Motorists driving under the influence of drugs face serious criminal penalties in Maryland. The use of illegal and legal drugs before driving can have long-term legal consequences.
Motorists may, in addition to drug charges, face a driving under the influence offense under two conditions: if they are found to be driving a vehicle while being impaired by any drug that prevents safe driving; or, if they are found to be driving a vehicle while impaired by any controlled dangerous substance.
Chemical evidence is probative but is not necessary for a DUI conviction. Observation of a motorist’s behavior may be sufficient evidence for prosecution.
Maryland’s Compassionate Use Act allows prosecutors and courts to consider the medical necessity and reduce, but not necessarily dismiss, any penalties for possession and use. This law does not address driving under the influence of medical marijuana, however.
Maryland motorists, by holding a license, have legally consented to take a chemical test if they are stopped on suspicion of driving or attempting to drive under the influence of alcohol, being so far impaired by any drug that they could not drive safely or while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance.
A person may not be forced to take the test unless their driving led to a fatal accident or a life-threatening injury to another person. But their refusal will result in the suspension of their license for up to 45 days.
A first offense within the last five years is a misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence of two months to one year or the imposition of a fine instead of incarceration, fines from $500 to $1,000 and a license suspension of up to 45 days. Offenders also mlly complete a drug-alcohol education program. If a minor was in the vehicle, offenders face up to two years imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.
A second offense within five years is also a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years’ incarceration or by a fine. But there is a mandatory minimum of 48 hours imprisonment. Punishment also includes a fine of up to $2,000, license suspension of up to 90 days and successful completion of a drug alcohol program. If there is a minor in the vehicle, the punishment is up to three years imprisonment and a $3,000 fine.
A third offense within five years is punishable by up to three years imprisonment or a fine, license suspefor nsion up to 18 months, and completion of a drug-alcohol program. The offender may be sentenced to up to four years imprisonment and pay a fine of up to $4,000 if a minor was in the vehicle.
These penalties can have serious legal, financial, and professional consequences. Attorneys can help motorists protect their rights.