Driving under the influence of drugs is a serious offense in Maryland, and it extends beyond just alcohol and illicit substances. In recent years, there has been a growing concern regarding the impact of prescription drugs on driving abilities. As a result, law enforcement agencies in Maryland are actively working to combat prescription drug DUI, and strict penalties are in place to deter individuals from engaging in this risky behavior.
Awareness of the laws and consequences can create safer roads and a more responsible driving culture in our state. In this article, we will delve into the details of these laws, explore the potential consequences, and discuss the importance of responsible medication use while driving.
Understanding Prescription Drug DUI in Maryland
Maryland law considers driving under the influence of prescription drugs as equally dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs. In addition, the state recognizes that certain medications can impair a person’s ability to drive safely, affecting their motor skills, judgment, and reaction time. Therefore, individuals must understand that even though they may have a valid prescription for a medication, it does not grant them immunity from DUI charges if they are impaired while operating a vehicle.
Prohibited Substances and Legal Limits in Maryland
Under Maryland law, any prescription drug that can potentially impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely is considered a prohibited substance. This includes medications that contain opioids, benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants, sleep aids, and other drugs that may cause drowsiness or alter cognitive function.
Unlike alcohol, which has a legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08%, Maryland does not have a specific legal limit for prescription drugs. Instead, the focus is on impairment. Suppose a law enforcement officer believes that a prescription drug impairs a driver. In that case, they can conduct field sobriety tests, observe the driver’s behavior, and request a blood or urine test to detect the presence of drugs in their system.
Types of Impairment
There are two main types of drugged driving laws in Maryland.
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) — You can be convinced of DUID if you are so impaired that you cannot safely operate a vehicle. Having a prescription and being legally entitled to use the drug cannot be used as a defense against the DUID charges.
- Driving While Impaired by Drugs (DWID) — The level of impairment needed to secure a DWID conviction is easier to prove than DUID. For a DWID, the prosecution must only demonstrate that the driver’s regular coordination was somewhat impaired. However, a DWID conviction can only be obtained if the driver consumed illegal drugs categorized as controlled substances. This list encompasses substances like marijuana, prescription painkillers, and certain street drugs. Unlike a DUID charge, having a valid prescription is a legal defense against a DWID charge.
Consequences of Prescription Drug DUI in Maryland
The penalties for a prescription drug DUI in Maryland are similar to those for alcohol or illicit drug-related DUI offenses. The severity of the consequences depends on factors such as the individual’s prior record and aggravating circumstances. Here are the potential consequences:
- License Suspension — A first offense can result in a driver’s license suspension for up to 180 days, while subsequent offenses can lead to longer suspensions.
- Fines — Individuals convicted of prescription drug DUI may face substantial fines. Fines can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
- Jail Time — Depending on the circumstances, a conviction for a prescription drug DUI can result in jail time. The duration of imprisonment increases for repeat offenses.
- Probation — The court may impose probation, requiring regular check-ins, mandatory drug counseling, and random drug testing.
Let Jeremy Widder Law Help Fight Your Prescription Drug DUI Charge
Driving under the influence of prescription drugs is a serious offense with significant consequences in Maryland. It’s crucial for individuals taking prescription medications to understand the potential side effects and consult their healthcare provider regarding the impact on driving abilities. Responsible medication use is essential to ensure the safety of oneself and others on the road.
If you are taking prescription drugs and are unsure about their effects on your driving ability, err on the side of caution and refrain from driving until you are confident in your capabilities. Instead, rely on alternative transportation methods such as public transportation, ride-sharing services, or asking a sober friend for a ride. However, if you’ve received a DUID or DWID, having an experienced attorney on your side is essential.
Jeremy Widder Law has represented hundreds of clients facing various offenses. We know that facing criminal charges can be stressful, and you need someone who will be on your side and walk you through the process. Our expert team will be by your side from start to finish and give your case the attention it deserves. Our goal is to ease your concern and advocate for you.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.