Driving while impaired is probably something many people do without even realizing it. After a couple drinks with dinner, you may feel fine and drive home without any trouble. However, those who have already gone through the ordeal of a DUI arrest may have a good idea of when they have had too much to drink to drive safely.
In a typical year, close to 200 people die in drunk driving accidents on Maryland roads and highways. Thousands more suffer injuries, some of them life-altering. Data shows that those with multiple DUI offenses have a much higher likelihood of being involved in an accident than those who have no previous convictions. In fact, someone with a previous DUI conviction is four times more likely to cause a fatal accident. This is why the laws regarding repeat offenders in this state are getting tougher and the penalties more severe.
Changes in the law
Maryland began tightening its already strict drunk driving laws a few years ago with the passage of Noah’s Law. This legislation came about following the death of a police officer in an accident involving an alleged drunk driver with prior DUI convictions. Noah’s Law requires all those convicted of drunk driving in Maryland to install ignition interlock systems in their vehicles. Late last year, lawmakers passed the Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act, which increased the severity of the criminal penalties for repeat offenses.
Some changes in the laws include the following:
- If you have three or more convictions, you may face as long as 10 years in prison for a subsequent offense.
- Three or more convictions also place you at risk of fines up to $10,000.
- If you have previous convictions and are involved in an accident that results in someone else’s death, you may face five years in prison, compared to the previous sentence of three years.
- A drunk driving conviction that includes having a minor in the vehicle with you can mean a year in prison instead of the previous six months.
With the increasing severity of the penalties for drunk driving convictions, you will want to act quickly if you are facing alcohol-related charges. Your freedom, your finances and your future are on the line. If your situation involves more complex matters such as an accident that resulted in someone else’s injuries or death, having quality, experienced legal representation will be in your best interests.