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Maryland DUI: What Happens When a Minor is in the Car?


Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense with potentially severe consequences. However, the situation becomes even more complicated when a minor (a person under 18) is in the vehicle.

In Maryland, laws and penalties surrounding DUIs with minors are strict, aiming to protect the well-being and safety of children. This article delves into the specific laws, legal implications, and potential consequences of a DUI offense involving a minor in Maryland.

Maryland’s DUI Laws and the Presence of a Minor

In Maryland, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08% for drivers aged 21 and over. However, the state has stricter regulations regarding DUI offenses involving minors. If a driver is found to have a BAC of 0.08% or higher and a minor under the age of 18 is present in the vehicle, they can face enhanced penalties and charges.

Under Maryland law, a DUI offense with a minor passenger falls under “Driving While Impaired by Alcohol While Transporting a Minor.” This offense carries severe legal consequences due to the potential harm posed to the well-being and safety of a child.

Many believe that if they blow under the legal limit, they are safe from a DUI or DWI charge. This is incorrect. Even if your BAC is .07, the state can determine that you were impaired and charge you with a DWI. A BAC of under .05 would indicate that you were not impaired.

Consequences for a DUI with a Minor in the Car

The penalties and consequences can significantly impact various aspects of a person’s life when charged with a DUI involving a minor. These consequences may include:

  • Criminal Charges — A DUI offense with a minor in the car is considered a misdemeanor crime in Maryland. Offenders may face criminal charges, resulting in a permanent criminal record.
  • License Suspension — The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) has the authority to suspend the offender’s driver’s license. The duration of the suspension can vary depending on the case’s specific circumstances, but it is typically longer than for a standard DUI offense.
  • Fines and Court Costs — Offenders can expect substantial fines and court costs associated with a DUI offense. The exact amount depends on factors such as prior convictions and the severity of the offense.
  • Incarceration — Jail time is a possible consequence of a DUI offense with a minor. The duration of the sentence depends on various factors, including prior convictions and aggravating circumstances.
  • Ignition Interlock Device — In many cases, Maryland courts require individuals convicted of DUI offenses to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicles. This device measures the driver’s BAC before starting the vehicle, ensuring sobriety.
  • Probation and Alcohol Education Programs — Offenders may be placed on probation and required to complete alcohol education or treatment programs as part of their sentencing.
  • Attend Victim Impact Panels — Offenders may be required to attend a victim impact panel. Here they will hear from people whose lives have been affected by drunk driving.

Child Endangerment Charges and Their Impact

A DUI offense with a minor in the car can also lead to separate charges of child endangerment. Maryland law considers the act of driving under the influence with a child in the vehicle as endangering the welfare of a minor, a separate offense from DUI. Child endangerment charges can result in additional penalties, including fines and potential imprisonment, further compounding the legal consequences for the offender.

Long-Term Consequences and Impact on Parental Rights

Aside from the immediate penalties, a DUI offense with a minor can have long-lasting repercussions, especially concerning parental rights. The presence of a child in a vehicle during a DUI offense can raise concerns regarding the offender’s ability to provide a safe and secure environment for their child. Family court judges may consider these circumstances when deciding child custody and visitation rights.

Trust Jeremy Widder Law When Facing DUI Charges

In Maryland, the laws and penalties associated with DUI offenses involving minors aim to safeguard children and hold offenders accountable. Understanding these laws and the potential consequences is crucial for raising awareness and promoting responsible driving habits, ultimately ensuring the well-being and safety of our most vulnerable passengers.

Being arrested for a DUI/DWI with a minor in the car can be stressful. If you’ve been charged with a DUI with a minor in the vehicle, you need to enlist the services of an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.

The team at Jeremy Widder Law is ready to help. We will help you fully understand the charges you are facing and their potential consequences. We will walk with you throughout the process and give your case the attention it deserves. We are ready to dedicate time, resources, and energy to support you from start to finish.
Let us help protect your rights and future. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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