The state of Maryland differentiates between driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI). A DUI charge is brought if a driver is found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of between .04 and .08. DWI is a more serious charge with harsher penalties that applies if a driver’s BAC is over .08. For commercial drivers, the threshold for DUI is lowered to a BAC of .04 and for drivers under 21 it is lowered to .02.
Driving under the influence of any amount of a controlled substance or illegal drug is also considered a DUI. Maryland has a Compassionate Use Act that can reduce penalties associated with documented medicinal use of marijuana, but marijuana is still not technically legal for medical patients. As such, the Compassionate Use Act does not extend to cover traffic laws and cannot be used as a defense to mitigate DWI/DUI penalties.
Maryland operates under an implied consent law which states that anyone signing a state driver’s license or learner’s permit implicitly agrees to be tested for drugs or alcohol after being pulled over by a police officer who has probable cause. Refusal of testing under these circumstances results in an automatic 120-day suspension of the driver’s license. Maryland police cannot arrest a driver solely for a refusal, but the refusal can be introduced as evidence against them later in court. A police officer is allowed to force a driver to take a test if they were involved in an accident that caused serious injury or death to another person, however.
Felony Maryland DUI Law
While Maryland has harsh penalties for repeat DUI/DWI offenders including years of jail time and large fines, it is also one of only seven states that does not ever escalate DWI/DUI to a felony after a certain number of incidents. DWI/DUI is always treated as a misdemeanor in Maryland.
The only exception to this is if the DWI/DUI caused the death of another person. If this is the case, the charge changes to “homicide by motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol” or “homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence” depending on the circumstances. Both are punishable by several years of jail time and a fine of up to $5,000.
Changes To Maryland DUI Law in 2009
The state of Maryland passed a number of changes to their DWI/DUI laws that went into effect in October of 2009. Two or more convictions of any impaired driving law now results in an automatic one year suspension of a driver’s license. Drivers under 21 can now be arrested for consumption of alcohol (they could previously only be charged with possession). Furnishing of alcohol to minors was also criminalized. Penalties were increased for those violating the DWI/DUI laws while driving on a restricted license. DUI offenders are also now only entitled to one Probation Before Judgement plea every 10 years.