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What Are the Maryland DUI Laws?

The state of Maryland takes driving under the influence and drunk driving very seriously. It even allows for charges against drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.07% in some instances. That one-point difference in BAC (compared with 0.08% in most states) makes a big difference in penalties and sentencing.

Learn more about Maryland's DUI and DWI laws below.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08 Percent (presumption of intoxication, no other evidence needed)
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02 Percent
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit n/a
Driving While Impaired by Alcohol (lesser charge than DUI) 0.07 Percent (contributing factor, but more evidence needed for a conviction)
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes

Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense) Six months / One year / not explicit
Mandatory Alcohol Education, Assessment and Treatment Both
Is Vehicle Confiscation Possible? Yes
Is Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes (mandatory with certain convictions)

Maryland Impaired Driving Law: DUI vs. DWI

Maryland law allows prosecutors to file two categories of charges against impaired motorists: driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI).

Either charge results in your driving privileges being immediately suspended pending a hearing with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).

Driving Under the Influence

It is illegal in Maryland to drive or attempt to drive while under the influence of alcohol. It is also prohibited to drive or attempt to drive while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance to the extent you cannot operate the vehicle safely.

If your breath test shows an alcohol level of 0.08% or more, you have committed a drunk driving offense. You are "per se" intoxicated under the law at this BAC. This means a prosecutor does not need further evidence of your impairment to charge you.

Driving While Impaired

A charge of driving while impaired (DWI) is possible when a motorist with a BAC of 0.07% shows other evidence of impairment, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or a failed field sobriety tests. If you refuse to take a test to determine BAC but show other evidence of impairment, law enforcement can charge you with DWI.

Being impaired by legal drugs is also prohibited and can earn you a DWI charge.

Implied Consent

A police officer who suspects you may be driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance will pull you over. Law enforcement will administer field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer or breath test. The breath test gauges your blood alcohol content. You may also need to submit to chemical tests, such as a blood or urine analysis. These additional tests will confirm your BAC and will screen for intoxicating substances.

When you obtain your driver's license, you have given your consent to undergo these tests. This is called an implied consent law.

While you may refuse to submit to chemical testing, there are immediate consequences for doing so. Your license can be suspended for one year, regardless of whether you're convicted of DWI or DUI.

Underage Drivers

Maryland has zero-tolerance laws for minors who drive under the influence. Motorists under 21 can be charged with DWI if they have a minimum of 0.02% BAC. However, if your BAC is 0.08% or more, you can face a DUI charge.

Maryland DUI and DWI Penalties

The criminal penalties are steep. They increase in severity with each subsequent offense.

DWI Penalties

A first-offense DWI carries a $500 fine, a 60-day driver's license suspension, eight points on your license, and up to two months of jail time.

A second DWI conviction can lead to $500 in fines, up to one year in jail, and up to 12 months of license suspension.

A person under 21 with a DWI conviction can face a one-year suspension of their driver's license in addition to the DWI offenses penalties listed above. A second offense will see their license suspended for up to two years.

DUI Penalties

If you're convicted of a first DUI, you will receive a fine of up to $1,000, a six-month license suspension, 12 points on your license, and up to one year in jail. A second offense increases your penalties to $2,000, with license revocation of at least one year. You can receive up to two years in jail, with five days mandatory.

There is an enhancement of these penalties when you have a minor in the vehicle or if your BAC is 0.15% or higher.

Commercial Drivers' License DUI/DWI

If you hold a commercial driver's license (CDL), you may have your license disqualified after a DUI or DWI charge. You could lose your license if your BAC is at 0.04% or higher, even if you are not charged with a crime.

If convicted, the penalties are the same whether you received an alcohol-related DUI or a drug-related DUI.

Ignition Interlock Device

The 2016 passage of Noah's law allows using an ignition interlock device (IID) after a DUI conviction for certain DWI criminal offenses and if you refuse to submit to law enforcement chemical testing. The IID allows you to continue driving under limited circumstances while your DUI case is ongoing and after a conviction.

An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer test that will not allow your car to start if it detects the presence of alcohol. The IID contains a camera to ensure the required person uses the vehicle and IID.

If your DUI conviction was for a BAC between 0.08 to 0.15%, you must use the IID for 180 days. If your BAC was more than 0.15% or you refused chemical testing, you must keep the IID for one year. If your device finds alcohol over 0.025% BAC, the Maryland MVA will add 30 days to your IID sentence.

Maryland DUI Resources

Get Help with Your Case From a Maryland DUI Attorney

Since Maryland law allows for lesser charges for those with a 0.07% BAC, the chances of arrest for impaired driving are higher. A defense attorney can help you understand the laws. They will work to challenge the evidence and help you get the best possible outcome. Get started by contacting a Maryland DUI attorney today.

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