How Does Maryland Treat Underage DUIs?

How Maryland prosecutors and judges treat cases of underage DUI changes on a case by case basis. Some prosecutors and some judges will treat it more seriously, but more seriously doesn’t mean significantly differently. It means that there is a higher probability of supervised versus unsupervised probation.

Most people under 21 who are convicted of DUI will get some period of supervised probation because the court is concerned about the fact that they are not even legally allowed to drink and they were out drinking and driving. Usually, fine amounts are pretty consistent between kids and adults.

If it’s a first offense, there is usually not a significant period of incarceration. Some prosecutors will take it more seriously and will be less likely to make a better plea offer. For example, if an adult blows a .09 BAC, the state will usually still offer the impaired charge, the lesser offense. If someone under 21 blows a .09 BAC, they are much more likely to seek the DUI Per Se, the more significant offense.

Sentencing for Underage DUIs

Judges may sentence underage drivers a little bit more harshly. That difference would be between supervised and unsupervised probation. The variation between judges is also an important factor. Two different judges could sentence people very differently, so that makes more of a difference than how the judge is going to sentence an adult versus someone under 21.

Penalties for Underage DUIs

The maximum penalties are exactly the same as for someone over 21. The maximum penalty for the more serious DUI charge is one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, and 12 points on their driver’s license. The maximum penalty for DWI is 60 days incarceration, a $500 fine, and eight points on their driver’s license. However, the sentences that people actually receive don’t usually line up with those maximums. First offenders usually don’t get any incarceration, their fine is usually under $500, and they usually don’t get any points on their license.

Consequences for Driving Privileges

For Those Under 21

The driver’s license is where the big penalty is for the under-21s. Over the past couple of years there have been statutory changes that have increased the penalty for people under 21 who are convicted of DUI or who violate their license restriction.

It used to be that someone could modify a license suspension and get the same work permit that someone over 21 could get. What legislators have done recently is decided that the only modification that someone under 21 can do is have an ignition interlock device for six months. Instead of getting a 45-day work permit for an individual who blew between .08 and .14, now the only kind of modified license they can get is one that requires them put the ignition interlock in their vehicle.

The penalties for violating a license restriction, the maximum suspension is a year so in addition to whatever penalties they would have gotten if they had been an adult when they got the offense, they will also be facing up to an additional year without driving or six months with interlock.

The administrative penalty for the refusal is exactly the same; 120 days of no driving or one year with ignition interlock. However, in addition to that, they will face a violation of the license restriction and the penalty for that is either six months with ignition interlock or one year of no driving.

For Those Over 21

The penalties depend on whether they blew into the Breathalyzer and what their BAC was. An adult who blows under .15 but over .08 is facing a ET 45-day restricted license, meaning that they can go back and forth to work and school if necessary, and any kind of alcohol classes. That is just the straight 45-day work permit without the ignition interlock device.

If they blow .15 or higher, then they are facing either 90 days of no driving or one year with the ignition interlock. If they refuse to do the breath test, then they are facing 120 days of no driving or one year with the ignition interlock. If someone under 21 has a high BAC or refuses to blow into the Breathalyzer, it’s not going to make much of a difference for their driver’s license than if they were over 21. It’s only the situation in which they have a low BAC that the penalties for their driver’s license will be significantly different.