There are many things that may affect you if you are stopped and suspected of or charged with an alcohol offense. Some of these may apply.
Underage Drinking and Driving
If you are under the age of 18, you are considered a minor, and if you are under the age of 21, you are “under-age”
Maryland has a high concentration of colleges and universities, and as a result, a large population of teens and young adults. The state’s proximity to Washington, D.C., in addition, makes it a desirable location for young professionals beginning their professional careers. It should come as no surprise then that Maryland law enforcement officers frequently come into contact with underage drinking and drunk driving.
When the consumption of alcohol is involved, however, social expectations do not always translate to compliance with state or federal law. If a party involving underage drinking is held in a home in Maryland, the homeowner could face serious penalties, including jail, even if the homeowner is absent at the time. Consequences may be far more serious for the underage drinkers themselves, who are at risk of injury or death from binge drinking, drunk driving or simply from being the passenger in the car of a drunk driver.
A minor who is caught driving drunk could face up to a year in jail, depending on the severity of the offense. Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are the two possible offenses a driver could face with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or higher. Penalties for both offenses increase in severity in relation to the frequency of alcohol- related driving offenses.
Additional penalties apply if a minor was a passenger in the car at the time of the offense. Second time offenders may face a 120-day license suspension, or up to a year in prison.
Alcohol education should not begin only after a drunk driver’s first alcohol-related offense. Parents in particular are urged to create change within their communities to influence more frequent discussions of alcohol’s risks with their teens. Parents who maintain a casual attitude towards underage drinking all too often unknowingly contribute to the growing numbers of injuries or deaths as the result of irresponsible or illegal drinking.
Drunk drivers could also incur administrative offenses from the Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) for failing or refusing a chemical sobriety test. DUI and DWI offenders may both opt-in to the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in order to avoid license suspension or revocation. IIDs require that drivers blow into an attached breathalyzer in order for the car’s ignition to function. They must be installed by a dealer or mechanic approved by the MVA. Drivers are solely responsible for the costs of installation and maintenance for these devices.
Underage Drinking and Fake ID Laws
ALEX AND CALVIN’S LAW–Parents Beware
- If you are under the age of 21 and found to have purchased, possessed or consumed alcohol, you face a fine of $500 for your first offense and $1,000 for your second or subsequent offense.
- Anyone under 21 who violates their alcohol restriction must automatically participate in the ignition interlock program or face suspension. If assignment to interlock is for a second alcohol violation in 5 years, the duration of participation in the ignition interlock program is determined by how many times they have been assigned to interlock due to one of these violations.
- If you are under 21 and in possession of a fake ID, you face a fine of up to $500 and up to 2 months in prison. Twelve (12) points will be assessed on your driving record, and your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked.
- If you are caught selling fake IDs, you face fines of up to $2000 and up to two years in prison for each fake ID sold. You are also subject to prosecution for violating federal and homeland security laws.
- If you are over 21 and knowingly furnish alcohol to a minor, you face a fine of up to $2500 for the first violation and a fine of up to $5000 for a second or subsequent violation.
The Maryland General Assembly passed a second bill that addresses alcohol crimes. Alex and Calvin’s Law gives judges the discretion to put parents who host underage drinking parties in jail. The legislation is named after two 18-year-olds who lost their lives last year, after they got in a car with an intoxicated driver leaving an underage drinking party hosted by an adult. The parent, who hosted the party and provided alcohol to underage drinkers, only paid a fine of $5,000 following the death of Alex and Calvin as previous legislation detailed that the maximum punishment for this offense was a $2500 fine per citation.
Under the new legislation, a person who provides alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age of 21 can be incarcerated for up to one year and/or pay a fine of up to $5,000 for the first offense.
A second or subsequent offense would lead to incarceration for up to two years and/or a fine of up to $7,500.
Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program for Drunk Drivers
One of the most notable changes to Maryland’s impaired driving laws is the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016, commonly known as Noah’s Law. Noah’s Law went into effect on October 1, 2016, and expands the use of ignition interlock devices.
The law will require mandatory participation in the Ignition Interlock System Program for drivers who:
- Are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, while impaired by alcohol, or while impaired by drugs (including first-time offenders)
- Have had their licenses suspended by the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) for a drunk driving offense
- Are convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol
Offenders must have breath-analyzing devices installed in their vehicles for one year or longer, depending on the length of time between offenses. In addition, drunk drivers whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) registers between 0.08 and 0.14 percent may opt-in to the program for one year instead of losing their licenses.
Reinstatement of a Revoked Driver’s License
If your driver’s license was revoked because you accumulated 12 or more points on your driving record, or because you violated an alcohol restriction, you may be eligible to have your license reinstated after a specified period of time.
The minimum amount of time you must wait before requesting reinstatement of your license after it was revoked depends upon the number of times you have had your Maryland driver’s license revoked:
- One revocation- 6 month waiting period
- Two revocations- 12 month waiting period
- Three revocations- 18 month waiting period
- Four or more revocations- 24 month waiting period
The waiting period starts on the day that you turn in your driver’s license after it has been revoked, or the date of revocation, whichever is later. You must turn in your most recently issued license.
What do I need to do?
If you believe that you meet the criteria to reinstate your license, you may call or visit the MVA’s Driver Wellness and Safety Division request to have your driver’s license reinstated. You will be asked for your full name, address, date of birth and driver’s license number, if you know it.
The MVA will review your driving record for insurance violations, child support violations and any other problems that may disqualify you from reinstatement. If we discover a problem in your driving record, we will send you a letter explaining why you are not eligible for reinstatement. If there are no apparent problems, we will mail or hand to you an application form.
After you have completed the application for driver’s license reinstatement, return it to the Driver’s Wellness and Safety Division along with the appropriate application fee. Upon receipt of the application and fee, there will be a final ruling on the reinstatement of your driver’s license and you will be sent a letter either granting or denying reinstatement. If you are granted reinstatement of your driver’s license, take the letter to any full service MVA branch and apply for a new license. You may be required to take the law, vision and/or driving skills tests again. In addition, you will be subject to all MVA eligibility requirements.
If the reinstatement of your driver’s license is denied, you do have the right to appeal the decision of the MVA to the office of administrative hearings. Contact the MVA’s Driver Wellness and Safety Division for details about the appeal process.
Violations of License Restrictions
An alcohol restriction on your license prohibits you from operating a vehicle with any level of alcohol in your blood. If you are under the age of 21, your license automatically carries “Under 21 Alcohol Restriction.”
If you have a prior impaired driving offense, your license may carry an alcohol restriction on it that was placed there by the MVA or the Courts.
An alcohol restriction on your license also mandates that you submit to a chemical test when an officer suspects that you may be driving under the influence. If you refuse the test, or test positive for any level of alcohol, then you will be subject to additional sanctions.
Tips If You Get Pulled Over
- Think fast, but remain calm. Quickly evaluate how much you have had to drink. Try to keep your hands in view at all times, as the officer may view your movements as a safety risk.
- Be polite to police officers. You gain nothing by being rude and belligerent.
- Obey the police officers’ commands. Officers may order you to get out of the car, and refusing to do so can get you arrested. You are required by law to produce your license and registration.
- Know where you can easily find your license and registration. Fumbling for these things is often viewed as signs of impairment. Several people I know keep the insurance and registration in a separate glove-box wallet for quick and easy access.
- You do not have to say anything, including talk, beyond license, registration, and insurance. Don’t incriminate yourself.