During this year’s legislative session, Maryland passed two bills that create stricter penalties for alcohol crimes. These Maryland DUI Laws have many exceptions and a good lawyer can help you through the confusion.
In December 2015, Montgomery County Police Officer Noah Leotta was fatally struck by a drunk driver while he was on DUI patrol and conducting a traffic stop. The tragic death of Officer Leotta led Maryland legislators and advocates to push for one of the strictest DUI laws in the United States. Noah’s Law now requires ignition interlocks to be installed in the cars of all individuals convicted of drunk driving, including first time offenders.
The ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer connected to the car’s ignition. It requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece in order to start the vehicle. If the blood-alcohol concentration of the driver is greater than the programmed allowable limit, the device prevents the driver from operating the vehicle.
The New Legislation
Initially, interlocks were only required for drivers convicted of drunk driving with a blood alcohol concentration level of at least 0.15%. The new law now provides interlocks for first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration level of at least 0.08% who would not otherwise be eligible for a restricted license for work or school purposes. Also, Interlock is now mandatory for who have had their license suspended for refusing a breathalyzer test, those who have been convicted of motor vehicle homicide while impaired and those who have been convicted of reckless or negligent driving in connection with an alcohol or drug offense. There are defenses and different options for Ignition Interlock, so it is now more important than before to consult with an attorney about the many, many options before selecting the ignition interlock program, either before or after a hearing.
The driver who crashed into Officer Leotta was reported to have been so impaired at the time of the accident that he could barely stand. He also told the responding officer at the scene, had smoked marijuana before driving. This incident was not the first in which the driver was convicted of driving while impaired. According to Christine Nizer, the head of the state Motor Vehicle Administration, ignition interlocks have prevented drivers from making 4,000 impaired trips in the past year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support this claim, stating that these devices reduce repeat offenses by 67%.
Alex and Calvin’s Law
The Maryland General Assembly passed a second bill that addresses alcohol crimes. Alex and Calvin’s Law gives judges the discretion to put parents who host underage drinking parties in jail. The legislation is named after two 18-year-olds who lost their lives last year after they got in a car with an intoxicated driver leaving an underage drinking party hosted by an adult. The parent, who hosted the party and provided alcohol to underage drinkers, only paid a fine of $5,000 following the death of Alex and Calvin as previous legislation detailed that the maximum punishment for this offense was a $2500 fine per citation.
Under the new legislation, a person who provides alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age of 21 can be incarcerated for up to one year and/or pay a fine of up to $5,000 for the first offense. A second or subsequent offense would lead to incarceration for up to two years and/or a fine of up to $7,500.
Maryland DUI Laws Bottom Line
If you find yourself charged with a Maryland DUI, you need an attorney who keeps up with the changes in the law that could dramatically affect your ability to drive! For more information on DUI and DWI violations, or to learn more about the new laws, contact the experienced DUI lawyers at the Law Offices of Eldridge and Nachtman.