Driving under the influence is a serious criminal matter; penalties may include jail time, the suspension of driving privileges, and fines up to several thousand dollars. Those who have never received a DUI may have questions regarding what happens when a car is pulled over, in what instances a car may be pulled over and a driver subsequently charged with driving under the influence, and when, if ever, a driver may refuse chemical and field tests. Individuals who have previously received an alcohol related traffic violation may also have questions about the procedures for charging. With this in mind, a brief outline of Maryland DUI procedures, penalties, and related law continues below.
Maryland DUI BAC Limits and Penalties
In Maryland, an individual who is 21 years of age or older may be charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol content is 0.08% or above. Those driving a commercial vehicle may be charged at a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04%. Those drivers under the age of 21, and with a BAC of 0.02%, will also be charged. For those convicted of their first drunk driving offense, up to one year in jail may be imposed, however, if a minor was in the vehicle at the time of the DUI, the jail time minimum may be as long as two years. Additional penalties include a of up to $1000, and the suspension of driving privileges for a minimum of 6 months.
Right to Refuse Breath Test and Field Sobriety Test and Implied Consent
DUI charges often occur in situations where a driver is pulled over for some sort of minor traffic violation. As such, the officer on the scene may begin to assess if someone has been drinking no sooner than when they reach the care and then by the driver’s pattern of speech, the smell of alcohol on their breath, the presence of an open container, or speed of reflexes. A police officer who suspects that a driver has been drinking will likely ask that the driver take a breath analysis test, known as a Breathalyzer, or ask them to complete field tests that may include reciting numbers, letters, spelling words, and balancing. It is important to understand that as a driver, you need NOT submit to either a Breathalyzer NOR a field sobriety test. It is your right to refuse these tests, and you may not be compelled otherwise.
That being said, Maryland’s ‘implied consent’ law translates to a 120-day license suspension for those who refuse (if this is the first refusal). For refusals after the first, you may lose driving privileges for up to one year. You will, however, be given the opportunity to request a hearing in order to challenge the suspension of your driving privileges.
DUI charges can be deeply upsetting and incredibly stressful. But information is power, and the more you understand, the better equipped you are to fight these criminal charges with the assistance of an experienced Montgomery County DUI lawyer. Visit the website of a Montgomery County DUI Lawyer by clicking right here.