New Maryland laws double down on DUI penalties

On October 1st, 2015, several new laws went into effect in Maryland. These laws cover a variety of issues including drunk driving, criminal expungement, and child abuse.

Some of the more significant changes were the modifications made to Maryland’s Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws.”>The new DUI/DWI laws increase the severity of punishments across the board for drunk drivers, and especially for individuals convicted of repeat offenses.

The DUI laws also include new mandatory minimum penalties for drunk drivers involved in deadly accidents, assessed based on how drunk they are and if they have a previous impaired driving record.

  • Drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .08 and .14 will receive a six month license suspension and face up to a $1000 fine and a year in jail. Second-time offenders with a similar BAC will face the same penalties and incarceration time and lose their license for a full year.
  • If, on the other hand, the driver has a BAC of .15 or above, his or her license will be suspended for a year. And if it’s their second offense, driving privileges will be revoked for life.

According to attorney Ed Tayter, “the recent changes in Maryland’s DUI penalties reflect the state’s priorities to keep its residents and visitors safe on the roads. They are a manifestation of the presiding sentiment in judicial and prosecutorial circles—that endangering other drivers and pedestrians will not be tolerated in Maryland.”

Beyond harsher DUI penalties, legislators also passed protections for people with nonviolent misdemeanor criminal records. In the past, nonviolent criminals who had served their time and had clean records were at a severe disadvantage: “It really [hurt] them in terms of trying to find jobs, trying to find housing, even to get loans for school,” said Baltimore City Delegate Curt Anderson. Now, these individuals, if they maintain clean records for three years, will have their criminal history blocked from public view.

Anayah’s Law was passed, giving state social service agencies more power to protect children from abusive or neglectful parents. The law is named for Anayah Williams, a 21-month old girl who was beaten to death by her father after she was returned from state custody. Anayah’s Law augments a federal rule which states that social service agencies are required to try and reunite families. Now, the state can keep children in foster care if there is severe abuse or neglect by their biological parents.

These laws are now fully in effect for Maryland residents, as well as for those who are passing through or visiting the state.

One thought on “New Maryland laws double down on DUI penalties

  1. It’ll be interesting to see how they work over the long term. Harsher penalties have a reputation for not being very effective. Coming from a part of the country where DUI is endemic, such penalties haven’t been a rousing success.

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