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Understanding Maryland’s Impaired Driving Laws

Drinking and driving in the state of Maryland is illegal, as it is elsewhere in the United States. If you are arrested for an offense related to impaired driving in the state, you can face immediate administrative sanctions, as well as criminal penalties and driver’s license sanctions if convicted.

Legal Limit on Blood Alcohol Concentration Level

In Maryland, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is 0.08 grams. If you test above that amount, you will be issued a citation as well as an Order of Suspension, wherein the officer will confiscate your license and issue a 45-day temporary license. If you were driving a commercial vehicle at the time of the test, you could find your commercial driving status revoked as well.

Comparing a DWI to a DUI in Maryland

You may hear the terms DWI and DUI used interchangeably, but there are some notable differences. DUI is a 0.08 BAC or above, which means you are under the influence of alcohol. DWI can refer to driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs and has a BAC of 0.07 or lower. DWI is considered a less severe crime than DUI. In general, for commercial drivers, your BAC limit is only 0.04 before you are potentially convicted of DWI or DUI.

Criminal Penalties for DUI & DWI

It is important to understand what the potential penalties are for a DWI or DUI. The criminal punishments a convicted offender could face will vary based on the number of prior offenses related to a DUI or DWI.

Penalties for DUI convictions can be:

  • First Offense: Up to $1,000 fine and one year in jail; 12 points on your driving record and your license can be revoked for up to six months
  • Second Offense: Up to $2,000 fine and up to two years imprisonment; 12 points on your driving record and your license may be revoked for up to one year

If you are convicted of two offenses within five years, there is a mandatory suspension that will be followed by participation in the Ignition Interlock Program. You may also be required to participate in an alcohol abuse program.

Penalties for DWI convictions are slightly lower:

  • First Offense: Up to $500 fine and two months in jail; 8 points on your driving record and license suspension of 9-12 months; if under 21, 1-year suspension
  • Second Offense: Up to $500 fine and one year in jail; 8 points on your driving record and license suspension of 9-12 months; if under 21, 2-year suspension

Those transporting a minor when stopped, or facing a third offense, will find the penalties are much higher.

What is Noah’s Law?

In 2016, Maryland amended the drunk driving laws and enacted the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016, also called Noah’s Law. The law is named after Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who was killed by a drunk driver during a routine stop. It also expands the Ignition Interlock Program, which is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a certain level of alcohol on the driver’s breath.

Civil Liability in DWI/DUI Cases

If you get into an accident that is the result of impaired driving, you may find yourself facing a civil lawsuit as well as dealing with a criminal defense case. Conviction for DWI or DUI does not automatically mean you are found liable in the civil matter, but statements made during the criminal trial may be admissible. If you are the passenger of someone who caused an accident while under the influence, beware of the insurance company placing blame on you for getting in the vehicle. There may be mitigating circumstances and arguments that can be made in your defense.

Contact Maryland DUI Lawyer Robert R. Castro

DUI related offenses carry heavy criminal penalties and could lead to you being sued in civil court. If you want to do all you can to prevent such burdensome consequences, it is important that you contact an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer. Do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Robert. R Castro as soon as you need legal assistance. You can begin by scheduling a free consultation.