The Law Office of Matthew E. Bennett
A Maryland Law Firm Based in Silver Spring And Serving Surrounding Communities
301-960-5347

A charge of impaired driving can have life-changing consequences

You have just been taken into custody for drinking and driving and you cannot stop worrying about how this incident will affect you in the short term and long term. Will your face appear in the local news, and will you lose your job or have trouble landing another job in the future?

Impaired driving is illegal in every state, including in Maryland, and can lead to serious consequences. Here is a rundown of what Maryland law says about drinking and driving.

Blood alcohol level limits in Maryland

The state has two drunk driving levels. The first involves driving while under the influence, or DUI -- which means driving when your blood alcohol level is a .08 or higher. In this situation, the state would not have to provide other evidence that you were drinking. For example, prosecutors would not need to show that you failed a field sobriety test or that the officer smelled alcohol on your breath.

The second level is driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, or DWI. This crime, which involves a lower blood alcohol content limit of .07, is not as severe of a crime. Prosecutors may need to provide additional evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you could not safely operate a motor vehicle due to impairment.

Underage drivers and commercial drivers

Maryland prohibits all individuals under the age of 21 from engaging in drunk driving. Therefore, if a person younger than 21 years old were caught drinking and driving, this person would receive a DUI even if he or she were not impaired. The maximum blood alcohol level for individuals in this age range is .02.

In addition, a stricter standard is in place for commercial drivers compared with regular passenger car drivers when it comes to drunk driving in Maryland. The blood alcohol level limit for commercial drivers in the state is .04.

Your rights following a drunk driving arrest

If you end up with a DUI conviction, you can expect to receive a potential jail sentence of one year, two years, and three years for a first, second and third offense respectively. Your fines could also be as high as $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000 respectively. Meanwhile, for a DWI conviction, your jail time could be two months or one year for a first and subsequent offense, respectively. In addition, your fine will be $500 each time.

However, if you face an impaired driving charge, you have the right to challenge this charge. It may be possible to expose any weaknesses in the prosecution's case by calling into question the accuracy of a breath test, for example. The goal in such a case is to to achieve the most personally advantageous outcome possible given the facts of the case.

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The Law Office of Matthew E. Bennett
8720 Georgia Avenue
Suite 701
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Phone: 301-960-5347
Fax: 301-589-1585
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Attorney Matthew E. Bennett