In Maryland, the police can pull you over if they suspect that you are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or that you are otherwise impaired. Your coordination or judgment doesn’t have to be impacted to be arrested for DUI if you are over the legal limit, nor do you have to be driving a vehicle.
The Definition of DUI in Maryland
DUI is the acronym for “driving under the influence,” and you can be arrested for this offense in Maryland if your blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches the legal limit of 0.08% or higher, regardless of whether your ability to drive was impaired. You can also get charged with DUI if your driving is substantially impaired by alcohol regardless of your BAC.
The DUI limits vary in this state if you belong to some special classes. For example, the legal limit is 0.02% if you are under the age of 21. If you hold a commercial driver’s license, the state can arrest you for DUI provided your BAC is 0.04% or higher.
In Maryland, you don’t necessarily need to be “driving” a vehicle to get charged with DUI. In some cases, simply sitting in a vehicle while under the influence is enough to warrant a DUI charge. The key question answered by the courts in the 1993 Court of Appeals case Atkinson v. State deals with whether the defendant was in physical control of the motor vehicle at the time of their arrest. According to this case, you may be arrested for DUI in a parked car if:
- the vehicle is running, or the ignition is turned on,
- your headlights are on,
- the keys are on your person,
- you are awake and in the driver’s seat, or
- your vehicle is parked illegally or on the side of the road.
What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI in Maryland?
Even if you are not arrested for DUI, you may still find yourself charged with driving while impaired (DWI). This is considered a less serious offense and is generally a charge that will result when your BAC is between 0.07% and 0.08%. So, you may have passed a breathalyzer test with results that are just shy of the legal limit but still exhibit signs of impairment. At this point, the officer may choose to charge you with a DWI.
The Penalties for a Maryland DUI and DWI
Both DUI and DWI charges are serious, even as first-time offenses. Assuming you were arrested for a DWI, the potential penalties for a first-time offender is a fine of up to $500 and 60 days in jail. Once convicted, you will also receive an eight-point penalty on your driving record which is enough to lead to your driver’s license being suspended.
First-time DUI offenders face harsher penalties if convicted. This includes a fine of up to $1,000 and as much as one year in jail. Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) also penalizes a DUI offender with a twelve-point penalty, which is enough to cause a driver’s license revocation for a certain period.
Drivers who do not have their licenses revoked or suspended will likely be required to participate in the state’s ignition interlock program. A device will be installed in your vehicle, at your cost, that will prevent you from driving if you have been drinking.
If you are arrested for DUI in this state and have a prior DUI in the last ten years, your penalties for repeat offenses will be much harsher. First-time offenders in Maryland may be able to avoid conviction and these harsh penalties with the right defenses as well as participation in the state’s probation before judgment program. These are all options you should discuss with your criminal defense attorney.
Contact a Qualified Maryland DUI Attorney
The consequences of either a DWI or DUI conviction can be severe, so this is not something that you want to try to handle on your own or leave to chance. If you are convicted, the penalties can have a serious impact on your future. Maryland DUI attorney Jonathan Fellner understands that each of these cases is unique and will do everything possible to protect your rights and liberty. Contact our Rockville office now at 301-309-2000 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.