Halloween: Dressing Up, Drinking and Driving, DUI?

Hallow’s Eve – a night of ghouls, demons and debauchery; but drinking and driving can turn your treating to tricking fast.  In Maryland drinking and driving can result in serious consequences, such as a DUI or DWI. On a pedestrian heavy night like Halloween, drunk driving can be potentially fatal for many trick-or-treaters and result in vehicular manslaughter charges.

Many people do not realize that there are two separate charges regarding Maryland drinking and driving laws which result in different legal consequences.  If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or .09, you will be charged with Driving While Impaired by Alcohol (Ann. Code Of MD., Transportation, Section 902 (b)). The more serious offense is Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol (Ann. Code Of MD., Transportation, Section 902(a) ), and it is typically levied against offenders who have a .10 BAC or higher.   These 2 separate charges are often referred to as DWI or DUI.  Height, weight, age, and gender determine how fast our bodies metabolize alcohol.  You should understand, though, if you are a regular drinker, your body can develop tolerance to alcohol.  You may feel absolutely fine, but your blood alcohol level may well exceed acceptable limits.  Your tolerance has no bearing whatsoever on the BAC.

Qualified Officers measure your BAC by administering a breathalyzer (this is not a roadside handheld breathalyzer test which is completely different).   Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer may well result in consequences. In Maryland, you have the right to consult with an attorney whether to submit to a breathalyzer as long as it does not delay the testing process which must be administered within two hours of apprehension.  You have, as a condition of your privilege to drive, already agreed (your consent is implied) to submit to a breathalyzer if there are reasonable grounds to believe you have been drinking and your ability to operate a vehicle has been impaired. Failure to do so will automatically result in a suspension of your license.  You cannot be compelled to submit to a test, and it may be in your best interest not to do so.  Circumstances vary.

The level at which you are intoxicated has legal ramifications. The maximum penalties for Driving While Under the Influence are 1 year and $1000 for the first offense, 2 years and $2000 for a second such offense, and 3 years and $3000 for a third offense. The MVA also imposes such offenders with 12 points on their driving record and their license may be revoked.

Although a lesser offense, a Driving While Impaired is still serious. The charges for a first offense are a maximum 60 days incarceration and/or $500 fine, 8 points on your driving record and suspension of your driving privilege.  The second offense results in a maximum of 1 year incarceration and/or $500 fine and revocation of your driving privilege

Drunk Drivers, not poisoned candy, pose the biggest threat to trick-or-treaters.  Vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter charges in Maryland are very serious.  As a felony, vehicular manslaughter offenders can face up to 15 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $5,000.  Vehicular manslaughter offenders can expect to face an additional three to five years in prison if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the accident occurred.

Don’t let a drinking violation turn you into a real zombie this Halloween.  Celebrate safely by calling a cab, having a designated driver, or bringing a sleeping bag and air mattress to a friend’s party.

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