Halloween parties are known to be among the social highlights of the year. However, Halloween is also known for a statistical rise in DUI/DWI charges that often result from people leaving the aforementioned Halloween parties. Halloween is an exceptionally dangerous time to drink and drive. Not only are police officers on an increased lookout, but streets are filled with pedestrians and trick-or-treaters. The mistake of drinking and driving is far too often turned into tragedy as a result.
It is important to understand how the law breaks down for drinking and driving. Many people consider themselves capable drinkers, and like to think that they can casually consume alcohol and still register beneath the legal limit. However, it is much easier than some people would imagine to be in violation of the law.
There are technically three drinking and driving offenses in Maryland. The charges known as Driving Under the Influence, Driving While Impaired and Driving Under the Influence Per Se are commonly referred to as DUI and DWI. Per se simply means that the driver took a breathalyzer, and blew over the legal limit. These three charges all result in different, yet serious legal consequences.
Height, weight, age, and gender determine how fast a body metabolizes alcohol. All of these factors, combined with the amount the person has drunk, make up the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The legal consequences for drinking and driving are typically based on a person’s BAC.
Regular drinkers may develop tolerance to the effects of alcohol. But, alcohol tolerance is deceptive. The ability to adapt to the effects of alcohol has no bearing on the actual BAC. For this reason, a regular drinker may not feel under the influence, but their BAC may well exceed the legal limit.
The legal BAC limit is widely understood by most drivers to be 0.08. Most drivers presume that any BAC under .08 is legal. After all, it is a limit. This isn’t entirely true. Someone with a BAC of 0.07 may still be charged. This is because there is a presumption that someone driving with a BAC of 0.07 is driving while impaired.
A DUI charge is a more serious offense, and it is typically levied against drivers whose BAC is 0.08 or above. The DUI and DWI charges are outlined in the Annotated Code of Maryland in Transportation Article Section-902 B and 902 A.
Additional helpful resources are available at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Impaired
For more information about Maryland’s drinking and driving charges, please contact Andrew Alperstein at Alperstein & Diener, LLC.