Maryland has a high concentration of colleges and universities, and as a result, a large population of teens and young adults. The state’s proximity to Washington, D.C., in addition, makes it a desirable location for young professionals beginning their professional careers. It should come as no surprise then that Maryland law enforcement officers frequently come into contact with underage drinking and drunk driving. For young professionals, students and older adults alike, Memorial Day weekend offers an opportunity to celebrate and relax.

When the consumption of alcohol is involved, however, social expectations do not always translate to compliance with state or federal law. If a party involving underage drinking is held in a home in Maryland, the homeowner could face serious penalties, including jail, even if the homeowner is absent at the time. Consequences may be far more serious for the underage drinkers themselves, who are at risk of injury or death from binge drinking, drunk driving or simply from being the passenger in the car of a drunk driver.

A person who is caught driving drunk could face up to a year in jail, depending on the severity of the offense. Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are the two possible offenses a driver could face with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or higher. Penalties for both offenses increase in severity in relation to the frequency of alcohol-related driving offenses.

Alcohol education should not begin only after a drunk driver’s first alcohol-related offense. Parents in particular are urged to create change within their communities to influence more frequent discussions of alcohol’s risks with their teens. Parents who maintain a casual attitude towards underage drinking all too often unknowingly contribute to the growing numbers of injuries or deaths as the result of irresponsible or illegal drinking.

Before you make Memorial Day plans, take the following possible consequences into careful consideration. It may then be beneficial to have a conversation with your loved ones about how to enjoy the holiday responsibly, and how best to influence your friends and family to respect alcohol laws, to be excellent role models for the young members of the community, and to have the safest possible holiday weekend.

If you are pulled over and your BAC is 0.08% or higher, a police officer may charge you with a DUI. If this is your first offense, you could face penalties including a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Second time offenders face increased penalties such as a one year license revocation period, a mandatory jail time minimum of five days with the possibility of up to a two year sentence, and the required installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle.

Second time offenders may also be required to complete an alcohol abuse program and medical assessment, which serve two purposes: to educate offenders to prevent future DWIs or DUIs, and to evaluate them for deeper psychological or physiological issues that could be influencing alcohol use or abuse.

Drivers can be charged with DWI if their BAC is at or below 0.08%. Offenders are often charged with DWI if they pass an initial BAC screening, but fail a field sobriety test.

First time offenders can face many possible penalties, including a 60-day license suspension, up to 2 months of prison time and an 8-point penalty on a license. Additional penalties apply if a minor was a passenger in the car at the time of the offense. Second time offenders may face a 120-day license suspension, or up to a year in prison.

Drunk drivers could also incur administrative offenses from the Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) for failing or refusing a chemical sobriety test. DUI and DWI offenders may both opt-in to the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in order to avoid license suspension or revocation. IIDs require that drivers blow into an attached breathalyzer in order for the car’s ignition to function. They must be installed by a dealer or mechanic approved by the MVA. Drivers are solely responsible for the costs of installation and maintenance for these devices.

ENLawyers Bottom Line

This Memorial Day, be mindful of the Maryland underage drinking and drunk driving laws, as the consequences associated can have a significant impact on your future. Influence your friends and loved ones to practice safe drinking behaviors during this celebratory time of the season, such as having a designated driver. If you are arrested for an underage drinking or drunk driving related infraction, contact the defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Eldridge and Nachtman for a free case consultation.