Maryland Impaired Driving Laws
Effective laws are essential to preventing the tragedies that result from impaired driving. Drivers arrested for impaired driving in Maryland face both immediate Administrative sanctions and additional criminal penalties and license sanctions if the driver is convicted of an impaired driving offense.
New! Important changes to Maryland's drunk driving laws take effect on October 1, 2016, that include increased penalties and expansion of the Ignition Interlock Program. Click here for more information about the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016 (Noah’s Law).
If you are stopped by a police officer and are suspected to be under the influence, the law enforcement officer may request that you to submit to a field sobriety test or portable breath test. If you are arrested for impaired driving, the officer will advise you of your rights and provide you with an Advice of Rights form (DR-15) before requesting that you submit to a chemical blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test.
Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol present in a 100 milliliter (mL) volume of blood. For example 80 mg is 0.08 grams, 0.08 grams of alcohol in 100 mLs is written as 0.08%. In other words, 80 mg% is equal to 0.08% which is equal to 80 mg/dL (deciliter; 100 mLs). This value can also be described as 0.08 BAC.
If you test above the legal limit for alcohol (0.08 BAC), or refuse an officer’s request to submit to a chemical test for alcohol or drug use, you will be issued an Order of Suspension (form #DR-015A) along with your traffic citation(s).
The police officer will confiscate your Maryland driver's license and may issue you a 45-day temporary paper license.
For more information visit, see Alcohol Test Failure or Refusal.
If you were operating a commercial vehicle or are a commercial driver license holder at the time of your stop, you are also subject to the disqualification of your commercial driving status.
For more information about penalties for commercial license drivers and operators of commercial vehicles, also see the Commercial Driver’s License Manual.
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 Administration 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.
For more information, visit Violations of Restrictions
If you are convicted of an impaired driving offense, you face both criminal penalties and license sanctions.
If you are convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI):
- For a first offense, you face up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail. Twelve (12) points will be assessed on your driving record and your license may be revoked for up to six (6) months.
- For a second offense, you face a $2,000 fine and up to two years imprisonment (with a mandatory minimum of five days). Twelve (12) points will be assessed on your license and your license may be revoked for up to one year.
- For two convictions within five years, a mandatory period of suspension will be followed by a minimum required period of participation in the Ignition Interlock Program.
- You may be required to participate in an alcohol abuse assessment and program.
If you are convicted of Driving while Impaired by Alcohol (DWI):
- For a first offense, you face up to a $500 fine and up to two months imprisonment. Eight (8) points will be assessed on your driving record, and you face a 6-month license suspension. If this conviction is the result of a driver under 21, you will face a 1-year suspension.
- For a second DWI offense, you face up to a $500 fine and up to one year imprisonment. Eight (8) points will be assessed on your driving record, and you face a license suspension of 9 to 12 months. If this conviction is the result of a driver under 21, you will face a 2-year suspension.
The penalties are substantially higher if you are transporting a minor at the time of the offense or for a third offense.
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.
You will be required to go to Court for the citation(s) that were issued for an impaired driving offense. If you are found guilty of the violation, a record of the conviction will be posted to your driving record and points will be assessed.
Once the points have been assessed, if you have accumulated between 8 and 11 points within a two year period, your driver’s license will be suspended. For an accumulation of 12 or more points, your license will be revoked. You may request a hearing or, in some cases, be eligible to opt into the Ignition Interlock Program.
For more information visit Suspensions for Point Accumulation
If you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and you have had a prior driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled dangerous substance violation within five years of the date of the violation, your license will be suspended for one year followed by participation in the Ignition Interlock Program for one year. You may, if eligible opt into the Program for one year in lieu of your suspension.
For more information, visit Repeat Offender Violations
Ignition Interlock is a device that is installed in vehicles that prevents drivers from operating the vehicle while impaired by alcohol. The driver must blow into the device and if his or her breath alcohol level exceeds the accepted level set on the device, the vehicle will not start. When installed, interlocks are associated with about a 70% reduction in arrest rates for impaired driving.
The 2011 Drunk Driving Reduction Act, implemented on October 1, 2011 expanded Maryland's Ignition Interlock program by requiring more drivers to participate. Participants in this program must have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in their vehicle, obtain an ignition interlock-restricted license and must successfully complete their assigned period of participation before they may regain full licensure.
For more information, visit Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program.