Maryland DUI Laws (Everything You Should Know)

Maryland DUI Laws (Everything You Should Know)

Traffic laws are not just there to keep order on the road and maintain traffic flow. 

No, traffic laws also exist to keep you and others out of harm’s way.

Speaking of getting out of harm’s way, one of the most important laws to follow is the DUI law

So if you’re a driver in Maryland, then you must be acquainted with the Maryland DUI laws.

This is why, here, we’re going to tell you everything you should know about it — from the laws related to DUI to the penalties and other facts about it.

Let’s dive right in!

DUI Laws in Maryland

To fully understand the DUI laws in Maryland, let’s look at them one by one. 

DUI and DWI Laws

In Maryland, there’s a difference between a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Impaired). 

If you’re wondering what the difference is, then it is simply this — the amount of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) you have. 

Let’s explain this in detail. 

If you have a BAC level of 0.07% or higher, then you will be charged with DWI. 

But if your BAC level reaches 0.08% or higher, then that is considered a DUI. 

As you can see, a DUI is the more serious charge of the two This is because, since your BAC level is higher, you consumed more alcohol and are more likely to have blurred vision and slow reactions, and all the side effects of being drunk. 

Under-21 Alcohol Restriction

Maryland DUI Laws

Just like in most states, anyone below 21 years old is not legally allowed to drink in Maryland. 

So, if you’re under 21 and are caught with any alcohol in your blood, then you will be charged with DUI right away. 

Not only that, but your license will immediately be suspended or even revoked. It will also be charged with violating the under-21 alcohol restriction. 

What’s more, you may be required to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program (IIP). This program requires drivers to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles. This device can analyze and measure the driver’s BAC level and stops the vehicle’s ignition from starting if the levels exceed the setting. 

As you can see, Maryland has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking and driving.

Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) Laws

It’s not just alcohol that can impair you. 

The same is true for both illegal and prescription drugs. 

And yes, if you’re caught with any drug (even prescription drugs) that may cause driving under the influence or driving while impaired, you will be charged and have to face the penalties. 

So before you take your prescription pills, make sure you read the label and see if it will cause impaired driving, such as drowsiness, slow reaction time, blurry vision or mindset, etc. If so, then we advise you to take it after driving or have someone else drive for you. 

Implied Consent Law

How can a traffic enforcer know your BAC or CDS level?

Well, if they suspect you of DUI, they will pull you over and have you take a breath or blood test. This test will then show whether you go over the illegal BAC levels.  

Now, under Maryland’s Implied Consent Law, everyone that holds an MD driver’s license agrees to take the test. 

If you refuse, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be charged with DUI. In fact, refusing the test is a big reason to suspect you even more of going against the law.

Transporting Children Law

It’s one thing to be driving under the influence alone — it’s quite another thing when driving with a child onboard. 

You are putting them in danger they didn’t ask for. 

Because of that, you probably already know that the penalties will be even harsher — expect the court to double your jail time and fines.

Open Alcohol Container Law

Finally, there is the Open Alcohol Container Law. 

This law is not so much about drunk driving. Rather, it helps prevent drunk driving from happening. 

The Open Alcohol Container Law in Maryland states…

“It is against Maryland’s DUI laws to have an open alcohol container in a moving vehicle.”

And when we say open alcohol container, we mean an open can, bottle, or package of alcohol.  

Even if the container is empty, it is still not allowed. Having an empty container will imply drinking while or before driving, and you will still be penalized for that.

DUI Penalties in Maryland

As mentioned above, DUI is a heavier charge than DWI. 

So let’s look at the penalties for both.

A person with their first DUI charge will face these penalties:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • 12 driver’s license points
  • Up to 6 months of driver’s license suspension 

A person with a second DUI charge will face these penalties:

  • Up to 24 months in jail
  • Up to $2,000 in fines
  • 12 driver’s license points
  • Up to 12 months of driver’s license suspension 
  • May be required to participate in an Alcohol Abuse Assessment Program
  • Join the Ignition Interlock Program (if you get 2 convictions within 5 years)

A person with their first DWI charge will face these penalties:

  • Up to 2 months in jail
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • 8 driver’s license points
  • Maximum of 6 months license suspension

A person with a second DWI charge will face these penalties:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • 8 driver’s license points
  • Maximum of 12 months license suspension
  • 2-year license suspension (if you are under 21 years old)

Of course, for subsequent charges, or if you caused damage, injury, or death due to DUI, you will face more severe penalties implemented by the court. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Now that you’re familiar with the DUI laws and penalties in Maryland, let’s answer some frequently asked questions. 

How likely is jail time for first-time DUI offenders in Maryland?

Chances are you will have to render jail time even as a first-time offender in Maryland. Depending on your circumstance and if you have a reliable lawyer with you, you can lessen your jail time duration.

How long does a DUI stay on your record in Maryland?

Unfortunately, your DUI charge will stay on your record for life. This is why we and the state stress the importance to avoid driving if you are not in the best position to do so.

Is a DUI a felony in Maryland?

No, it is not. Charges for DUI and DWI are classified as misdemeanor cases.

How will I know if I’m sober enough to drive?

The fastest way to know if you’re sober is to do the same tests you are required to do if you are caught by the police, also known as the sobriety test.

You can try to walk in a straight line, count backward, and touch your finger to your nose with your eyes closed. Have a sober friend with you, so they can also check your sobriety levels.

Can I refuse sobriety field tests in Maryland?

No, under the Implied Consent Law, you have to submit to a sobriety test. That said, there is no penalty for refusing it. But just remember, any statement you make can be used against you. Plus, you can still be charged. 

So if you want to prove innocence or have evidence later on, then you should perform the sobriety test.


And that concludes your complete guide to the Maryland DUI laws. 

Sure, the many laws related to DUI and even more penalties can be hard to keep all in. 

But the only thing you really need to remember is — DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

You don’t want to risk getting caught. 

Even worse, you don’t want to risk your life as well as the life of others around you. 

So be a responsible driver! 

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