In most surveys of DUI laws, Maryland ranks low. When comparing laws, penalties and enforcement of drunk driving legislation, safety advocates place this state near the bottom. While this may seem like a free pass to those who get behind the wheel after a night of drinking, that assessment is not entirely true. The penalties for any drunk driving conviction can be life-changing, creating burdens to carry for years into the future.
Nonetheless, it seems Maryland is ready to fight its reputation for being lenient on drunk drivers. With the state’s annual rate of nearly 200 deaths related to drunk driving accidents, safety advocates continue to fight for tougher laws and penalties. Earlier this month, lawmakers strengthened statewide drunk driving laws, making it more difficult for those who drink and drive to escape with minor penalties.
If you enjoy a night out with friends or co-workers, you will want to be aware of the recent updates, making already tough penalties even harsher. These changes affect those operating vehicles on the road or on the water, and they apply to impairment by alcohol or drugs. Some of the most critical changes include the following:
- If you are convicted of driving under the influence and causing an accident that results in the death of someone else, you may spend up to five years in prison instead of the previous penalty of a three-year maximum.
- Previously, a conviction for driving while impaired with a minor in the vehicle could result in up to six months in jail, but the new law increases this maximum to one year.
- Maryland’s three-strikes penalty means you may face 10 years in prison for three or more drunk driving offenses in addition to up to $10,000 in fines.
While it is not on the books yet, some are lobbying to make a repeat offense into a felony. This could mean even longer prison sentences, higher fines and a criminal record that could mean a very uncertain future for anyone convicted of a repeat offense.
You have many options for avoiding a drunk driving arrest, such as ride-sharing and designating a sober driver. However, you may find yourself in a situation where it is too late to consider these options. When facing any DUI charges, whether a first offense or a repeat offense involving a fatal accident, you have a lot on the line and many factors to consider, perhaps including the wellbeing of your family. You would be wise to reach out for legal assistance at your earliest opportunity.