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Drunk driving is always a bad idea, and operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs puts the driver and many others in danger as well. Maryland has been working to reduce the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths that take place each year. In 1986, the state experienced its highest number of drunk driving-related deaths, at 407. That number has dropped and in 2008, Maryland had 186 drunk driving-related deaths. In the same year, about 26 percent of all traffic fatalities involved a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.
DUI Laws in Maryland
Maryland’s drunk driving laws prohibit anyone from operating a motorized vehicle with a .08% or higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The state has two different designations for drivers who are convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence. For a BAC that tests at .08 or higher, convicted drivers will receive a DUI. Drivers who have a BAC of .07 may be convicted of a DWI, or driving while intoxicated.
Every state in the U.S. considers .08 as the standard limit to measure a driver’s impairment by alcohol. Maryland lowers the limit for drivers who are under age to a .02 or higher BAC, and drivers who operate commercial vehicles may not drive legally if they have a BAC of .04 or higher.
Maryland upholds the implied consent law, which means that any driver who operates a vehicle on public roads implies his agreement to submit to chemical testing of his breath, blood or urine if requested to do so for reasonable cause by a law enforcement. Drivers who refuse to submit to testing are subject to penalties, including a possible license suspension of three months for the first refusal, and a mandatory suspension of one year for a second refusal.
DUI Penalties in Maryland
Drivers convicted of a DUI in Maryland may face a variety of serious fines and penalties. First DUI offenders receive from one to two years in jail, depending on whether a minor was present. A license suspension takes place for at least six months, and fines range from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on whether a minor was in the car. A DWI conviction carries similar fines and penalties, although less severe. A first DWI offender receives jail time from 2 to 6 months, also depending if a minor was in the vehicle; a suspension of driving privileges for at least six months, and fines from the $500-$1,000, depending if a minor was in the vehicle.
Second DUI offenders receive jail time from 2 to 3 years, depending on whether a minor was in the car. They will also receive a license suspension up to one year and possibly be order to install an interlock device in order to receive their driver’s license privileges back. Additionally, fines range from $2,000 to $3,000. Third and subsequent DUI convictions carry jail sentences from 3 to 4 years, a minimum 18- month license suspension and fines from $3,000 to $4,000.
How many DUI Accidents happen in Maryland?
In Maryland, almost 30 percent of all traffic fatalities each year are caused by drunk drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 162 traffic fatalities in 2009 involved at least one person with a blood alcohol content level over .08 – lower than the national average but still high enough to know that driving under the influence is extremely dangerous.
SR-22 Requirements in Maryland
SR-22 insurance is required for three years in Maryland. SR-22 insurance is actually a type of policy coverage that accompanies an SR-22 form. This form must be filed by your insurance company to verify that you are maintaining at least the state’s minimum liability insurance requirements. The SR-22 certificate is helpful since a driver with a suspended license may not be able to drive without an SR-22. The downside is that these drivers are placed into a higher-risk category and insurance premiums will most likely increase.
The SR-22 filing must be kept in force for the entire three years or the period required by the court. If the driver allows his insurance coverage to lapse, the insurance company is obligated to immediately notify the state’s department of motor vehicles. This results in the driver’s license being immediately suspended. In this situation, the driver can pay to have a new SR-22 form filed and start up a new insurance policy, but he must restart the three-year probation period over again, regardless of how much time was left.
Effects of a DUI on Car Insurance Premiums
Along with a DUI or DWI conviction come fines, penalties and a license suspension, not to mention the points that will go on the person’s driving record. Once a driver has been convicted of a DUI, car insurance companies place them in a high-risk driver category, which immediately raises premiums. Additionally, a DUI stays on your record forever in Maryland, so chances are your insurance rates will be affected for a few years to come. After a few years, if drivers keep their driving record clean, the DUI will become much less of a factor in insurance costs.
Maryland Car Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
Finding car insurance has gotten much easier these days, thanks to the internet. Many insurance companies offer free online quotes, and the best way to find low prices on car insurance is to shop around. Each insurance company will evaluate you and your circumstances differently, so prices may actually vary quite a bit between companies. Also, be sure to request quotes from companies that specialize in providing high risk coverage such as the General Car Insurance or Progressive Insurance who both usually offer affordable prices on insurance for drivers with less-than-perfect records.
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