Maryland Drug DUI Lawyer
There are four or five different versions of DUI violations of Maryland Transportation Article 21902. 21902 A1, A2, and B1 are all alcohol-related. A1 is DUI drunk driving, B1 is DWI drunk driving, and A2 is driving with a .08 or higher breath alcohol content. There are also two less frequently charged offenses that are drug offenses, 21902 C1 and D1. It is important to understand the relationship between these charges and drug DUI stops in Maryland. Here is information on building a defense in drug DUI cases.
Prescription Drug DWIs: 21-902(C)
The C offense is driving while impaired by a controlled substance and alcohol, which could be prescription drugs. If you’re taking a prescribed drug, like Ambien, by itself or in conjunction with alcohol, that could impair your ability to drive. There are blood tests that are admissible, but there is no equivalent of a DUI per se, meaning that it is illegal to drive with a .08 or higher and it doesn’t matter what your level of impairment is, but the C charge is about your individual level of impairment.
There is no amount of a specified prescription that triggers the C offense; it’s about how it affects you and what your level of impairment is.
Illegal Drugs DWI: 21-902(D)
The 21902 D1 offense is for a controlled dangerous substance. That is something that is not prescribed to you, like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or anything where you would get a possession charge going along with it. If the police pull you over and you just got done smoking marijuana in your car, they’re probably going to charge you with a 21902 D. Those are occasionally also charged in DUI cases with just alcohol when an individual refuses to do the breath test. Particularly here in Howard County, they like to write the C and the D whenever anyone refuses to do a breath test.
Maryland Drug DUI Enforcement
There are two possible scenarios. First, if an individual gets pulled over for DUI and they do the breath test, the officer is probably going to write them three DUI tickets: 21902 A1, DUI, 21902 A2, DUI per se, because of their .08 or higher breath alcohol content, and 21902 D, which is impaired driving. Second, if an individual refuses to blow, then the officer is probably going to write them four versions of DUI: 21902 A1 and B1 for DUI and DWI, and 21902 C1 and D1 under the theory that they don’t know what was affecting your driving because you didn’t blow, so it could have been alcohol, alcohol and prescription drugs, or a controlled dangerous substance.
They won’t write the A2 because they don’t have a breath alcohol content to prove that it was .08 or higher. The only time the prosecution tries to prove those is when there is a legitimate issue, for example, if the officer confiscates a bunch of prescription pills or the alleged DUI driver admits to consuming prescription drugs or a controlled dangerous substance. In a typical DUI alcohol case, the officer may write the C and the D, but the state knows they can’t prove it, so they drop it in court.
How Officers Choose to Charge Drug DWI
The primary circumstance in which an individual is charged with driving under the influence of drugs comes after they’ve already been arrested and asked to give a breath test. If they give a breath test and that breath test comes back 0.00, showing no alcohol in their system whatsoever, officers will frequently charge the 21-902(c) and (d) offenses, which are the two driving under the influence of drug offenses.
In some jurisdictions, if an individual refuses to do a breath test, the officer will often write the 21-902(c) and (d) offenses, the two drug offenses, under the theory that without a breath test, they can’t know if you are drunk or high at the time of the incident.
Then there are obvious C and D cases, where the individual is pulled over and the car is filled with a cloud of marijuana smoke, for example. If they just got done smoking and they tell the officer that, then the officer will almost certainly write them the 21-902(d), which is for controlled dangerous substance. Similarly, if an individual is pulled over with an open pill container of prescription medication and they tell the officer that they just took a bunch of it, they can expect a 21-902(c) charge, which is driving under the influence of prescription medication.
Most Common Drugs in Maryland DUI Cases
The vast majority, probably 95 percent and even higher, is alcohol. Then there are prescription drugs, like Ambien or Valium. Sometimes there are psych meds, although not frequently. In terms of illegal drugs, you see a reasonable amount of marijuana. You see less heroin and cocaine just because fewer people in the population use it. I probably only see a couple pure DUI drug cases a year.
Drug and Alcohol Interactions
Absolutely. The 21902 C addresses a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs. They can prove that with no alcohol involved, or they can prove it with a little bit of alcohol and a little bit of prescription drugs. There are situations where an individual blows a .03 or .04, but the officer believes they can make the case with a little bit of alcohol and a lot of prescription drugs, or the interaction between the two. If you’re on prescription drugs, even one glass of wine could put you in a DUI situation.
If there is sufficient alcohol in the blood stream for the breath alcohol content to be .08 or higher, the state is not going to worry about the C or the D offense, they are just going to go forward on the DUI per se. If, for some reason, the breath test is either below a .08, or there is no breath test at all, then the state will worry about the drug charge.