As in other states, it is illegal to drive when intoxicated in Maryland. If you are arrested for drunk driving, you could be charged with driving while impaired (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). Both are serious offenses, and you face harsh punishments, such as a jail sentence and fines, if you are convicted. However, you may be able to fight the charges with the help of an experienced DUI attorney.
When Impairment May Be Presumed Under Maryland Law
Under Maryland Code Section 10-307, there are certain presumptions of intoxication or lack of it depending on a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). They are as follows:
- Below 0.05 percent BAC. The presumption is that the person is not impaired or intoxicated. To be convicted of DWI, the prosecutor must present other clear evidence that the person was impaired. Indications of impairment can include driving erratically or failing a field sobriety test.
- 0.05 to 0.06 percent BAC. There also is no presumption of impairment or intoxication. However, the prosecutor can prove a driver is guilty of DWI through the combination of the BAC results and other evidence of intoxication.
- 0.07 percent BAC. There is a presumption under Maryland law that the individual is impaired due to alcohol consumption if his BAC is between 0.07 and 0.08 percent.
- 0.08 percent BAC. If the accused’s BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, there would be a presumption of a DUI per se violation.
DWI Offense and Penalties
Maryland Code Section 91-202(B)) makes it a crime to drive while intoxicated. However, a DWI charge is a less serious offense than DUI. A person can be charged with this offense if he exhibits signs of impairment, but his blood alcohol content (BAC) is below 0.08 percent. As noted above, there would be a presumption of DWI if his BAC is between 0.07 and 0.08 percent.
The punishment for DWI is not as harsh as for a DUI conviction. The sentence will be dependent on the number of convictions for DWI or DUI a person had in the last 10 years. The potential penalties include:
- First offense. Up to 60 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $500
- Second offense. Up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $500
- Third offense. Up to five years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000
DUI Offense and Penalties
Maryland Code Section 91-202(A) makes it a per se DUI offense to drive with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. This means that the prosecutor does not need to prove other indications of intoxication for a driver to be convicted of DUI.
As with DWI, a person’s sentence will depend on how many prior DWI or DUI convictions he had within the last 10 years. The punishments are as follows:
- First offense. Up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000
- Second offense. Up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,000
- Third offense. Up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000
If the individual was convicted of DUI or DWI within the last five years, there is a minimum jail sentence of five days which would be increased to 10 days for two prior convictions. He may also be required to complete an alcohol and drug assessment.
Penalties for DWI and DUI Also Include Suspension of Your Driver’s License
Drivers convicted of DWI and DUI would also have their driver’s license suspended. Driver’s licenses are also suspended if they refuse a chemical test, which they are required to submit to under Maryland’s implied consent law, or fail a chemical test. Here is how suspensions work:
- DUI conviction. A 6-month suspension for first offense, 9-month suspension for second offense, and 12-month suspension for a third offense
- Test refusal. A 270-day suspension for first offense and 2-year suspension for second and third offense
- Test failure 0.08 to 0.15 percent. A 180-day suspension for first, second, or third offense
- Test failure at 0.15 percent or over. A 180-day suspension for first offense and 270-day suspension for second or third offense
The suspensions can overlap if there are multiple grounds for suspending a driver’s license from one incident. If a driver’s BAC was under 0.15 percent, he may be able to obtain a restricted license if he installs an interlock device on his vehicle.
Contact a Maryland DUI Attorney for Legal Assistance
If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI in Maryland, you need an experienced DUI lawyer to develop a strong defense strategy so that you achieve the best possible outcome. Take advantage of my offer of a free consultation to learn about my extensive experience helping clients facing these and other serious charges and your options. Call my office to schedule your appointment today.