Anytime you are facing accusations of committing a criminal offense, you have a lot at stake. This is true for charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. While DUI is one of the most common reasons for arrest in Maryland, you should not think of it as a minor problem. Even a first offense DUI can mean severe penalties and repercussions that can affect the rest of your life.
Specific other factors can raise the severity of your DUI arrest. Certain circumstances at the time of your arrest can place you at risk for sentence enhancements that can be even tougher than normal if the court convicts you. Understanding these factors may help you build a strong defense to protect your future.
What are factors that enhance a DUI sentence?
Maryland's per se DUI laws say that if your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher, the law considers you impaired even if you were not driving erratically. Tough DUI laws in this state mean that if you are convicted, you will likely pay thousands in fines, lose your license and deal with points on your driving record. You may even spend time in jail. The court may increase these penalties if any of the following circumstances exist at the time of your arrest:
- This is not your first conviction within a five-year period.
- You have a child in the vehicle at the time of your arrest.
- You are involved in an accident that results in property damage.
- You are responsible for a crash that injures someone who was in your vehicle, the other vehicle or a pedestrian.
- You are driving while your license is under suspension, or you do not have a license to drive.
- You have alcohol in an open container in your vehicle.
- You refuse to submit to a breath test after your arrest.
- You are driving while impaired with an ignition interlock system on your vehicle.
- Your BAC is considerably higher than .08.
Challenging your BAC level may be one of many ways in which your defense attorney will begin to build your case for fighting the charges against you. Without a strong defense strategy, you may end up with a conviction on your record that will never go away. A conviction for a DUI offense, with or without enhancements, can create complications for your career, your finances, your personal life and your future.