Maryland DUI Per Se
As a driver, you undoubtedly know that it is against the law to operate a vehicle if you are under the influence of alcohol. Research suggests that a person’s ability to drive becomes impaired once the amount of alcohol in his or her bloodstream reaches 0.08% or more—a percentage known as blood alcohol content, or BAC. Like most states, Maryland lawmakers have enacted strict “per se” laws to limit the amount of alcohol a driver can have in his or her system. Here’s what you need to know about Maryland DUI per se laws.
Latin for “in itself,” per se laws make it illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with an illegal blood alcohol content. In other words, even if your ability to drive is not impaired, you can still be arrested for drunk driving simply because you have a BAC above the 0.08% limit.
To determine a driver’s blood alcohol content, a breathalyzer or other chemical test must be administered by a qualified member of law enforcement. However, before the test can be administered, the officer must establish probable cause for his or her actions.
First and foremost, the officer must prove he or she had a reason for stopping you—such as speeding or running a red light, for example. Next, the officer must show he or she saw something that led him or her to believe you were under the influence of alcohol—such as smelling alcohol on your breath or noticing an open container of alcohol in your vehicle. If both of these requirements are not met, your test results may be inadmissible in court.
The penalties for violating Maryland’s per se DUI vary based on your prior criminal record. However, a first DUI conviction carries a minimum 45-day license suspension and up to a $1,000 fine and/or one-year jail sentence.
Although the thought of facing a judge in DUI court is scary, you don’t have to do it alone. An experienced drunk driving defense attorney will protect your rights and provide ongoing legal support. And, along with ensuring the charges against you are warranted, your attorney will review the circumstances of your arrest to determine the best approach for your defense.