Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense. The effects of DUI can cause serious physical, mental, and legal consequences that can last a lifetime.
In Maryland, if you are caught driving under the influence, you will face serious criminal penalties, including fines, license suspension or revocation, community service, and even jail time. In addition, if you cause an accident, you may also be sued by the victims or their families in a civil lawsuit if someone is injured or killed.
In Baltimore the dangers of DUI are further compounded by the city’s high rate of drunk driving-related fatalities. In 2019, there were over 1,000 alcohol-related crashes in the city, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 people. These fatalities represent a significant percentage of all traffic fatalities in Baltimore.
According to the CDC, 1,515 Maryland residents were killed in DUI-related crashes from 2009 to 2018. Across the United States, more than 10,000 people die in alcohol-related auto accidents.
The Consequences of Receiving a DUI in Maryland
A DUI in Maryland can result in several different penalties depending on the severity of the offense and the number of prior offenses. Penalties can range from a fine and probation to jail time and a driver’s license suspension.
The consequences of a DUI in Maryland are more severe if the offender has a prior DUI offense or if there was an accident involved. A first-offense DUI is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 and a suspension of your license.
The driver’s license suspension for a first-offense DUI is up to six months. For a second-offense DUI, the driver’s license suspension is up to one year. If an accident occurred while the offender was driving under the influence, the driver’s license suspension is doubled for each offense.
In addition to the penalties listed above, offenders will also be required to complete a substance abuse education program and may be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.
Maryland’s DUI Laws
Under Maryland law, Transportation Code Section 21-902 prohibits:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol
- Driving under the influence of alcohol while transporting a minor passenger
- Driving while impaired by alcohol
- Driving while impaired by alcohol while transporting a minor passenger
- Driving or attempting to drive a vehicle when under the influence of drugs, or any combination of drugs and/or alcohol
- Driving while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol
Each of these offenses carries different penalties under Maryland Transportation code. Although driving with a BAC greater than 0.08% is considered a DUI, even if you are under the limit, you can still be charged with driving while impaired (DWI). While a DWI is a lesser charge than a DUI, it can still carry severe penalties for the driver. If it occurs while a minor is in the car, the penalties only get worse.
What to Do During a DUI Stop
If you are stopped on suspicion of DUI in Maryland, the officer will ask you to perform a field sobriety test. This test is designed to measure your coordination and balance. If the officer believes you are impaired, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine. If you refuse to take the test, your license will be automatically suspended for 120 days.
If you are pulled over and a peace officer suspects you may be alcohol-impaired, what you say and do can have profound consequences on your case and can be used against you in court. As such, it’s important to know and understand your rights during a DUI stop and be aware of what you should and should not do. Saying the right thing and understanding your rights will help your case in the event the district attorney pursues charges against you.
- You have the right to remain silent. It is important to understand that you don’t have to answer any of the officer’s questions about your activities. If you are accused of driving under the influence, you should be polite, but deny answering any questions until you’ve consulted an attorney.
- You do not have to submit to field sobriety tests or a roadside breathalyzer test. These tests may seem like they are designed to prove your innocence, but they are actually employed to provide evidence to law enforcement. If you refuse these tests, you will most likely be arrested. However, if you take the test and fail, you will be charged with a DUI and booked into jail.
- You have the right to counsel from a defense attorney. If you are indeed arrested, the first thing to do is to call an attorney. If you don’t have a good understanding of the law, you will be confused and upset at how you are being treated. Call an attorney A DUI lawyer can help evaluate your case and determine the best course of action to take to prevent life-long consequences.
DUI Defense Strategies
If this is your first DUI offense, you may be eligible for probation before judgment (PBJ). This means that you will not have a conviction on your record if you successfully complete probation. However, even if you are granted PBJ, you will still face a license suspension of at least 45 days.
The best way to prevent these actions is to not drink and drive. But if you have been stopped for a DUI, your first step is to call an experienced DUI lawyer who can help navigate the complex process from the very beginning.
How a DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help
A DUI can come with some dire consequences. A DUI defense lawyer can help you through the process and make sure that you understand your options. They can also help you to avoid some of the more serious penalties that come with a DUI or DWI.
A DUI attorney can also help you to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. Many of our attorneys personally know the prosecutors handling your case and can negotiate on your behalf to help you avoid some of the more serious penalties that come with a DUI. A plea deal can also help you to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
A DUI Defense Lawyer can also help you prepare for your day in court. They can help you to understand the process and what to expect. They will build a strong defense so that you have a better chance of winning your case.
The reality is that a DUI charge can have a significant impact on your life. It is important to understand the laws in Maryland surrounding DUIs and the different penalties you may face. Knowing what to do during a DUI stop, as well as understanding potential defense strategies and how an experienced DUI attorney can help are all important steps when facing a DUI charge.
If you have been arrested or charged with DUI or DWI, chances are you’re feeling really stressed and looking for someone to guide you through the process. Contact Pinder Plotkin now and schedule a free legal consultation with one of our experienced DUI lawyers. Let us help you find the best possible solution for your situation.