel while under the influence.
Also, this will double if minors are in the vehicle or you’re a commercial driver. The law increased first-time convictions of vehicular homicide to five years. This is one of many reasons why hiring a DUI lawyer is a good idea.
DUI Laws in Maryland First Offense Criminal Penalties
In the state of Maryland, a first-time DUI conviction means you could face up to one year in jail and fines of $1,000. These are doubled if there is a minor in the car. Then, you could be looking at two years in prison and $2,000 in fines. Additionally, drivers will lose their driving privileges for between 180 and 270 days.
DWI & DUI Offense Timeline in Maryland
Driving while impaired by alcohol or driving under the influence of alcohol is prohibited in Maryland. Thus, DWI and DUI laws in Maryland are strict and follow a specific timeline. Here are the details of events from a DUI arrest until the end of the case.
Traffic Stop & Blood Alcohol Content Test
A police officer can stop you while driving on suspicion of being impaired by alcohol. One stop, the police officer will ask you for your corporation in checking your driving license, vehicle and running a BAC test. On refusal of the BAC test, the officer can confiscate the driver’s license. The same will happen if the blood alcohol content measured by the test is above 0.08 percent.
During this stage, the police officer will provide you with a temporary paper license that will work for you for 45 days, and the suspension will start from the 46th day. The license suspension will range from 180 days to 2 years, depending on the prior alcohol-related offenses or DUI penalties.
Administrative Hearing for License Suspension
The Maryland DUI laws allow the driver to ask the Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) for a hearing. The driver has to submit an application within 30 days of the suspension, but if you want to avoid license suspension, you must submit the request for a hearing within ten days of the traffic stop.
During the administrative hearing, the court will consider the valid grounds to believe that the person has committed a drunk driving offense or was trying to attempt an intoxicated driving conviction.
Hiring a DUI Attorney in Maryland
Since you can face serious penalties for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is crucial to hire a knowledgeable, licensed attorney with experience in DUI cases, especially if it is your first DUI.
They can create a solid criminal defense strategy, examine the evidence against you, including if your blood alcohol concentration BAC was obtained lawfully, and negotiate on your behalf. With their help, you can potentially avoid jail time and get back to your life.
Get legal advice to avoid a DUI and DWI conviction that may help you avoid a license suspension period of as few as 45 days, 180 days, or up to 2 years. Contact trusted DUI attorney Paolo Gnocchi today for a free consultation on your first DUI.