Zero Tolerance for DUI in Maryland: .08 breath alcohol is NOT the limit
A common misconception is that the legal alcohol limit for a DUI in Maryland is a .08 BAC. Most people believe that if you blow below a .08 then you are home free. Maryland is actually a zero tolerance state. This means that any amount of alcohol in your system can and will trigger DUI and DWI charges. Unfortunately, Maryland continues to broadcast this misinformation to the public and our clients continue to be amazed when we explain a .03-.05 is enough, under certain circumstances, to result in a driving while impaired charge.
This misconception has been an issue for years. Maryland, along with most states continues to run campaigns saying .08 is the limit, however it isn’t. A lower BAC number is just as damming as a .08. The only difference is that if you did spectacularly on the field sobriety tests you can attack the notion of impairment unlike a .08. .08 is Per Se impairment, this means that the defense cannot argue (or will be completely ineffective if they do) that the driver was not impaired by the .08. At a .07 the presumption is that the driver is impaired. The defense will have to overcome this presumption through evidence and through testimony.
An alcohol breath resulting in .06 bears no legal presumption you can and will still be charged with DUI as the police will not miss an opportunity to meet their monthly quota. The Judge or jury will decide when looking at the totality of the circumstances whether the driver was actually impaired. So a guilty finding is still fairly easy for the state to obtain with a .06 BAC (breath alcohol content).
The tide doesn’t turn for a person charged with a DUI until the number is at or below a .05. The presumption is that if someone blows a .05 they are not impaired. A person can be charged with and found guilty of a dui even at a .05 if the state can prove that the defendant was “impaired to the slightest degree.” They would do this by using the defendant’s own admissions to drinking and the field sobriety tests to overcome the favorable presumption.
You can still be charged with a dui from .04 on down as well. The Defendant may enjoy the benefit of a favorable legal presumption but the state may attempt to overcome that if there are bad facts such as an accident or a poor acting defendant. Unfortunately, trials is this grey area can be risky depending on who the judge is. Many judges are fair in their consideration of the facts, but some judges are completely one sided and are largely unable to utter the words “not guilty.”
As a matter of fact just yesterday I tried a .02 DUI. They knew my client blew a .02 and still booked and charged him. The prosecutor tried the case knowing my client blew a .02. She attempted to argue that my client’s fields were bad and his admission to drinking earlier in the night were proof that he was guilty of DWI. We won at trial on the DUI counts but he still had to hire an attorney and fight the charges.
Knowing the law can save you a lot of money and time. It isn’t a good idea to drink anything and drive because even blowing a low number can have you not only in court but possibly being found guilty. If you find yourself in this difficult position, then call an experienced DUI attorney who is not afraid to try the case. The experienced trial attorneys at Robinson and Associates will be able to help you through the process.