What Are the Maryland DUI Laws?

Drinking and driving is illegal in Maryland, as it is in every state. No one intends to hurt anyone when they drink and drive, yet every 58 hours a person in Maryland is killed by a drunk driver.

The Maryland Transportation Code contains the DUI and DWI laws and penalties. The law includes BAC limits, administrative license suspensions, Ignition Interlock Device (IID) requirements, and more.

BAC Limits

Maryland has two levels of drinking and driving. The first, driving under the influence (DUI), is a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or above. With this .08 BAC, Maryland considers you to be under the influence of alcohol "per se." That means the state wouldn't have to show other evidence of your drinking, such as the smell of alcohol on your breathe or your failure of the field sobriety tests. A driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs (DWI) is a less severe crime, with a lower BAC limit of .07.

Underage Drinking

Maryland has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and driving. Therefore, if an underage driver drank at all, even if he or she wasn’t drunk, the underage drinker would still get a DUI. If a driver is under 21, the legal drinking age in Maryland, the max BAC is .02%.

Commercial Drivers

Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard when it comes to drinking and driving. The BAC limit for a commercial driver is .04%.

Penalties and Sentencing

DUIs can be punished criminally and administratively.

Criminal Penalties

The penalties for a DUI or DWI will vary based on the number of prior offenses (within five years of current offense) and the circumstances, including whether or not children where in the vehicle. The DUI sentences are shown in the table below:

 

First Offense DUI

Second Offense DUI

Third Offense DUI

Jail

Up to a year

Up to two years (minimum of five days)

Up to three years

Fine

Up to $1,000

Up to $2,000

Up to $3,000

The lower criminal penalties for a DWI (the lower BAC limit of .07) are:

 

First Offense DWI

Second or Subsequent Offense DWI

Jail

Up to two months

Up to one year

Fine

Up to $500

Up to $500

If children were in the car at the time a person was caught drinking and driving at the per se (.08) alcohol level or while under the influence of a controlled substance, penalties are increased to those shown in the table below as DUI. If for driving while impaired, the penalties are under the DWI columns.

 

First DUI with Kids

Second DUI with Kids

Third or More DUI with Kids

First DWI with Kids

Second or More DWI with Kids

Jail

Up to two years

Up to three years

Up to four years

Up to six months

Up to one years

Fine

Up to $2,000

Up to $3,000

Up to $4,000

Up to $1,000

Up to $2,000

In addition to these penalties, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may institute administrative penalties.

Administrative Penalties

For a DUI, the MVA will give you 12 “points” on your driving record. For a DWI, you’ll get 8 points. The MVA suspends licenses with 8-11 points and revokes licenses with 12 or more points. It takes two years for points to get off your driving record. The following table depicts the points and revocation time periods.

 

First Offense DUI

Second Offense DUI

Third Offense DUI

First Offense DWI

Second Offense DWI

Third Offense DWI

License Revocation

6 months

12 months

18 months

N/A

N/A

N/A

License Suspension

N/A

N/A

N/A

60 days

Up to 120 days

Up to 12 months

Points

12 points

12 points

12 points

8 points

8 points

8 points

IID

6 months

1 year

3 years

*6 months

*6 months

*3 years

*Applies to convictions on charges of DWI while transporting a minor under the age of 16, or those involving a homicide or life-threatening injury by motor vehicle.

In accordance with a law that took effect on Oct. 1, 2016, those convicted of a DUI or certain DWIs are required to install and use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). The device requires you to blow into it to prove your sobriety before driving. IID installation and monitoring is not cheap, but you can apply for a financial hardship.

You may also want to ask the MVA for an administrative hearing about your license suspension, this must be requested within 30 days of the stop.

Implied Consent

Maryland has a law that if you refuse to take a chemical test to determine if you’ve been drinking and driving, you will be subject to a fine and an automatic license suspension. This is called an “implied consent” law. For the first refusal to test, it’s a 120 day suspension, for a second or subsequent offense it’s a one year suspension.

Getting a Free Case Review

If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Having an experienced Maryland DUI attorney can help you get back into the driver’s seat with a better plea bargain or trial outcome. Learn more today with a free case review at no obligation to you.

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