As an attorney dedicating substantial time to the field of Maryland DUI law, specifically Howard County DUI law, I remain shocked at the number of my clients who come to me completely uninformed on the laws pertaining to alcohol usage while driving. In fact, the most common rationale for why my clients have ended up charged is, “I waited an hour after my last drink and I felt fine.” This brief article will serve to inform the masses that Maryland is essentially a zero tolerance state.
First, it is essential to understand that it is not only illegal in MD to drive with above a .08 (driving under the influence), but also illegal and jailable to drive with .06 breath level (driving while impaired). For many people, a .06 blood alcohol level can be reached after a single beer, shot, or glass of wine. Contrary to popular belief, the proverbial one-hour waiting period is simply not enough. Blood alcohol absorption can be affected by the sex of a drinker, the body fat percentage of the drinker, the size and weight of the drinker, the amount of food in the body, the food in ones system, etc. This brings me back to my zero tolerance contention – if a single beer can cause one to be charged with DWI, the general population should be advised that NO DRINKING is tolerable before driving; i.e., zero tolerance. Well why aren’t they then? In my opinion, the answer is simple – DUI litigation simply brings too much money to the state. Allow me to expand:
A large portion of my clients are law abiding citizens who thought it was legal to go out and have a glass of wine or a few beers and drive home. Had they been advised that even a single drink could be illegal they never ever would have attempted to drive. The legislature has drafted a statute that gives people the false sense that some alcohol before driving is legal. This false sense contributes to a large number of first time dui offenses in Maryland and Howard County. Why else, besides to trap otherwise law-abiding citizens and raise revenue, would the legislature make illegal small amounts of alcohol instead of none at all?
To rehash my theory, if the average law abiding citizen was advised that NO ALCOHOL was legal when behind the wheel they would simply have nothing to drink before driving – significantly reducing the amount of dui related incidents. On the other hand, Maryland residents are lead to believe that some alcohol behind the wheel is legal. The legislature is giving people enough rope to hang themselves and essentially asking them to determine if their intoxicated when their intoxicated – this is absurd! This article serves as my warning that drinking before driving in Maryland, even in minute amounts, can lead to a serious jailable charge of driving while impaired or driving under the influence. To avoid serious charges, no alcohol should be consumed before driving, thus, keeping drivers safe, and in turn hampering the influx of revenue attained from uninformed drivers being arrested and charged with clearly avoidable conduct.