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DUI & DUI Drug Penalties in Maryland

Maryland DUI & DUI Drug PenaltiesThe first question that usually pops into the mind of someone who has been pulled over on an impaired driving charge is whether or not they have to worry about jail time. The prospect of spending time behind bars is understandably worrisome and the answer depends on a multitude of factors, many of which are specific to your case. DUI and DUI drug penalties can be severe, but with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney you have a better chance of minimizing the negative impacts that a conviction would have on your life.

Jail Time and Impaired Driving Charges in Maryland

Though many are eager to know a simple answer as to whether jail time is something they might face, it can be very hard if not impossible to provide a definitive answer. The law in Maryland is clear that jail is possible for anyone who is arrested and charged with a drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs offense, even first-time offenders. Anyone charged with a DUI faces a potential maximum period of one year behind bars, even first-time offenders. DWI, as the less serious impaired driving crime, comes with a maximum jail sentence of 60 days.

Though there are no easy answers to questions concerning jail time, it is generally rare for jail to be ordered for first-time offenders. That being said, specific facts of a case might prompt a judge to impose an unusually harsh sentence. For example, the presence of a child in a car at the time of the arrest, the severity of an intoxication, and whether anyone else was injured can all elevate a DUI/DWI punishment to one that includes jail time.

Driving under the Influence of Drugs in Maryland

Almost everyone understands how seriously drunk driving offenses are taken under Maryland law. What people may not understand is that many of these penalties apply equally to those who drive under the influence of drugs, even prescription drugs. The law in Maryland states that it is illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any substance that could potentially impact his or her ability to safely drive. This broad definition makes clear that the substance does not have to be illegal; meaning even prescription drugs given to a person by a doctor can be a basis for a drugged driving charge.

Lack of clear limit

If an officer in Maryland believes that a person is operating a vehicle under the influence of any substance that impairs driving, they have the right to pull them over and ask them to perform a chemical test for the presence of drugs or alcohol. While most people have heard of the legal limit that exists with regard to alcohol (.08 percent), no such clear limit exists when it comes to drugs. Because there is no way to give someone something like a breathalyzer test, for example, to determine the presence of drugs, most people will be asked to submit to a blood or urine test. The problem is that because there is no clear line for what level of drug use qualifies a driver as “impaired,” officers and prosecutors are given substantial power in determining what amount of intoxicating substance amounts to a DUI charge.

Drug DUI vs. Alcohol-Related DUI?

The penalties for a drug DUI and alcohol-related DUI are quite similar depending on the section a person is charged with. Maryland Transportation Article § 21-902 (c) prohibits driving while impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol. The law enforcement officer must be able to distinguish that there are drugs present and then whether drugs are present in addition to alcohol. The person can be charged with Section 21-902 (c) which has a maximum of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The more serious charge is Section 21-902 (b) which prohibits driving while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance listed in the federal government schedules. Schedule I level drugs are the most dangerous. There are other levels and other drugs involved. For Schedule I drugs, if a person is impaired and found guilty, the maximum penalty can be one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

When a person is found guilty of any of these charges and the guilty verdict remains on their record in lieu of what would be probation before judgment, the person faces the consequences of points on their license. That could be either 8 or 12, and could lead to a subsequent move by Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to suspend or revoke the person’s license.

Penalties

Any driver who is charged with driving under the influence of drugs faces serious penalties if convicted, just as if they had been charged with a DUI related to alcohol consumption. Fines, license suspension, and even jail time are possible depending on the severity of your particular case.

If you have been charged with DUI or DUI drugs in Maryland, an experienced criminal defense attorney is your best bet at minimizing the negative consequences that a conviction could have on your record. Call the Maryland law office today at (410) 782-0742 today for a free case evaluation.