As the holiday season starts up, it’s easy for drivers to find themselves in a position where they are drinking and driving. According to the National Highway and Safety Administration, drunk driving accidents increase during the holiday season. Starting Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, there are more alcohol-related accidents than at any time of year.
Nationally, over the past five years, 300 people on average died in drunk driving crashes the week between Christmas and New Year. In 2016, 781 people nationwide lost their lives in crashes related to drunk driving just in the month of December.
In Maryland, during the 2019 holiday season between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, Maryland State Police reported arresting 149 people for driving under the influence.
Most instances of DWI and DUI occur in large metropolitan areas. Nearly half of all impaired driving accidents occur in the Baltimore area. Last year, a driver in Ocean City who had multiple arrests for drunk driving was involved in a crash in the seaside city where one man died. The impaired driver was sentenced to 17 years in jail. In December 2019, an Annapolis man died after he was struck by a car that police believe was driven by a drunk driver.
Lawmakers often make changes to Maryland drunk driving laws. Last year, Maryland’s politicians increased the penalties for driving while impaired (DWI) and driving while under the influence (DUI). The “Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act” took effect Oct. 1, 2019. The law increased the maximum jail time for those convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence from three to five years and it doubled prison time from five to 10 years for drivers with prior convictions.
There are two basic drunk driving charges in Maryland – DUI and DWI.
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. A DWI is a lesser offense than a DUI.
DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” Being charged with a DUI in Maryland means that your blood alcohol concentration posted at 0.08% or higher. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol present in a 100 milliliter (mL) volume of blood. A DUI is a greater offense than a DWI.
If you are facing a DWI or DUI charge in Maryland, an experienced attorney can help. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience fighting Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Ocean City, Towson, White Marsh DUI/DWI charges.
The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic and continues to meet your legal needs. We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.885.1775 or via our website for a free consultation.