Maryland’s driving under the influence laws are complicated and often confusing to the public. However, a general understanding of how the laws operate can help people when faced with allegations of DUI.
Maryland statutes provide that a driver is presumed too impaired to drive if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater. Under the legal theory of implied consent, drivers are expected to submit to a blood-alcohol test if reasonable grounds exist for suspecting that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Refusing to take the test may lead to a driver’s license suspension and other criminal penalties.
Penalties for a DUI
The minimum sentence for a first-time DUI conviction is a suspended license and fines. Other penalties may include alcohol education, substance abuse treatment and possible jail time.
Repeat DUI convictions increase the driver’s legal consequences dramatically. Anyone with more than one DUI conviction within a 5-year period is subject to an automatic yearlong driver’s license suspension. Following the 1-year suspension, people with repeat DUI offenses are also required to maintain an ignition-interlock device on all of their vehicles for a period of one year.
In addition to the burden of having to use the ignition interlock system, the driver must pay for the expense. A driver must be in severe financial hardship and provide documentation of such in order receive assistance paying the cost of the IID.
People with more than one DUI conviction also may be subject to increased fines and longer jail time. A second offense within a 5-year period is punishable by up to $2,000 and two years in prison. Third and further convictions result in fines up to $3,000 and three years in prison. A third offense also carries a mandatory 18-month driver’s license suspension.
Importantly, Maryland judges have discretion when imposing a sentence following a DUI conviction. Maryland uses sentencing guidelines rather than mandatory sentencing, which means that arguments that an individual should receive less than the guideline sentence may be made successfully in court, possibly resulting in a less harsh penalty if convicted.
Because of the complicated nature of Maryland’s DUI laws, consult a criminal defense attorney with experience defending DUI cases if you have been arrested for DUI.