Topics on this page
- Definition of DUI/DWI
- Traffic Stop
- The Administrative Hearing for License Suspension
- Ignition Interlock Program
- Criminal Proceedings for DWI or DUI
- Commercial License Drivers
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) / Driving While Impaired (DWI)
The State of Maryland prohibits drinking and driving. If you drink and drive, you may be arrested, fined, and/or sentenced to jail time. The following is for general informational purposes only and you should consider hiring a lawyer to represent you in court.
In Maryland, there are two types of drinking and driving offenses.
The first, and most severe offense, is called driving while under the influence (commonly called DUI). A person who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater is assumed to be under the influence of alcohol. Maryland law calls a BAC of .08 or above “under the influence per se.”
The second is called driving while impaired (commonly called DWI). A person who has a blood alcohol concentration of .07 is assumed to be impaired by alcohol.
It is also crime to drive while impaired by drugs (even legal drugs), drugs and alcohol, or controlled dangerous substances like marijuana. Driving with any combination of drugs and/or alcohol that prevent you from driving safely is illegal.
A person under the age of 21 who drives with any alcohol in their system is breaking the law. If that person is caught, they will be arrested and charged with a DUI.
When a police officer suspects that a person is driving, or attempting to drive, while impaired or under the influence of alcohol, the officer will ask to test the driver’s blood alcohol concentration. If the driver takes the test and the result is a BAC of .08 or above (or if the driver refuses to take the test), the officer will confiscate the person’s driver license, and the State of Maryland will suspend the person’s drive license. You will receive a temporary paper license that allows the driver to drive for 45 days. The suspension begins on the 46th day.
License suspensions range from 180 days to 2 years, depending on the amount of alcohol and previous drunk driving offenses. There are increased penalties for drivers who are transporting children while impaired or under the influence of alcohol.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Transportation § 16-205.1
The Administrative Hearing for License Suspension
The driver has a right to ask the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) for a hearing to review a license suspension.
- A request for a hearing must be sent in within 30 days to the MVA.
- If you want to make sure that your driving privilege is not suspended prior to your hearing, you must send a request for a hearing within 10 days of the traffic stop.
- If the driver does not request a hearing, the suspension will automatically begin on the 46th day.
- If the driver requested a hearing within 30 days, but not within 10 days, the suspension will automatically begin on the 46th day. A request made after the 10 days does not extend a temporary license issued by the police officer.
- A hearing request postmarked after the 30th day will be denied.
At the hearing, the only facts that the Motor Vehicle Administration will consider are:
- Whether the police officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of or impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Whether there was evidence the driver used alcohol or drugs
- Whether the police officer requested a test after the officer warned the driver of the penalties for refusal or a failed test
- Whether the person refused to take the test
- Whether the person drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at the time of testing;
- Whether the person drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more at the time of testing;
- If the hearing involves disqualification of a commercial driver’s license, whether the person was operating a commercial motor vehicle or held a commercial driver’s license; and
- Whether the person was involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in the death of another person.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Transportation § 16-205.1
If, at the end of the hearing, the MVA’s Administrative Law Judge believes the driver was properly pulled over, warned, and failed or refused to take the test, the judge will suspend the person’s driver license.
Ignition Interlock Program
Under certain circumstances, a driver can request to participate in the Ignition Interlock System Program. The MVA monitors this program, where a driver can only operate a motor vehicle that is equipped with an ignition interlock device. The MVA has more information about this program on its website.
The system cannot record sound or take video, but will take a still photograph of the person taking the test or if the device is being tampered with.
Criminal Proceedings for DWI or DUI
If a person has been arrested for a DWI or DUI, he or she will be charged with a crime and must go to court. Drunk-driving offenses are misdemeanor crimes in Maryland.
If a person is found guilty of a DWI or DUI, he or she faces a hefty fine and jail time. Penalties can range from a $500 fine and two months in jail up to a $5,000 fine and five years in jail.
If the DWI or DUI occurs when transporting a minor, the length of jail terms are much longer. The punishments for DWI and DUI increase with each subsequent conviction.
The Motor Vehicle Administration will put “points” on the record of any driver convicted of a DUI or DWI. Points stay on the driver’s record for two years.
- A driver who is convicted of a DWI will get 8 points, making him/her eligible for a license suspension.
- A driver who is convicted of a DUI will get 12 points, making him/her eligible for license revocation.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Transportation § 16-402
Commercial License Drivers
The penalties and procedures for commercial license drivers may be different. Check out the information about commercial driver's licenses from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) for more information.