Underage DUI Laws and Penalties in Maryland

The alcohol consumption restrictions for drivers under 21 years old.

Maryland has laws prohibiting driving under the influence (DUI) as well as driving while impaired (DWI). Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more or while substantially impaired is a DUI violation and driving while impaired to a lesser degree by drugs or alcohol is a DWI violation. But drivers under the age of 21 years old are subject to tighter blood alcohol restrictions. This article explains the applicable under 21 restrictions and the associated penalties.

Underage DUI Laws and What They Prohibit

Technically, Maryland does not have an "underage DUI" law. Instead, all drivers under 21 years old have a restriction placed on their license that prohibits operation with any amount of alcohol in their system. While not called a DUI, violating this license restriction still carries a multitude of penalties.

Penalties for Underage DWI Offenses

Violating the under 21 alcohol restriction will result in a maximum two months in jail and up to $500 in fines. But the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) will also issue penalties.

Suspension. A driver's license restriction violation generally carries a six-month license suspension. Any subsequent restriction violations can result in license revocation. Getting a violation can require the offender to restart the graduated license process and can take years to get back to an unrestricted license. A driver improvement course may also be required.

Ignition interlock device. In order to reinstate the driver's license, the MVA requires the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). The IID must be maintained for six months to three years, depending on the number of prior offenses.

Aggravating Factors

An under 21 license restriction violation carries plenty of penalties, but certain factors can make them much worse.

High BAC. A driver, regardless of age, will face standard DUI penalties for driving with a BAC of .08% or more. A driver under 21 with a BAC over .08% will be charged with both DUI and violating license restrictions and be required to install an IID for three years.

Test refusal. An underage driver arrested for violating restrictions is required to submit to a chemical test to measure the amount of alcohol in his or her system. A driver who refuses a lawful chemical test request will be suspended for 270 days for a first offense and two years for a second offense.

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