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New DUI Laws and Trends

An experienced Maryland DUI attorney answers questions about general changes in Maryland DUI laws and trends in legal developments. For more information on specific changes to DUI laws in Maryland, follow that link.

How Have DUI Laws In Maryland Changed Recently?

Every year, it gets tougher and tougher to do what I do. The laws tend to become harsher. The precedents coming out of the Court of Special Appeals tend to favor the state rather than the defense bar. Enforcement efforts tend to increase. In the past five to ten years, I’ve seen more DUI checkpoints, more strict enforcement, and the legal limit keeps being reduced.

When DUI Per Se first came out, the legal limit was higher than it is today. There were some jurisdictions that had a legal limit of .2 and there were others that had a legal limit of .15, but every jurisdiction now has a legal limit of .08. The federal government basically tied highway funds to lowering the legal limit down to .08.

When I first started practicing, I was in Colorado and Colorado was one of the few holdout states. Colorado and West Virginia were the two states that kept a legal limit of .10 longer than anyone else, but eventually, the pressure of federal highway funds convinced them that .08 was the right legal limit. All the people who receive some kind of benefit, whether psychological or financial, from having more strict DUI laws, for example the DUI lobbying industry or the ignition interlock providers, have a lot of influence.

Possible Changes in Future DUI Laws

It’s very hard to predict, but I predict ignition interlock devices becoming a requirement for more and more people. Legislators are getting pressured to require an ignition interlock device for every first-offense DUI. I predict mandatory ignition interlocks no matter what an individual’s BAC is or whether it is a first offense or not. I don’t think that is necessary, but will be very lucrative for the ignition interlock providers.

Keeping Up on Current DUI Laws and Trends

I go to continuing legal education very frequently. In the past month, I went to two different continuing education classes. I went to the advanced DUI seminar here in Maryland and I also went to a scientific evidence seminar in New Jersey. Both of them brought in experts from across the country, not just attorneys but also scientific experts, and exposed the attendees to all sorts of new areas of law. I was able to listen to how other lawyers try their cases and picked up tricks.