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Complete Guide to the Maryland DUI Law and Potential Penalties

Learn everything you need to know about DUI Law Maryland from trusted attorney Joseph A. Scrofano of Scrofano Law, PC.

Get the Facts on MD DUI Law from Your Attorney


It’s important to know the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for driving if you drink alcohol. You may think that everything will be fine if you have a beer or two, but you may already be over the legal limit to drive, according to DUI law in Maryland. Going through a mandatory checkpoint or seeing the flashing lights in your rearview mirror may cause panic. Complying with the law is the easiest way to minimize unnecessary complications. However, mistakes can happen.

If you operate a motor vehicle while even slightly impaired by alcohol, a controlled dangerous substance, or drug, you might be pulled over and detained. You might also be charged with a DUI even if you feel you were not impaired.

Usually, the first thing that people wonder is whether they will go to jail for a DUI in Maryland. The penalties for either DUI or DWI conviction depend on the circumstances of every particular incident as well as the number of prior alcohol-related offenses the driver has committed. You could end up in jail even after the first driving while impaired or drunk driving offense. If convicted, these offenses can have a huge impact on your future and even jeopardize your job.

When you find yourself in this situation, you need the services of a trusted legal representative. By hiring a DUI lawyer like Joseph A. Scrofano of Scrofano Law, PC, you will greatly improve your chances of avoiding the harsh legal penalties that tend to come with DUI charges and a conviction.

Understanding DWI and DUI Laws Maryland


Maryland DUI laws seriously limit drinking and driving. If you are accused and convicted of a DUI or even DWI, you should consider working with an attorney to provide advice and represent you in court.

In Maryland, there are two types of drinking and driving offenses:

  1. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) where the individual has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher
  2. Driving While Impaired (DWI) where the individual has a BAC of 0.07

Likewise, it is a criminal offense to drive while impaired by drugs (even legal medications) or a controlled substance such as cannabis. Although a DUI offense is generally considered more severe than a DWI in Maryland, the accused may also face serious drug charges that require a skilled DUI defense attorney if that is the reason they are impaired.


Additional DUI Maryland Laws

According to Maryland law, an individual under the age of 21 who drives with any alcohol in their system is breaking the law. If they are apprehended in VA, they will be charged with a DUI and require a trusted Virginia DUI lawyer.

If an individual has been detained, they will be charged with a criminal offense and should plan a detailed criminal defense strategy.

Drunk-driving offenses are misdemeanor charges in Maryland. For a first offense DUI, an individual faces maximum penalties of a $1,000 fine, 6 months of a suspended license, and one year in jail. Maximum penalties for first offense DWI are a $500 fine, 6 months of suspension, and two months in jail. For a third offense, legal penalties for DUI and DWI are up to a $5,000 fine, driver’s license suspension for 12 months, and five years in jail.

The penalties for DUI and DWI increase with each subsequent conviction. Additionally, if the DUI or DWI happens when transporting a child, the length of possible prison terms are generally longer.

Drivers Should Be Aware of the New MD DUI Laws


If you have been previously convicted of driving under the influence, you should be aware of the new DUI laws in Maryland.

Beginning on October 1, 2019, intoxicated and drugged drivers will deal with the following if they inadvertently kill another person while driving under the influence:

  • Increased charges
  • Harsher penalties
  • Larger fines
  • Longer sentences

The maximum jail time is increased from three to five years for drivers found guilty of motor vehicle accidents that occur while they are impaired by drugs. Additionally, the length of prison time is doubled from five to ten years for repeat offenders if they are found guilty of “vehicular manslaughter” arising from driving while impaired by the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Opioids
  • Other drugs

If they are also in possession of illegal firearms, they may face guns and weapons charges that they will need an experienced MD criminal defense lawyer to help fight.


How the Ignition Interlock Program in MD Affects Your Driver’s License

In addition to criminal penalties, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) steps into driving while impaired and drunk driving-related offenses and assigns points to the driver’s record. For example, an intoxicated driving conviction, which is considered a less serious offense than DUI, will most likely result in eight points on your driver’s record, which is enough for having your license suspended.

According to DWI law, a driver can ask to take part in the Ignition Interlock System Program in MD under certain circumstances. The Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) monitors this program, where a motorist can drive an automobile that is geared up with an ignition interlock device (IID).

An ignition interlock device stops drivers from starting the vehicle if they are impaired by alcohol. Drivers have to blow into the device when they enter the vehicle and it will start only if their breath alcohol level doesn’t exceed the level set on the device. Even a driver who is suspended due to a drunk driving-related offense, but is not required to install the IID can voluntarily apply. The MVA has more details about this program on its site.

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) will put “points” on the record of any motorist found guilty of a DUI or DWI. Those points remain on the driver’s record for two years unless an MD lawyer can reduce their sentence. Possible points include the following:

  • A motorist found guilty of a DWI will get 8 points, making him or her likely to receive a driver’s license suspension.
  • A motorist found guilty of a DUI will get 12 points, making him or her eligible for driver’s license cancellation.

The IID program can not record noise or video. However, it can take a still picture of the individual taking the test or device being damaged.

Requirements of the Maryland DUI Checkpoint Law


In the State of Maryland, drivers are considered to have voluntarily implied consent to be tested by a breath test or chemical test upon request. If a driver declines, they will be forbidden to drive for 12 hours after the arrest.

When a law enforcement officer thinks that an individual is driving while impaired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer will ask to check the driver’s BAC. Drivers who are charged for an intoxicated driving incident often pass a breath test. However, they will most likely show other indications of impairment, like driving erratically or failing a field sobriety test. If the driver takes the test and the outcome is a BAC of 0.08 or above (or if he or she declines to submit to the test), the officer will take their driver’s license, and the State of Maryland will suspend it.

If this happens to you, you will get a temporary 45-day permit, and the suspension will start on the 46th day. If it is found that you are operating under a fake ID, you will face additional charges that an MD attorney can help you with.


License Suspension after a DUI in Maryland

License suspensions after DUI convictions in Maryland vary from 45 days to one year, depending upon the quantity of blood alcohol concentration and previous driving offenses.

A driver who declines alcohol or drug screening and has a previous infraction will face two years of license suspension. For these offenses, the ignition interlock program normally lasts six months for a first offense DUI, one year for a second offense, and three years for a third offense DUI.

A driver under the age of 21 might be mandated to hold an IID for three years. He or she may also be charged with underage drinking, requiring a lawyer who is well-versed in MD DUI/DWI laws. An effective conclusion of the IID program can result in the early reinstatement of the driver’s license.

Commercial license drivers can have their driver’s license suspended for a year after a DUI conviction. They can even have their CDL disqualified even before a conviction if they receive a citation from a law enforcement officer for a high driver’s blood alcohol concentration while driving a commercial motor vehicle. Penalties can be even harsher if the driver was hauling hazardous materials. CDL holders can also lose their license if they are caught driving under the influence of alcohol in their own personal vehicle.

The MD DUI Law Book and Driver’s Manual


For more information about MD DUI laws and additional regulations, you should consult the Maryland Driver’s Manual. Even for a first DUI offense, you may face grave consequences if your blood alcohol level is too high. A reputable attorney in Maryland can provide needed advice.


DUI Law Maryland Revisions: Quick Facts


A harsher law (House Bill 707) was introduced on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, to enforce harsher charges identical to “child endangerment intoxicated driving charges” to impaired drivers who transport minors. If the accused is convicted of this charge in Maryland, they will deal with longer jail time or higher fines.

With the new laws, you need a knowledgeable attorney in your corner, even if you are facing a driving offense for the first time. Even if you are impaired by something as seemingly benign as Benadryl or Nyquil, you could face serious consequences. Contact us today for a consultation.


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