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Maryland DUI Law

Of the 643 traffic fatalities that occurred on Maryland roads in 2004, one third involved a driver who was over the legal limit (209 deaths) and nearly 20% involved a driver who had a blood alcohol content of twice the legal limit (107 deaths).

Legal Limit

The state of Maryland has two levels of drunk driving. Maryland law provides that anyone driving with a  Blood Alcohol Concentration of greater than .08 or more at the time of testing is “under the influence of alcohol per se.”   The chemical test is not a prerequisite to conviction under Maryland law, however.  Several cases have held that a person may be convicted of driving under the influence without a chemical test.  Maryland Courts allow the testimony of police officers to establish that a person was driving under the influence of alcohol. 

Maryland also includes a lesser offense of “driving while impaired,” which does not have a set legal limit but is established when the officer has determined that your driving to be “substantially impaired” by drugs or alcohol.

Refusal of Chemical Tests:  Maryland law says that anyone who is driving on highways or private property is deemed to have consented to be tested by breath (for alcohol) or blood sample (alcohol or drugs), drivers still maintain the right to refuse the test.  However, the consequences of this refusal are:

  • Maryland Residents
    • First Offense: Suspension of Driver’s License for 120 days
    • Second/Subsequent Offense: Suspension of Driver’s License for 1 year.
  • Non-Residents
    • First Offense: Suspension of Driving Privileges for 120 days
    • Second/Subsequent Offense: Suspension of Driving Privileges for 1 year.

Sufficient Evidence to Make a Traffic Stop:  The State always has to prove that the traffic stop was a lawful one.  The office has to be able to articulate the reason that he pulled you over.  Typically this involves the vehicle weaving in and out of a lane or the failure to use a turn signal.  

Penalties

Driving Under the Influence

  • Maximum 1 year in jail and/or $1,000 fine
  • 12 Points on your license

Homicide by Motor Vehicle While Driving Under the Influence

  • Standard: BAC over .08, negligent driving, and a death
  • Maximum 5 years in jail and/or $5,000 fine

Driving Under the Influence with a Minor in the Car

  • Maximum 2 years in jail and/or $ 2,000 fine
  • 12 Points on your license

Driving While Impaired by Drugs or Alcohol

  • Maximum 60 days in jail and/or $500 fine
  • 8 Points on your license

Driving While Impaired with a  Minor in the Car

  • Maximum 6 months in jail and/or $1,000 fine
  • 8 Points on your license

Manslaughter by Automobile

  • Standard: Grossly negligent driving and alcohol involved
  • Maximum 10 years in prison and/or $5,000 fine
  • Felony

Ignition Interlock System:  The court may, at its discretion, apply the additional penalty of an Ignition Interlock System to anyone found guilty of DUI, DWI.  The court may require this system for up to three years.  The Ignition Interlock System connects to the vehicles ignition system and prevents the car from starting if the driver is over the calibrated blood alcohol level (usually between .02 and .04).  Maryland Statutes also make it illegal to ask someone else to blow into your Interlock System or to blow into the system of another.  The system costs about $1,000.

Consumption of Alcohol on the Highways:  Passengers in motor vehicles may not consume alcohol or possess open containers of alcohol.