If you’re a teenager residing in Maryland, it pays to be extremely cautious when you’re considering getting behind the wheel after even a single drink. The law has stringent rules for driving under the influence (DUI) and for underage drinking. A combination of the two offenses can lead to long-term effects on your life as the result of underage DUI laws in Maryland’s severe penalties. Here are some of the critical lessons every teen should keep in mind. 
  1. Maryland Has Zero-Tolerance DUI Laws for Young People

For people of legal drinking age, it’s still illegal to operate a car if your BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) is at or above 0.08%. 

Since teens are not permitted to drink, a BAC as low as 0.02% can result in charges and the revocation of driving privileges. A singular alcoholic drink is enough to raise BAC above this level for most people.

Even at this low level of impairment, judgment on the road is hampered. Drivers who have been drinking pose a risk to themselves, other people, and property. If a law enforcement officer stops you and suspects that you’ve been drinking due to your behavior or any odors, they can ask you to submit to field sobriety testing. 

Typically, this involves exhaling into a device that estimates intoxication by detecting alcohol particles. Chewing gum or drinking water in advance won’t fool the machine. The alcohol that it identifies comes from deeper in your body. 

  1. Depending on Your Age and Alcohol Levels, Criminal Charges Can Apply

If the BAC is 0.08% or higher, the case is tried like a criminal offense. Don’t represent yourself in court, find a Laurel criminal defense attorney. Even adults need an expert’s guidance to put their best foot forward in the legal system. 

In Maryland, if the defendant is ages 18 through 20, the case is still tried in a criminal court similar to any other DUI. Underage DUI Laws in Maryland for minors under 21 years are the same as adult offenders, and you’ll face the penalties like an adult. You’ll also face administrative action from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). 

If the minor is below 18 years, the case is diverted to a juvenile court. 

  1. The MVA Has Administrative Jurisdiction on DUIs

Every DUI case in Maryland is sent to the district court for your county. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration has the power to suspend the offender’s driver’s license, and may do so. 

The installation of an Ignition Interlock Device could also be ordered. This device is installed in your car and requires a breath test every time that you try to start the engine. If it senses alcohol, the vehicle will not start.

The most severe penalty is a jail sentence, and typically, presenting a defense for high BAC levels is extremely hard. That’s because a sobriety test can prove beyond doubt that the accused is guilty of the offense and put people at great risk by choosing to drive. 

The bottom line is that when the law gives a driver’s license to a minor under age 21, it is assuming that they will never have alcohol in their systems when they are driving. 

  1. Every State Has Specific Underage DUI Laws

Remember that each state has its laws for a DUI. The location of the crime dictates the state in which the charges will be addressed.

Residents of Maryland arrested for DUI offenses in, say, Daytona Beach, Florida, will have to get representation from a Daytona Beach criminal lawyer. You’ll be tried under Florida law and need legal council from someone licensed to operate in Florida. 

Interstate information sharing agreements like the Driver License Compact and the Non-Resident Violators Compact can complicate the situation. That’s because the participating states share details about any traffic violations in their jurisdictions and work together to enforce penalties. 

To go with the earlier example, incurring DUI penalties in Florida could also result in Maryland enforcing the punishments. If you failed to appear in court for the Florida offense, the authorities would issue a warrant arrest. Plus, Florida courts would convey the infraction to Maryland and suspend your state-issued driver’s license. 

Getting penalties for underage DUI in Maryland can affect a teen’s future. This conviction can stay on a permanent record. In addition to the previously mentioned fines, points on your driver’s license, and jail time, offenders may have to complete community service and anti-alcohol counseling hours. 

The convenience of driving after drinking isn’t worth the risk. It’s best to avoid drinking underage entirely, but if you do consume alcohol, be smart. Make sure that you have a safe place to stay the night or that a completely sober driver can get you home.