DUI & DWI in Maryland
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One bad choice is all it takes to send your life reeling. Considering the youthful nature of the state population, you might expect there is plenty of spirited fun to be had. DC is right next door. It feels like there is a university every other mile and there is an overabundance of young political aides always looking to blow off a bit of steam.
So a few drinks here or there are as much a part of the political game as, say, the handshake. This is all well and good until someone decides to hop behind the wheel after a few too many drinks with the gang. If you are pulled over, you could possibly be charged with two types of offenses.
Being charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the top alcohol infraction. It means, among other things, that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) posted at a level of .08% or higher. In Maryland, the offense is extremely severe in the sense that 12 points automatically are marked against your license. This results in instant revocation of your license.
The monetary fine for a first offense is $1,000, and $2,000 for a second offense. But these costs are nothing compared to the money involved with going court and/or hiring an attorney. All total, a DWI charge can set you back up to $10,000.
Although driving under the influence (DUI) is a lesser infraction under Maryland law, it is still a serious offense. If your BAC is between .04% and .07%, you'll be charged with a DUI.
In many cases, people who end up on the lower end of the BAC spectrum but fail miserably on a field sobriety test end up with this charge. Officer judgment is a major factor. The end result is eight points tallied against your driving record and a $500 fine (for both a first and second offense). Jail time can range from 60 days from the first offense and up to a year for the second.
- If you fail the roadside sobriety test, which could entail anything from standing on one leg while answering a barrage of questions to touching your nose and walking a straight line, you will be read your rights.
- You will enjoy a complimentary ride in a police car to jail―in tight handcuffs.
- A tow truck will take your car and impound it.
- A Breathalyzer test will be offered under the implied consent laws, and if you refuse it, you can say good-bye to your license at that point; it will be confiscated. You may never see it again, as it will be suspended.
- You will get to sober up in a jail cell. Depending on how much you had to drink, this could be just a few long hours or a never-ending day. While you are sitting behind bars, a whole series of events could be set into motion that will affect your employment, your financial stability, and your family.
Under the implied consent laws you have a couple of options to choose from when offered a Breathalyzer and/or field sobriety test.
Administrative Per Se: If you fail the roadside sobriety test or blow a 0.08% or more in the field, the chances are pretty high that you will be arrested at that point. Depending on the officer's tendencies or discretion, you may have to fork over your driver license before you are read your rights and cuffed. Yes, you will be handcuffed. Face it, you will be under arrest and headed to jail.
Other officers will wait until processing at the jail before taking your driver license. Either way, it will be gone from your possession for a while. If you are convicted of the DWI, the time your license was in the hands of the police will be credited to the overall revocation or suspension.
Refusal: You can refuse to take the tests. While you do have the right to not take the test, the state has a right to impose a hefty consequence for making that call. Even if you are later found not guilty of the charge, your license will be suspended for 120 days to one year for refusing to take the breath test. Before you plead guilty to any crime, however, it's advisable to consult a DWI attorney.
Simply put, blood alcohol concentration is how much alcohol is pulsing through your blood and giving you the feel-good high of intoxication. While there are numerous factors affecting each individual's BAC, and it will vary from person to person even after the same number of drinks, scientists have come up with a few basic averages.
Cresting the 0.08% BAC level would require a 170-pound guy with an empty stomach to imbibe around four drinks in one hour. To match this BAC, a woman weighing in around 140 pounds would need to have three drinks in an hour on an empty stomach. So the variable is based on body weight, time frame vs. amount consumed, and time elapsed between drinks. As far as alcohol content per drink, a glass of wine, one beer, and one shot all carry about equal weight.
If your license was revoked due to a DUI or DWI offense, you will need to attend an Alcohol Education Program before applying for a new one. The 12-hour program is designed to steer you clear of any future incidents involving intoxicating beverages and cars―unless from a seat in a taxi or bus.
The course also takes a physiological route and analyzes each participant to determine whether there is a more serious problem involved with abuse or dependency. If you fall into this category the division will require you to undergo more intensive therapy in the form of a 26-week treatment program.
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