Maryland takes impaired driving seriously.
In fact, in October 2016, Maryland made changes to its drunk driving laws that included increased penalties and increased participation in the program requiring that a device be placed on a car that won’t allow the vehicle to start if the amount of alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream measures more than a set level.
There are two basic drunk driving charges in Maryland – DUI and DWI. This blog post focuses on Maryland DWI penalties. A previous blog post discussed Maryland DUI penalties.
DWI stands for “driving while impaired.” A DWI can be charged when a driver’s blood alcohol is measured at .04% to .07%. Charging a DWI at the lower end of the scale is up to the judgment of the officer. In many instances, if you measure at the lower end of the scale and take a field sobriety test but fail the test, an officer will probably charge you with a DWI.
If a police officer suspects that you are operating a vehicle while impaired, the officer will probably request that you submit to a field sobriety test or a portable breath test.
If you test above the legal limit for alcohol, you may be issued an “Order of Suspension” as well as a traffic citation and the officer can take your Maryland driver’s license and can issue you a 45-day temporary paper license.
A DWI is a lesser offense than a DUI.
Penalties for a Maryland DWI charge
Penalties for Maryland DWIs vary, depending on whether it is a first offense. However, all Maryland DWI charges include license suspension and the possibility of jail time.
First offense DWIs result in fines up to $500, license suspension with a maximum of six months and eight points assessed against the driver’s license. A first offense Maryland DWI conviction doesn’t require mandatory minimum jail time, but offenders do face the possibility of up to two months of incarceration.
A second offense Maryland DWI charge generally includes license suspension with a maximum of 12 months, a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment of up to one year and eight points assessed against your driver’s license.
Penalties are higher for a third Maryland DWI charge or if the impaired driver is transporting a minor.
Maryland drivers must also satisfy two other requirements when convicted of a DWI. A Maryland driver must complete an Alcohol Education Program and must have an approved dealer install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on the car.
The Alcohol Education Program is a six-week, two-hour program that is offered by several providers around the state. Program fees vary and are set by the provider. Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration will send a referral letter into the program. A future blog post will describe the program in more detail.
The Ignition Interlock Device prevents a car from starting if it detects too much alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream. The convicted driver has to blow into a device and, if the driver’s blood alcohol exceeds a set level, the car will not start. A future blog post will provide further details on the device.
An experienced attorney can help you with your DWI charge in Ocean City, Baltimore, and throughout Maryland. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick can help you to get the best possible result. You can contact Thomas Maronick at (410) 934-3007 or via the website for a free consultation.