In Maryland, like other U.S. states, the legal drinking age is 21. Persons charged with drinking under 21 face a fine and a misdemeanor conviction. When someone commits a DUI offense while drinking underage, the penalties could be far more severe. However, it might be possible to fight the charges, depending on the circumstances.
Underage DUI offenses in Maryland
Driving under the influence (DUI) offenses involve someone operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%. That BAC figure refers to persons age 21 and over. Anyone under 21 is not legally allowed to consume alcohol, so an underage drinker could face legal troubles with a BAC of 0.02% in Maryland.
Persons convicted of an underage DUI offense could face a fine of up to $1,000 and must have an interlock ignition device installed in their vehicle. A license suspension is also possible, and the suspension could affect the defendant’s ability to work or go to school.
The one possible penalty that might frighten a DUI suspect would be possible jail time. An underage DUI conviction comes with the potential penalty of up to one year in jail.
Addressing underage DUI charges
Although someone faces DUI charges, that does not mean the person was intoxicated. A false positive could lead to legal problems, and the evidence may end up challenged in court. Over-the-counter cold medicines might lead to a positive result on a breathalyzer. With an underage DUI, the BAC level is quite low, so even a small amount of alcohol in these products could cause trouble for a driver.
Probable cause factors into a DUI/DWI traffic stop. If a police officer lacked probable cause, the arrest might not stand.
Those looking at a conviction might petition the court for leniency. The court may lower a fine or not sentence the defendant to jail time, depending on the case’s particulars.