Driving Under the Influence of Drugs in Maryland

What is considered drugged driving in Maryland and the related penalties.

Impaired driving—no matter the type of impairing substance—is illegal in Maryland. But the conduct that can lead to a drug DUI conviction and the penalties resulting from a conviction can vary based on the type of substance and whether the driver has a valid prescription. This article will explain in detail the different criminal charges and penalties that can result from driving under the influence of different drugs.

Types of Impairment

Maryland's drugged driving laws are separated into two main types: DUIDs (driving under the influence of drugs) and DWIDs (driving while impaired by drugs).

Driving under the influence. You can be convicted of driving under the influence (DUID) of drugs or other substances when you are so impaired that you cannot safely drive a vehicle. The fact that the driver was legally entitled to use the drug (because of a prescription or otherwise) is not a defense to DUID charges. Also, any intoxicating substance can lead to a DUID conviction.

Driving while impaired. The level of impairment the prosecution must prove to get a DWID conviction is a lower evidentiary standard than that for a DUID. A DWID only requires proof that the driver's normal coordination was impaired to some extent. But a driver can be convicted of a DWID only if he or she ingested illegal drugs classified as controlled substances. This list of substances includes marijuana, prescription pain killers, and many street drugs. Unlike with a DUID charge, a valid prescription is a legal defense to a DWID charge.

Criminal Penalties

The penalties for a DWID conviction generally depend on the number of prior convictions the offender has that occurred within the preceding five years.

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

DUID convictions generally carry the following penalties.

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

In either case, the court has the option of placing the offender on probation. A probation sentence can result in less jail time, but the offender will have to abide by certain conditions such as substance abuse treatment and drug testing.

Driver's License Consequences

All drugged driving convictions come with license penalties, but certain factors can increase or decrease these consequences.

Implied consent and unlawful refusals. Drivers who are lawfully arrested for impaired driving are required by law to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. An unlawful refusal will result in a license suspension of 270 days for a first offense and two years for a second offense. This suspension will be in addition to a suspension period resulting from a criminal conviction.

Hardship licenses. A suspended driver may be able to obtain a restricted license by installing an ignition interlock device (IID). The restricted license allows for limited driving privileges during the suspension period. In some cases, successful participation in the restricted license program can allow for early license reinstatement.

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