It is not a good idea to try to defend yourself in a drinking and driving case. The laws prohibiting drinking and driving carry criminal penalties and without legal representation you may be fined or put in prison. The information below is for general informational purposes only.
Maryland’s drinking and driving laws define two different levels of crime depending on how drunk the driver is.
The more severe crime is driving (or attempting to drive) while under the influence of alcohol, commonly called DUI. A person who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater is assumed to be under the influence of alcohol or DUI. Maryland law calls a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above “under the influence per se.”
The less severe crime is driving while impaired by alcohol or DWI. A person who has a blood alcohol concentration of .07 is assumed to be impaired by alcohol.
When a police officer suspects that a person is driving while impaired and pulls the car over, the officer will ask to test the driver’s blood alcohol concentration. If the driver takes the test and the result is a BAC of .08 or above or if the driver refuses to take the test, the officer will suspend the driver’s license. The officer will take the driver’s license and give the driver a temporary license. The temporary license allows the driver to drive for 45 days. The suspension begins on the 46th day.
License suspensions range from 45 days to a year depending on the amount of alcohol and previous drunk driving offenses. There are increased penalties for drivers who are transporting children while impaired or under the influence of alcohol.
If the driver was involved in a life threatening accident the police can make the driver take the test .
The officer will arrest the driver if he or she believes that the driver broke the laws against driving or attempting to drive while impaired by or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Read the Law: MD Code Transportation § 16-205.1
The Administrative Hearing for License Suspension
The driver has a right to ask the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) for hearing to review the license suspension. A request for a hearing must be sent in within 30 days to the MVA. If the driver does not request a hearing, the suspension will automatically begin on the 46th day. A request for a hearing that is sent in within 10 days of the stop will be scheduled a hearing within 30 days of the date the request is received. Read the Law: MD Code Transportation § 16-205.1
At the hearing, the only facts Motor Vehicle Administration will consider are:
- Whether the police officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of or impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Whether there was evidence the driver used alcohol or drugs
- Whether the police officer requested a test after the officer warned the driver of the penalties for refusal or a failed test
- Whether the person refused to take the test
- Whether the person drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at the time of testing;
- Whether the person drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more at the time of testing; or
- If the hearing involves disqualification of a commercial driver’s license, whether the person was operating a commercial motor vehicle or held a commercial driver’s license.
Read the Law: MD Code Transportation § 16-205.1
If at the end of the hearing the MVA’s Administrative Law Judge believes the driver was properly pulled over, warned, and failed or refused to take the test, the judge will suspend the driver’s license.
Criminal Proceedings for DWI or DUI
If the driver has been is arrested for driving under the influence of or impaired by drugs or alcohol, the driver may will be tried in criminal court. Drunken driving offenses are misdemeanors in Maryland. The judge may impose criminal penalties at the end of trial if the driver is found guilty. The penalties can range from a $500 fine and two months in jail up to a $4,000 fine and 4 years in jail. Read the Law: MD Code Transportation § 27-101
The Motor Vehicle Administration will put points on the record of any driver convicted in a court of law of a drinking and driving crime. Points stay on the driver’s record for two years. A driver who is convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs will get 8 points, making him/her eligible for license suspension. A driver who is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or impaired by a controlled dangerous substance will get 12 points, making him/her eligible for license revocation. Read the Law: MD Code Transportation § 16-402
For More Information
Look for the following books at your local law library.
William D. Paton, Leonard R. Stamm, Leonard H. Shapiro, Maryland DUI Manual: An In-Depth Guide to the Complexities of DUI Law (Hanford Publishing Co., 2002)
Leonard R. Stamm, Maryland DUI Law, 2008-2009 ed. (Thomson West, 2008)