DUI Repeat Offenders More Likely to Face Prison Time

The reasons behind a DUI charge can vary from an incorrectly calibrated breathalyzer machine to poor judgment before getting behind the wheel. One thing is certain, though: regardless of the reason for the charge itself, the consequences are very serious.

Those charged with a DUI can have their driving privileges revoked, be forced to attend alcohol education courses, face substance abuse treatment, pay substantial fines and deal with the reality of time behind bars. These penalties increase if the driver is a repeat offender. As a result, it is important not to treat repeat or felony DUI charges lightly.

Background on DUI Penalties

Many states have significantly more serious penalties for repeat DUI charges because of the high toll that DUI has on the drunk driver him or herself and others on the roadway. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for Americans ages 2 to 34, with alcohol being a factor in almost half of all fatal motor vehicle collisions.

A DUI or DWI conviction has two parts: the criminal aspect, which deals with jail time, community service and any relevant fines, and the administrative, which concerns the driver’s license. A first DUI offense does not have mandatory jail time associated with it in Maryland, and fines typically do not top $1,000. However, the driver’s license can be suspended. The penalties are much larger for a repeat offense, however, and can result in time behind bars, fines of up to $4,000, and a possible revocation of the license. The rationale behind these severe penalties is to deter future offenses.

In addition, the NHTSA requires states to implement laws increasing the penalties for multiple alcohol-related offenses. If states do not follow this directive, they will lose federal funding designed to aid highway construction funds; similar federal government pressure drove states to raise the minimum drinking age to 21 back in the 1980s. This is one of many reasons that Maryland has implemented these laws.

To comply with the Repeat Intoxicated Driver Laws program, Maryland must require the following for repeat DUI offenders:

  • One-year driver’s license suspension
  • Impoundment or immobilization of vehicle or installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Require at least five days of imprisonment or 30 days of community services for second offense
  • Require at least 10 days of imprisonment or 60 days of community services for third or subsequent offense

Maryland defines a “repeat offender” as anyone who receives more than one DUI/DWI violation. For the criminal portion of the offense, a subsequent DWI offender can receive up to one year in jail, instead of the 60-day sentence for a first offense. If it’s a DUI, the repeat offender can receive a two-year sentence.

A second DWI offense results in eight points on a Maryland driver’s license. At eight points, the license can be suspended or the alleged offender can enter the Ignition Interlock program for one year. The repercussions of a second DUI are 12 points on the driver’s license, which can lead to a revocation. The driver can also enter the Ignition Interlock program for a period of one year to fight a revocation.

An Ignition Interlock device requires the driver to provide a breath sample before the car will turn on, and only allows the vehicle to start if the driver’s blood alcohol content is below a preordained setting on the device.

The costs for the device are the responsibility of the driver. Installation can cost $200 and the monthly rental fee can run as high as $100. Additionally, maintenance fees and fees to download data can be applied, making the price even higher.

The severity of penalties requires experienced representation to provide a strong defense to the allegations. If you or a loved one is facing a repeat offense violation, it is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced DUI attorney to help protect your legal rights.

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