Maryland DUI Laws & Penalties

It’s common knowledge that drivers who choose to drink and drive put themselves and others in danger. In addition to the potential physical dangers created by drunk drivers like vehicle accidents, they are liable for serious legal repercussions including jail time or revocation of their license. Maryland requires drivers over 21 years of age to maintain a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 0.08% to legally drive. Commercial drivers and drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 years old are expected to avoid driving at BACs of 0.04% and 0.02%, respectively.

Noah’s Law – Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Device Law

Known as Noah’s Law, the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016 was created by Maryland lawmakers after a police officer was hit and killed by a drunk driver. After the accident, Maryland DUI laws were updated to include Noah’s Law. The law seeks to reduce the number of drunk drivers on Maryland roads by requiring an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed into the vehicle of anyone convicted of a DUI. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer device attached to a car’s ignition. When a driver wishes to drive a car with an IID installed, he or she must complete the breathalyzer test. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start. Noah’s law also includes the option for eligible drivers to opt-in to the IID program rather than face other consequences, such as license suspension.
 

Administrative Process for Maryland DUI

The administrative process for DUIs in Maryland is complex and often requires quick action by the motorist accused of drunk driving. A driver who is arrested for DUI will have his or her Maryland license confiscated by the officer and will be issued a temporary paper license. The temporary license is found as part of the driver’s copy of the Officer’s Certification and Order of Suspension. In addition to providing the driver with a temporary license, this document includes important information regarding Maryland’s DUI laws, such as:

  • Information on the incident as recorded by the police officer.
  • Verifies whether or not the driver agreed to and took a chemical test (breathalyzer).
  • General information on Noah’s Law and the IID program.
  • Hearing Request Copy: separate copy of Certification that has form to request a hearing from the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).

The arrested driver will also be given an Advice of Rights form. This form, similar to the Certification and Order of Suspension, provides the driver with general information regarding his or her rights as well as certain facts regarding the incident. The Advice of Rights form will list potential additional penalties and eligibility to opt-in to Maryland’s IID program.

Maryland drivers arrested for drunk driving may request an administrative hearing to propose why they should not have their licenses suspended. After an Order of Suspension is issued the driver has 30 days to request a hearing and only 10 days to guarantee his or her license is not suspended prior to the hearing. After 30 days, hearing requests are denied and drivers who do not attend their hearings or are convicted face license suspension.

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Maryland First Offense DUI

A driver arrested for his or her first DUI in Maryland will face license suspension, fines, and possibly even imprisonment. Drivers with severely elevated BAC levels may face additional penalties including extended license suspensions. Any driver convicted of a DUI may be required to undergo alcohol abuse assessment and treatment.

  • Jail time: Up to one year.
  • License Suspension: First offense drivers with a BAC above 0.08% will have their license suspended for 180 days (approximately 6 months). If the driver’s BAC was 0.15% or higher, and he or she caused a fatal accident, the driver’s license will be revoked for one (1) year.
  • Fines: Up to $1,000 in fines may be assessed for a first offense DUI in Maryland. Additionally, there are fees to add an alcohol restriction to a license and to remove it after the restriction period.
  • BAC test refusal: A driver who refuses to submit to a chemical test on their first DUI arrest will face a 270-day license suspension.
  • DUI Class Requirement: A judge may require a first-time DUI offender to enroll in alcohol abuse treatment.
  • Ignition Interlock Requirement: All drivers convicted of a DUI will be required to install an IID in their vehicles. A first offense DUI will require a driver to participate in the IID program for six months.

Maryland Second Offense DUI

Penalties for a second offense DUI in Maryland are greatly increased from those faced by first-time offenders. A driver arrested for drunk driving more than one time in Maryland will be required to serve jail time. Additionally, he or she will face longer license suspension and enrollment in the IID program.

  • Jail time: Second-time DUI offenders may be sentenced up to two (2) years in jail and are required to serve a minimum of five (5) days in jail.
  • License Suspension: A second DUI with a BAC of 0.08%-0.14% results in a 180-day suspension of the driver’s license. If the second DUI involved a fatality, his or her license is suspended for one (1) year. Drivers with a second offence DUI BAC of 0.15% or over lose their licenses for 180 days, unless a fatality is involved. Second-offense drivers who cause a fatality and have a BAC over 0.15% will have their licenses revoked.
  • Fines: Fines for a second-offense DUI are $2,000.
  • BAC test refusal: The penalty for a second-offense drunk driver who refuses a chemical test is a 2-year license suspension.
  • DUI Class Requirement: Drivers convicted of a second DUI in Maryland may be required to attend drunk driving classes and undergo a substance abuse evaluation.
  • Ignition Interlock Requirement: All second offense drunk drivers will be required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program for one (1) year.


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Third Offense DUI and Subsequent Drunk Driving Convictions

If a driver chooses to drink and drive in Maryland for a third time or more after previously being arrested for DUI, he or she will face significantly increased penalties. Though ultimately up to a judge to decide the exact sentence, a repeat DUI offender may see fines increased $1,000 for every DUI charge. He or she will also serve jail time, with a sentence up to three (3) years for a third DUI offense. Additionally, a driver who is transporting a minor may be sentenced similarly to a third time offended, even if it is his or her first offense.

Maryland DWI (Driving while Impaired by Alcohol)

The state of Maryland enforces a Driving While Impaired by Alcohol (DWI) law. Similar to a DUI, drivers arrested for DWI were found to be improperly operating a motor vehicle while alcohol was in their systems. The penalties for DWI are, in general, lesser than those of a DUI in Maryland.

A first offence DWI conviction can lead to fines up to $500 and jail time of up to two (2) months. The driver’s license will be suspended for six (6) months following a DWI arrest. Drivers facing their second DWI conviction face fines of up to $500 and up to one (1) year in prison, as well as a license suspension between nine (9) and twelve (12) months. Unlike a DUI arrest, Maryland DWI laws do not require participation in the Ignition Interlock Program, except in extenuating circumstances. These circumstances include driving while impaired and transporting a minor under age 16 or receiving a DWI charge when involved in a fatal or life-threatening motor vehicle accident.

Maryland Commercial Driver’s DUI Laws

 Maryland drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) designation must follow even more strict drunk driving laws than regular citizens. Commercial drivers in Maryland must adhere to a lower legal BAC limit. The legal limit for commercial drivers is only 0.04%, half of the legal limit for other adults. Any CDL driver arrested for DUI at the lower legal limit will face the same penalties as those for non-CDL drivers above the 0.08% legal limit.

If a CDL driver refuses to take a breathalyzer test, or if he or she fails the BAC test, his or her CDL designation will be suspended. First-time commercial DUI offenders will have their CDL suspended for one (1) year. Any commercial driver arrested for a second DUI offense will have his or her CDL designation disqualified for life. Depending on the severity and level of a failed chemical test, commercial drivers may also have their CDL driving privilege revoked for life even if it is their first offense. Those commercial drivers who choose to drink and drive while transporting hazardous substances will have their CDL designation suspended for three (3) years following a first offense and a lifetime revocation for any subsequent offenses.

Maryland DUI Under 21

The legal drinking age in Maryland is 21 years old, and Maryland drunk driving laws use a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking. Under this policy, the legal BAC for a driver under 21 is only 0.02%. Police officers may request a sobriety test from an underage driver if they smell alcohol. A driver who is under age 21 and found to have alcohol in his or her system will be charged for a normal alcohol restriction violation. This includes a fine of $500 for first time offenders and a $1,000 fine for a second or subsequent offense. Underage drivers are also required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program or face license suspension. The length of time for required IID program participation is determined by the number of underage DUI on a driver’s record.

Maryland drunk driving laws rely heavily on the state’s Ignition Interlock program to keep drunk drivers from ever being able to operate a vehicle. Since the 2016 introduction of Noah’s Law, the IID program has expanded to offer first-time DUI offenders the chance to participate in the program instead of facing a license suspension. This successful program helps to deter motorists from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated with the threat of installing and maintaining an ignition interlock device.