Maryland Drunk and Drugged Driving Laws and Penalties

Learn about the penalties for first, second, and third DUI/DWI in Maryland.

Maryland has a number of intoxicated driving classifications. But they can be separated into two main types: DUIs (driving under the influence) and DWIs (driving while impaired).

Driving under the influence. A person can be convicted of a DUI for driving or attempting to drive while impaired to a substantial extent by alcohol or a controlled substance or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08%. All drivers are affected differently, but you can get a general idea of how many drinks it takes by looking at a BAC table or using a BAC calculator.

Driving while impaired. The level of impairment the prosecution must prove to get a DWI conviction is lower evidentiary than that for a DUI. A DWI only requires proof that the driver’s normal coordination was impaired to some extent by alcohol or drugs.

Maryland DUI and DWI Penalties

The penalties for a DUI or DWI conviction depend on the number of prior offenses in the last ten years and the circumstances of the incident.

DUI Convictions

Generally, the possible penalties for a DUI conviction are as follows.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

Up to 1 year

Up to 2 years

Up to 5 years

Fines

Up to $1,000

Up to $2,000

Up to $5,000

License Suspension

Up to 6 months

Up to 9 months

Up to 12 months

Having a passenger under 18 years old at the time of a DUI offense can add up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail to the existing penalties.

For purposes of determining the license suspension period, only prior offenses within the last five years are counted.

DWI Convictions

The penalties for a DWI—the less serious of the two offenses—are generally as follows.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

Up to 2 months

Up to 1 year

Up to 5 years

Fines

Up to $500

Up to $500

Up to $5,000

License Suspension

Up to 6 months

Up to 9 months

Up to 12 months

An impaired driver who was transporting a minor passenger will face a maximum of one year in jail and $1,000 in fines for a first offense and a maximum of two years in jail and $2,000 fine for a second offense.

As with DUI offenses, for purposes of determining the length of the suspension for a DWI conviction, only prior offenses within the last five years are counted.

Implied Consent Suspensions

Maryland’s implied consent law states all drivers are deemed to have impliedly consented to a test of their breath or blood. If the driver fails or refuses a test, the officer is supposed to seize the driver’s license (who is prohibited from driving for 12 hours after arrest), issue a temporary license, and submit the results to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).

Suspension Periods

Test failures. A driver with a BAC of at least .08% faces a 180-day suspension, regardless of the number of prior offenses.

High BAC. A driver with a BAC of .15% or more faces a 180-day suspension on a first offense and 270-day suspension for a second or subsequent violation.

Refusal. A driver who refuses testing will be suspended for 270 days. A driver who refuses testing and has a prior violation will be suspended for two years.

Contesting a Suspension

A driver can contest an implied consent suspension by filing a request for hearing within ten days of the suspension notice.

Ignition Interlock Program and Hardship Licenses

Maryland’s ignition interlock program allows participants to drive during their suspension. The ignition interlock program is mandatory for offenders who are convicted of:

  • an alcohol-related DUI
  • any intoxicated driving conviction with a passenger under 16 years old
  • any intoxicated driving conviction if the driver was under 21 years old, and
  • an alcohol-related DWI if the driver has a prior DWI/DUI that occurred within the last five years.

For these offenses, the IID program is generally six months for a first offense, one year for a second offense, and three years for a third offense. (A driver who’s under the age of 21 may be required to hold an IID for up to three years.) However, successful completion of the IID program can result in the early reinstatement of the driver’s license.

Drivers who are suspended due to an intoxicated driving incident but aren’t required to participate in the ignition interlock program can opt to voluntarily apply to the program. If accepted, the driver will be permitted to drive with the use of an IID and will be eligible for early reinstatement after completing:

  • 180 days with an IID if the DUI/DWI involved a BAC of .08% to .14%
  • one year with an IID if the DUI/DWI involved a BAC of .15% or more, or
  • one year with an IID if the driver refused a chemical test.

A suspended motorist can also apply for a hardship license—which allows driving with some restrictions—if his or her BAC was under .15% BAC.

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