An Overview of Maryland Drunk Driving Laws

In Maryland, it is unlawful to get behind the wheel of a car and drive while under the influence of alcohol.  And, while no one intends on hurting anyone while drinking and driving, it happens more frequently than anyone would like.

This is why the state of Maryland takes such as hard stance against drunk drivers.  In fact, when it comes drunk driving, Maryland has a zero tolerance policy.

Maryland Drunk Driving Test Laws

But there is more to it than that.

Before you get ready to enjoy a night out on the town, take a look at this overview of drunk driving laws in Maryland and the consequences that await you, should you get caught trying to drive home under the influence.


Blood Alcohol Content Limits in Maryland

In Maryland, drunk or impaired driving is broken down into 4 separate crimes:

  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) – 0.08% BAC or higher
  • Driving While Impaired by Alcohol (DWI) – 0.04% – 0.08% BAC
  • Driving While Impaired by Drugs or a Combination of Drugs and Alcohol
  • Driving While Impaired by a Controlled Dangerous Substance


Today, however, we are going to focus solely on DUIs and DWIs.


In addition to understanding the differences between a DUI and DWI, it is important to understand the breakdown of blood alcohol content (BAC) limits.

  • Below 0.05% BAC. The presumption here is that the driver is not impaired by or under the influence of alcohol.  There needs to be sufficient evidence of actual impairment for a DWI charge to stick.
  • 05% – 0.06 BAC. Again, there is no presumption here that the driver is impaired.  However, combined with other evidence such as a confession or a failure to pass field sobriety tests may result in a DWI conviction.
  • 07% BAC. Here the presumption is that the driver is impaired while driving.  The only way out of this DWI conviction is a solid defense by an experienced DUI attorney in Baltimore.
  • 08% BAC or higher. This is considered a DUI per se.  This means that anyone with a BAC of 0.08 or higher is automatically found to be impaired and can be found guilty of a DUI charge, whether there is any evidence of impairment or not.



When it comes to underage drinking, Maryland truly enforces the “zero tolerance “policy.  If a person under the age of 21 is driving, and has any alcohol in their system (0.00 to 0.02 BAC), the underage drinker will automatically receive a DUI.  This is in an effort to combat the nearly 35% of alcohol related motorized vehicle crash fatalities that plague 15- to 20-year-olds.

In addition, those who drive commercial vehicles have a stricter standard when it comes to drinking and driving.  The maximum BAC limit for a commercial driver 0.04%.

As you can see, Maryland breaks down the BAC limits into distinct levels so that you, your Baltimore defense attorney, and the judge are well aware of your level of impairment and the possible consequences you face if convicted.


Criminal Penalties for Drinking and Driving in Baltimore, Maryland

Maryland Drunk Driving Lawyer

If you are found guilty of drinking and driving in Baltimore, the criminal consequences you face will depend on how many previous offenses you have had and the seriousness of the situation.


1st Offense


2nd Offense3rd Offense
JailUp to 1 year (DUI)

Up to 2 mths. (DWI)


Up to 2 years (DUI)

Up to 1 Year (DWI)

Up to 3 years (DUI and DWI)
Fines and PenaltiesUp to $1,000 (DUI)

Up to $500 (DWI)


Up to $2,000 (DUI)

Up to $500 (DWI)

Up to $3,000 (DUI and DWI)
License Suspension/RevocationMin. 6 months (DUI)


1 year (DUI)Min. 18 months (DUI)
Interlock Ignition Device RequiredPossiblyYesYes


Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program

As you can see, the more drunk driving convictions you have, the more consequences you face.  In fact, one of the key consequences is the requirement that you have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) placed in your motorized vehicle once you are legally able to drive again.

Since drinking and driving is a national public health and safety issue, Maryland does its part to crack down on drunk driving by implementing the Ignition Interlock Program statewide.

Here are some of the key facts you should know about this program:

  • Enrollment into the program begins once your license suspension has been lifted
  • You are required to participate in the program if you have been convicted of a DUI, a DWI while transporting a minor, or a homicide or life-threatening injury by motor vehicle while DUI or DWI
  • Your first offense will be a 6 month long participation, your second offense is 1 year, your third (or any subsequent offense) is 3 years
  • You may have the option to immediately opt-in to the program to avoid license suspension


In the end, the best way to avoid having to participate in Maryland’s IID Program is to not drink and drive.  However, people make mistakes and should seek the advice of a DUI attorney in Baltimore if arrested on suspicion of a DUI or DWI.


Administrative Penalties for Drinking and Driving in Baltimore, Maryland

Anytime you are convicted of violating a vehicle-related law, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is notified.  You are then assigned corresponding points to your driving record.

Here is a breakdown of the Maryland point system:

  • 3 to 4 points. You receive a warning letter.
  • 5 to 7 points. You are required to enter the Driver Improvement Program (DIP).
  • 8 to 11 points. Your license is suspended.  You have two options – either accept the suspension or request a hearing to fight the suspension.
  • 12 or more points. Your license is revoked.  Again, you have two options – either accept the revocation or request a hearing.


If you have 8 or more driving record points, and have been convicted of a DUI or DWI, you may be able to opt into the IID Program to avoid having your license suspended.

A DUI conviction in Maryland will automatically garner you 12 points on your driving record, whereas a DWI will get you 8 points.

Here is a helpful table by FindLaw showing you DUI and DWI point and revocation time periods.



Maryland’s Implied Consent Law

Maryland Implied Consent Laws for Drunk Drivers

In Maryland, if you are pulled over by a police officer that has reason to believe you are drinking and driving, you are required by law to take a blood, breath, or urine test.

If you refuse any of these tests, and have been legally pulled over under the suspicion of drinking and driving, you then face an automatic license suspension:


1st Offense2nd Offense3rd Offense


Refusal to Take Test120 day license suspension1 year license suspension1 year license suspension



It is important to note that an office cannot force you to take any one of the sobriety tests unless you were involve in an accident that caused serious injury or death.

If you refuse to take a test, the police officer then takes your license away from you and gives you a temporary license that is good for 45 days.  You have the option to request a hearing within 10 days if you want to challenge the suspension.

Lastly, if you do not want to request a hearing, but wish to continue driving, you have the option of requesting a restricted license that will last for one year and come with an IID on your car.

Though these options seem like a great way to get out of a DUI or DWI conviction, remember that there is always a chance that you will still be convicted of a DUI or DWI despite not having your BAC level tested.

In fact, upon refusal to take the test, the officer can still detain you and book you under suspicion of drinking and driving based on other external factors.

In the end, being charged with a DUI or DWI in the state of Maryland is serious.  There are many laws protecting the innocent people that fall victim to those who drink and drive, and legislation in place to penalize people drinking and driving.

If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI in the Baltimore area, seek the counsel of Dilip Paliath, Esq. immediately.  He is an experienced DUI attorney that has faced the courtroom plenty of times defending those charged with drinking and driving.

Don’t risk excessive fines, license suspensions, and even jail time by not enlisting the help of Dilip.  Having a seasoned lawyer such as him on your side will only help your chances of getting through the complex Maryland legal system.

Dedicated to his clients, Dilip Paliath, Esq. has what it takes to explain your rights and potential consequences, both criminal and administrative, if you are charged with a DUI or DWI in Maryland.  He is also capable of providing you with the very best defense in town and helping you move past your mistake.


Dilip Paliath, Esq.

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