Maryland Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
You probably know that it is against the law to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). However, if you’re like most drivers, you may not realize just what qualifies as a drug in the eyes of the law. In Maryland, for example, any substance that could potentially affect a person’s ability to drive is considered a drug—whether it’s an illegal substance, a prescription medication, or an over-the-counter drug. Due to this rather broad definition, it is often left solely to law enforcement to determine whether a driver should be charged with a Maryland driving under the influence of drugs offense. Unfortunately, that means many of the arrests officers make are unwarranted.
Of the many personal rights granted by our Constitution, one of the most important is a protection from unreasonable search and seizure. Under this stipulation, law enforcement must have sufficient cause to detain a driver—which means an officer can only pull you over if you have broken the law in some way (such as speeding or running a red light, for example).
Assuming the officer has legal grounds to stop your vehicle, he or she must then meet a second probable cause requirement. This time, the officer must prove he or she had sufficient reason to suspect you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If there was no valid reason for this suspicion, then the officer cannot legally ask you to perform a breathalyzer or other chemical test.
Only after both of the above requirements are met can the officer request chemical testing to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). While the state’s BAC guidelines are pretty clear when it comes to alcohol (a percentage of 0.08 or more is grounds for an arrest), they’re a little less cut and dry when drugs are suspected.
In most cases, a blood or urine test will be used to detect drugs in your bloodstream. Because there is no way to measure the exact amount the test finds, it is ultimately left up to law enforcement to decide whether you should be charged with driving under the influence of drugs.
If you are charged with DUI, you will face a number of harsh penalties—including a fine, license suspension, and jail sentence. However, if you can successfully challenge your arrest in DUI court, you may be able to significantly reduce these consequences.
Bruce Robinson is available 24/7 to answer your questions about Maryland drunk driving laws. Call him at 443-524-7395, or submit a no-obligation case evaluation to download a free digital copy of The Maryland DUI Fact Book.