First DUI Offense Penalties in Maryland

Driving under the influence of alcohol in Maryland is a deadly act. According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, someone is killed every 58 hours by a Maryland drunk driver. Each year, there are more than 8,000 crashes within the state due to impaired driving and 35 percent of these result in injuries. Maryland law enforcement agencies take a strong stand against DUI beginning with the first offense.

First DUI Conviction Penalties in Maryland

Drivers age 21 and older can be charged with DUI if their blood-alcohol content (BAC) measures 0.08 percent or higher. Their driver licenses can be revoked at the time of arrest and if found guilty of Maryland DUI, they will lose their licenses for six months, pay fines up to $1,000, and spend up to a year in jail. Those who refuse to take breathalyzer tests also face automatic license suspension and upon conviction, are subject to additional fines of up to $500 and two additional months in jail.

These are serious consequences for a one-time mistake and Maryland goes to great lengths to catch drivers under the influence and impose these penalties. Checkpoint Strikeforce is an information and enforcement campaign with a zero-tolerance perspective. It uses sobriety checkpoints and targets males ages 21 to 35, as this is the highest-risk demographic for drunk driving.

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration also participates in a statewide Impaired Driving Coalition. This network of law enforcement, local and state agencies, and private businesses develops and implements projects and campaigns to prevent impaired driving. The Coalition also considers recommendations made by the state DUI Task Force and other similar groups regarding stronger penalties and increased enforcement for impaired driving. As one example, in 2011, the state began requiring installation of ignition interlock devices for DUI offenders with 0.15 or higher BAC.

Underage DUI in Maryland

The legal drinking age in Maryland is 21 and law enforcement officials have zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. An initial DUI conviction for an underage driver carries a fine of $500 to $1,000, six-month driver license suspension, and up to two months in jail. Other consequences include substantial increases in monthly auto insurance premiums or cancellation of insurance policies in addition to a permanent criminal record.

Underage drivers in possession of alcohol or transporting other underage drunk individuals face additional charges. Committing a crime by drinking and driving is no way to begin a driving career. However, not all teen and adult drivers charged with DUI are guilty so obtaining legal counsel is recommended to avoid unwarranted conviction.

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