Maryland maintains stringent laws pertaining to drinking and driving, and the penalties that you can face for conviction of such a charge are severe. The ramifications of a second-offense charge of drinking while driving, however, are even more severe. These punishments don't stop at a loss of your license; you can face hefty fines or even jail time. If you are facing a second-offense charge of drinking while driving, James Peters can help provide the representation you need to defend against your charge.
What constitutes DUI and DWI in Maryland: the Elements of § 21–902
Maryland's drunk driving laws are laid out in Title 21, Subtitle 9 of the 2017 Maryland Transportation Code. Subsection (a)(1) states that
[a] person may not drive or attempt to drive any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
For purposes of the statute, a person is presumed to be under the influence (DUI) of alcohol when his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. This level of intoxication is known as being under the influence of alcohol "per se," meaning that a person is presumed to be too intoxicated to safely operate a vehicle.
Subsection (b)(1) states that
[a] person may not drive or attempt to drive any vehicle while impaired by alcohol.
Subsection (c)(1) states that
[a] person may not drive or attempt to drive any vehicle while so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person cannot drive a vehicle safely.
Subsection (d)(1) states that
[a] A person may not drive or attempt to drive any vehicle while the person is impaired by any controlled dangerous substance, as that term is defined in § 5–101 of the Criminal Law Article, if the person is not entitled to use the controlled dangerous substance under the laws of this State.
If a person is found to have consumed alcohol or used drugs to the point that he or she can no longer drive safely, he or she can be found to be driving while impaired (DWI). While a lesser charge for alcohol, penalties for a DWI conviction can still be severe, especially if the DWI is related to drugs.
Refusing an Alcohol Test in Maryland
If you are pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence or driving while impaired in Maryland, it is important to understand that Maryland is an implied consent state with regard to alcohol testing. In other words, you automatically consent to submit to alcohol testing as a condition of receiving your driver's license.
If you refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test or breathalyzer, you can face a whopping 2-year suspension of your driving privileges. This punishment is actually more severe than if you were to submit to blood alcohol testing and fail the test. Still, most criminal defense attorneys would recommend that you do not submit to the test if you have been drinking.
MD Penalties for a Second-Offense DUI / DWI Conviction
When it comes to DUI and DWI, second-time offenders face more serious charges upon conviction than those who have never had a prior conviction. To determine if a DUI or DWI offense is a second defense for the purpose of penalties, a second violation of §§ 21–902 (a), (b), (c), or (d) must have occurred within 5 years of the first conviction of any of the same convictions.
Second-time offenders can face the following punishments if convicted:
- Second-Offense DUI: imprisonment for up to 2 years and/or a fine of up to $2,000
- Second-Offense DWI for alcohol: imprisonment for up to 1 year and/or a fine of up to $500
- Second-Offense DWI for drugs: imprisonment for up to 1 year or a fine of up to $500
- Second-Offense DWI for controlled substances: imprisonment for up to 2 years and/or a fine up to $2,000.
Aggravating Factors in a DUI Charge
When facing a second-offense DUI charge, there are several factors that can enhance the penalties that you face if you are convicted of your charge.
Underage at the Time of the Charge
The state of Maryland has even more stringent rules when it comes to minors drinking while driving; thanks to Maryland's Zero Tolerance law regarding underage drinking, a person under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI if his or her blood alcohol content is 0.02 or higher.
Maryland takes a DUI charge very seriously but has even less tolerance for individuals who put the lives of a child at risk by transporting a minor while driving under the influence. Second-time offenders face the following ramifications if found to be transporting a minor at the same time:
- Second-Offense DUI while transporting a minor: imprisonment for up to 3 years and/or a fine of up to $3,000
- Second-Offense DWI for alcohol while transporting a minor: imprisonment for up to 1 year and/or a fine of up to $2,000
- Second-Offense DWI for drugs while transporting a minor: imprisonment for up to 1 year or a fine of up to $2,000
- Second-Offense DWI for controlled substances while transporting a minor: imprisonment for up to 3 years and/or a fine up to $3,000.
Defenses to a DUI Charge
In some cases, your attorney may be able to introduce a legal defense that could have a positive impact on the outcome of your case. Some of the most common defenses in a DUI or DWI charge include:
Fourth Amendment Violations
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides individuals freedom from unlawful searches and seizures by a police officer. With respect to a DUI or DWI charge, the most important Fourth Amendment violation is an officer performing a traffic stop without reasonable suspicion that you were committing a crime. If your arresting officer had no indication that you were violating a traffic law or were driving under the influence at the time you were pulled over, your Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated, providing you a powerful defense to your charge.
Faulty Alcohol Testing
While alcohol tests have gotten more accurate over the years, they are not infallible and do not provide irrefutable proof that you were driving while under the influence. You may be able to challenge your alcohol tests if, for instance:
- The breathalyzer was not properly maintained or calibrated;
- The breathalyzer test or blood test was not properly administered; or
- The blood sample was not properly handled through the custody chain.
Depending on the individual circumstances surrounding your charge, a criminal defense attorney who has experience defending against charges of driving under the influence or driving while impaired may be able to assert these defenses. These defenses can have a huge impact on your case; you may be able to have your penalties reduced, or -- in some cases -- they may lead to your charges being dropped altogether.
Facing a DUI for the Second Time? We're Here to Help
If you are facing a second charge of driving under the influence, it's important to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows the ropes when it comes to DUI defense. Don't try to fight a DUI charge alone -- the stakes are high for a first-time offender, and even more serious if you are charged with a subsequent offense.
James Peters is dedicated to helping defend his clients against their criminal charges and is standing by to help you as well. To schedule a consultation to speak with a member of our legal team about your case, fill out an online contact form or call (301) 795-8272 today.