Driving while intoxicated is dangerous, not only for other drivers but for the driver and for their passengers. It’s reckless and should be avoided at all costs.
In Maryland, it is even more of a problem than you might think. Drunk driving killed 550 people in 2017. Drinking and driving is illegal in Maryland and can cost someone the privilege of operating a motor vehicle. While it is a serious offense, it does not automatically mean the end of driving for the person charged. But, first, let’s examine what is considered “drunk driving.”
Two Levels of Drinking and Driving
Maryland has two categories of drunk driving: “driving under the influence” (DUI) and “driving while intoxicated” (DWI).
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a driver with a .08 or above of blood alcohol concentration. That level is all they need so no breath tests or field sobriety tests are needed. (Commercial drivers have a higher limit at .04.)
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is for drivers who have a .07 or below blood alcohol concentration. It also includes drugs and other substances.
Underage drivers (under the age of 21, the legal drinking age in Maryland) has a limit of .02. This is known as a “zero tolerance”.
A DUI carries stiffer penalties than a DWI.
Penalties and Sentences for DUI/DWI
A first offense can lead to jail and fine up to $500. A second offense can lead to a one-year jail sentence and a fine up to $500.
If the drunk driver had children with them, then they could be sentenced up to a maximum of two years and $4000. Sentences and fines vary due to the number of children in the car and whether it was a first, second or third offense or more.
Additionally, due to a law that took effect on 10/1/2016, those convicted of a DUI or certain DWIs are required to install and use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). The IID requires the offender to blow into it to prove sobriety before getting behind the wheel.
Many Maryland citizens who have been convicted of a DUI or a DWI in District Court may think that their ability to drive a car in the state may forever be affected. This may not be the case, at all.
There are several additional steps that may be taken after a conviction in District Court:
- If you are found guilty of DUI/DWI in district court, you can do a de novo appeal at the circuit court. It means you can file an appeal in the circuit court. You are not bound and limited to the district court record. They hear the case from the beginning.
- Upon a conviction of DUI/DWI in district court, the MVA may notify you of additional sanctions. Request an administrative hearing about the license suspension. It must be requested within 15 days of the date of the letter.
A DUI or DWI doesn’t mean the end of driving in the state of Maryland. It is, however, a serious offense and the appeal process can be complicated. If you or a friend or family member have been charged, make sure they have proper counsel, preferably an experienced DUI/DWI attorney.