Aggravating Factors in Maryland DUI Cases
There are a variety of situations that can act as aggravating factors when it comes to drunk driving convictions in Maryland. One example of such an aggravating factor is if a drunk driver is involved in an accident that leaves another person injured. If you have been charged with a DUI in Maryland, and your conduct resulted in injury to another person, it is important to contact a Maryland DUI lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you craft a strong defense that can help reduce any penalties you may be facing.
Severity of the Charge
The law in Maryland specifically states that it is illegal for one driver to cause another person life-threatening injury as a result of operating a vehicle under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. If a drunk driver is convicted of causing life-threatening injuries to another person, then he or she faces an additional misdemeanor charge. Penalties for causing serious bodily injury while under the influence include a two-year prison term and fines of up to $3,000.
Sometimes, drunk driving accidents can result in a fatality. The law has been written to deal with such situations very harshly, often handing down lengthy prison sentences to offenders. Maryland’s law says that anyone who operates a vehicle under the influence and causes another person’s death in the process faces up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. It is important to note that beyond these criminal sanctions, the offender also faces a likely civil lawsuit from the surviving family members of the person that was killed. This civil suit can leave the already punished driver financially devastated.
Drunk Driving in Minors
If an individual is under 21 years of age and lives in the United States, they are not old enough to legally consume alcohol. This restriction has been taken seriously by law enforcement officers in Maryland who have passed relatively restrictive laws concerning minors and alcohol consumption. In Maryland, the drunk driving restrictions for underage drivers is substantially lower than for those drivers 21 and over. Though adult drivers must abide by the state’s 0.08 percent legal limit, drivers under 21 can be charged with an alcohol violation if they are discovered to be driving with a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher.
If a minor is arrested and charged with drunk driving, he or she should expect to face different punishment than an adult driver arrested for the same crime. An underage driver with a BAC above 0.02 percent but below 0.08 percent will lose his or her license for six months. The underage driver will also be obligated to perform at least 20 hours of community service as part of his or her punishment.
Punishment is increased for underage drivers who are found with a BAC of 0.08 and higher. These drivers face the loss of their driving privileges for an entire year and will be disallowed from applying for a limited driving permit in the meantime. These underage drivers will also be forced to serve at least 40 hours of community service, and can face similar fines and other punishments reserved for adult drivers.
Drunk Driving with Children
Everyone understands how harsh most Maryland DUI laws already are. With fines, license suspension/revocation, insurance hikes and even jail time, penalties are already quite substantial. However, the law has been written so that individuals who are found driving under the influence with young children in the car face even harsher punishment. Maryland law clearly says that driving drunk or impaired with a minor child in the car serves as an aggravating factor to DUI charges. The law says that penalties will be enhanced if an impaired driver is found to have transported a passenger under the age of 18.
Under Maryland law, a driver convicted of a DUI with a minor in the car faces a fine of up to $1,000 instead of the usual $500 maximum. Someone convicted of a first time DUI with a minor in the car faces a $2,000 fine and up to two years in jail as opposed to the typical $1,000 fine and up to one year behind bars. For second offenses involving minor children, the punishments continue to reach upward. A second DWI with a minor in the car will result in potential $2,000 fines, four times more than in standard DWI cases. Second DUIs can involve $3,000 in fines and three years in jail. For third offenses, a driver in Maryland faces $4,000 in fines and a greatly increased chance of spending serious time behind bars.
Benefits of an Attorney
Driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated are serious offenses in the state of Maryland. The severity of these offenses can be compounded if the DUI resulted in injury to another person or motorist, or if there was a minor in the vehicle. Moreover, the penalties for driving under the influence, or while intoxicated as a minor are substantial. In such cases, it is strongly recommended that the defendant seek the advice of experienced legal counsel.