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MD laws on multiple drunk driving, boating convictions changing

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2023 | Drunk Driving

With boating season in full swing here in Maryland, it’s important to remember that law enforcement takes operating a boat while under the influence as seriously as driving a vehicle under the influence. Further, a bill recently passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Wes Moore increases the penalties for repeat offenders – regardless of whether they’re operating a vehicle or a vessel when they’re arrested. The more convictions a person has, the harsher the penalties are.

Currently, the two types of offenses are treated differently when determining whether a person has previous convictions. However, the new law, which takes effect on Oct. 1 of this year, states that “certain previous convictions for drunk or drugged operation of a vehicle or vessel and grossly negligent manslaughter by vehicle or vessel…constitute prior convictions for the purpose of determining certain enhanced subsequent offender penalties.” Therefore, as one state senator explained, “This bill counts a boating DUI as a second and subsequent offense to a driving DUI, and vice-versa.”

Lawmaker faced BUI, DUI charges over a two-week span

There are far fewer arrests and convictions in Maryland for operating a boat while under the influence than for DUIs involving cars, However, ten years ago, a (now former) Maryland state delegate from Anne Arundel County was arrested for drunk driving just two weeks after he pled guilty to operating a boat while under the influence. 

The penalties for subsequent convictions, regardless of whether a person was operating a car or a boat, however, will increase. That’s just one reason why it’s important not to treat any DUI charge lightly – even if it’s your first one. Having experienced legal guidance can help protect your rights and mitigate the consequences.