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Maryland drunk driving laws carry heavy penalties

Drunk driving is a problem in Maryland like it is in many other states. Each year, over 150 people die in Maryland traffic accidents involving drunk drivers. Legislators across the country are working to protect citizens on the roads from the devastating accidents caused when impaired drivers get behind the wheel.

One way to deter people from making this unwise choice is to enact strict laws with harsh penalties. Maryland's nickname may be the Free State, but there is nothing free for someone who is arrested for driving under the influence or driving while impaired.

Your blood alcohol concentration

If you have a BAC level of .08, that is enough evidence for a DUI conviction. Police do not have to explain that they smelled alcohol on your breath, observed you swerving over the line or failed you during field sobriety tests. Even if your BAC is .07, you may face charges of DWI, which carries slightly less serious consequences. Of course, if you are a commercial driver, the state complies with federal standards that set your BAC limit at .04, even if you are driving your personal vehicle.

Some of the penalties for a first-offense conviction include the following:

  • DUI: You may receive a sentence including a maximum of one year in jail, up to $1,000 fine, six-month license revocation, 12 points on your license and six months ignition interlock after license reinstatement.
  • DWI: Your sentence may include a maximum of two months in jail, up to $500 fine, 60 days license suspension and 8 points on your license.

Points on your driving record remain for two years, so you are at risk of losing your driving privileges for any traffic offenses during that time. Of course, the penalties for DUI and DWI increase substantially with each subsequent conviction. Additionally, aggravating factors, such as having a child in the car at the time of the offense, can dramatically raise the level of potential penalties, including years in jail and thousands in fines.

State officials place a great deal of emphasis on the BAC level despite that breath and blood tests are not always reliable. If you are facing an alcohol-related charge in Maryland, you would be wise to seek the representation of an attorney who has experience fighting DUI charges in local courts. Such an attorney will know how to question the results of your tests and challenge the subjective evidence against you.

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