New Maryland Law Creates Harsher Punishments for Drunk Drivers Who Kill or Maim Others

Advocates say they updated law creates “serious consequences for a serious crime.”

Towson, MD – Intoxicated drivers or watercraft operators in Maryland will face harsher penalties starting October 1 for killing another person starting while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The “Repeat Drunk Driving Offenders Act” increases the severity of jail time and fines across the board for first time DUI offenders, repeat offenders, and drivers causing death or life threatening injuries while driving intoxicated.

Driving under the influence is defined in Maryland as having a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher while operating a motor vehicle.

Jeanette Tejeda de Gomez of AAA Mid-Atlantic said the new laws apply to both operators of land vehicles and boats.

“If you’re driving a boat or driving a vehicle, you’re still putting lives at risk,” she said.

Previously, zero to five years was the approximate sentence in Maryland for offenders convicted of traffic crashes deaths caused by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The new law has created a stronger “three strikes” penalty for DUI offenders, and has implemented stronger maximum penalties (10 years and/or $10,000 fine) for drivers convicted of drunk or drugged driving three or more times, increased penalty to five years prison time for a driver’s first conviction of vehicular homicide (including watercraft), and doubling maximum prison sentences for drivers convicted of driving under the influence while transporting minors.

“Somebody’s who caught for drunk driving; that’s not the first time they’ve been caught drinking while driving,” Tejeda de Gomez said. “That’s usually a sign they’ve been driving so many more times, and that’s just the first time they’ve been caught.”

There were 188 fatalities and 3,200 injuries in 2017 caused by crashes involving drunk and drugged drivers in the state of Maryland.

By Timothy Young