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DUI Per se in Maryland: Understanding the Charges and Penalties for Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense in Maryland. When you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol content (blood alcohol content) level. If your blood alcohol content is 0.08 or higher, you may be charged with a DUI per se in Maryland.

What is Maryland DUI Per Se?

A DUI per se means that you are being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol based on your blood alcohol content level. Accoding to Maryland law "Under the influence of alcohol per se" means having an alcohol concentration at the time of testing of 0.08 or more as measured by grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

In Maryland, the legal alcohol limit for blood alcohol or breath alcohol content ("BAC") is 0.08. If you are caught driving with a blood alcohol or breath alcohol content of 0.08 or higher, you can be charged with a DUI per se, even if you are not "drunk" and exhibiting any signs of impairment. Simply said, you do not need to be impaired physically, or "drunk" to be charged with DUI per se.

In these cases, Defendants must've agreed to submit to an intoximeter test, which gave breath alcohol results of a blood alcohol or breath alcohol content over .08, or a blood test which gave similar results.

If your breath sample is under the legal limit it is possible to still have DUI or DWI charges based on evidence of impairment; however, DUI per se cases require a .08 or higher as a matter of law.

It's important we separate the idea of being "drunk" and the act of imapired driving from the breath/blood test results, which is all that matter in this type of case.

How is This Different Than a Regular Impaired Driving?

In Maryland, a regular DUI charge is based on the officer's observations of your driving behavior, your physical characteristics, and your performance on field sobriety tests.

A DUI per se charge is based solely on your blood alcohol or breath alcohol content level when you are driving. This means that you can be convicted of a DUI per se even if you were not driving erratically or exhibiting any signs of impairment - so long as your arrest was legal and there was sufficient alcohol in your system.

Cases with a breath test refusal are more often decided by testimony about a person's performance in field sobriety or their driving before being stopped, whereas a perse case is all about the alcohol in the body.

Is DUI Per Se Worse Than Regular DUI?

A DUI per se charge carries the same penalties as a regular DUI charge in Maryland.

However, a DUI per se charge may be easier for the prosecution to prove since it is based solely on your blood alcohol or breath alcohol content level, without the need for additional evidence of impairment. This law might allow the State to prove an otherwise difficult case.

DUI Per Se in Maryland Maximum Penalty

The maximum penalties for a DUI per se in Maryland are similar to those for DUI. If you are convicted, you may face penalties outlined in the chart below:

Maryland DUI Per Se Penalties Chart

Additional consequences from a DUI per se include:

  1. Driver license suspension
  2. Installation of an ignition interlock device
  3. Increased car insurance rates

The costs of a DUI per se charge often include attorney's fees, court fines, and more. If you were involved in a dui accident, this can also come with additional insurance costs and restitution in Court for the other parties personal injury.

DUI Per se vs DWI - How the Legal Limit Applies

In Maryland, a DUI per se charge is equivalent to a DUI (driving while under the influence) charge under the law, as outlined above. Both charges are based on the driver's blood alcohol or breath alcohol content level.

A DWI or driving while impaired, is a lesser offense under the law that carries a lower maximum penalty and a lower burden of proof for the State. There is no DWI per se charge in Maryland.

If you're curious about the differences between DUI and DWI in Maryland, learn more here.

Breath Alcohol Technician

In order to prove a DUI per se charge in Maryland, the prosecution will likely rely on evidence from the breathalyzer test. The test is administered by a breath technician, who is responsible for ensuring that the machine is properly calibrated and that the test is conducted correctly under Maryland law.

Breath technicians can be challenged by a dui attorney, as can the accuracy of the machines that they base their findings from. It's also important to note that these devices cannot detect controlled dangerous substances, only alcohol.

Intoximeter Machine

The breathalyzer test is conducted using an intoximeter machine. The machine measures the amount of alcohol in your breath and converts it to a blood alcohol or breath alcohol content level. The accuracy of the test depends on the calibration of the machine and the expertise of the breath technician.

DUI Blood Test

In cases involving DUI Accidents often involve blood testing or blood alcohol results in medical records. These cases can also give rise to DUI Per Se charges, which are subject to defenses including improper blood draws from a State regulated blood test, or blood alcohol testing procedures.

How Do I Beat a DUI Per Se?

Challenging a DUI per se charge can be difficult, but not impossible. There are a number of defenses that may be used to challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer test, including:

  • The machine was not properly calibrated
  • The breath technician was not properly trained
  • There was a deviation from standard testing procedures
  • The results were affected by outside factors, such as mouthwash or medication

These defenses may defeat the per se charge but aren't a total defense to a DWI or DUI based on other signs of impairment.

Further, the State must prove that there existed valid probable cause for the detention and arrest of any Defendant. An experienced DUI lawyer may be able to challenge the stop of your vehicle.

Maryland criminal laws aren't simple, so even if its your first dui, it's important to have a maryland criminal lawyer in your corner.

Can I avoid a conviction even if I was over .08?

It is always possible to avoid a DUI conviction in Maryland. Many Judges will consider awarding a probation before judgment for first time It is always possible to avoid a DUI conviction in Maryland. Many Judges will consider awarding a probation before judgment for first time offenders who take proper mitigating steps.

Bear in mind that a PBJ is a privilege and not a right.

Subsequent offenders may not be entitled to ask for a PBJ disposition. Those who produce a high breath sample in a DUI could also be denied a PBJ on that basis.

Do I need a DUI lawyer?

If you have been charged with a DUI per se or any other DUI/DWI offense in Maryland, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney.

DUI charges carry severe penalties, and a conviction can have long-lasting consequences on your personal and professional life. A skilled attorney can help you understand your legal options and develop a defense strategy tailored to your specific case based on the information provided to you. They can also represent you in court and negotiate with the prosecution on your behalf.

Whether you want a bench trial, or a jury trial for your DUI, an attorney is a must for every criminal case.

Will my license be suspended?

If you received a DUI per se charge and you have a Maryland License at the time, your license was likely confiscated and you were issued a DR-15A Order of Suspension. This form will contain all of the information your attorney needs to advise you on possible license sanctions. You are able to request a hearing on your suspension and may be able to avoid license suspension or partake in the interlock program. Your driver license could be in jeopardy from an imapired driving charge alone.

If you have an out of state license and a DUI in Maryland, then the circumstances depend on your home's state interpretation of a Maryland based suspension. As a rule of thumb, Maryland typically only has the authority to suspend and out of state driver's in state driving privileges. An out of State driver may be able to request modifications of the terms of their Maryland based suspension.

Ignition Interlock - Alcohol Detection in Motor Vehicles

If you're charged with a Maryland DUI Per Se - you will need to comply with a MVA suspension of your license. Depending on how high your breath sample is you may need to install an ignition interlock in your motor vehicle and participate in the program through the MVA.

The breath result can be challenged in Court; however, the MVA applies a lower standard to suspending your license when you receive a DUI.

Fight your DUI today

If you have been charged with a DUI per se or any other traffic offense in Maryland, don't wait to seek legal representation.

Whether it's your first DUI or your fourth DUI, the attorneys with FrizWoods can help!

Contact FrizWoods today to schedule a consultation with an experienced DUI defense attorney. We understand the serious nature of these charges and will work tirelessly to protect your rights and defend your freedom. If you're wondering what to do after a DUI, we have the answers.