Maryland DUI Misdemeanor
Although driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in any condition, the severity of the charge can vary greatly from one circumstance to another. State law, along with factors such as the driver’s prior record, will determine whether an offense is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony DUI. Like most states, the majority of drivers who are arrested in Maryland are charged with a misdemeanor offense. However, even a Maryland DUI misdemeanor carries a number of hefty penalties.
Assuming you are a first-time offender and were not involved in an accident, your DUI will most likely be considered a misdemeanor offense. If you are found guilty of the charge, the court may fine you up to $1,000, revoke your driving privileges for 45 days or longer, and order you to spend as much as a year behind bars.
On the other hand, if you have been convicted of driving under the influence within the past five years, you can expect to receive a much harsher sentence than a first-time offender. Additional penalties may also be applied if you are charged with refusing to perform a breathalyzer or other chemical test. In fact, under the state’s Implied Consent Law, the punishment for refusing the test is often more severe than for failing.
As a less serious offense, a driver charged with misdemeanor DUI has a much better chance of getting his or her charges reduced. In some cases, for example, the judge may waive certain penalties if the driver agrees to undergo treatment for substance abuse and/or install an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle—a device that requires the driver to perform a breathalyzer anytime he or she gets behind the wheel.
Despite being a less serious charge than a felony, a misdemeanor drunk driving conviction can leave a huge impact on you in the long run. Once you’ve completed the terms of your sentence, for instance, you could face higher insurance rates as well as limited employment and/or housing opportunities. In light of these consequences, the best thing you can do is simply avoid being found guilty of the charge in court—but in order to do that, you must have professional legal counsel.