Bill would give Maryland tougher laws against drunk driving

Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill that would make repeat DUI a felony offense in the state.

When it comes to drunk driving laws, Maryland's tend to be better than most states in the country. In its recent report, MADD gave Maryland high marks for its legislative and enforcement efforts against drunk driving, pointing out that its ignition interlock law in particular has become a model for other states to follow. However, in one important regard Maryland's DUI laws are severely lacking. Unlike almost every other state in the nation, Maryland has no felony DUI law for repeat offenders. A bill that aims to reduce the number of drunk driving car accidents in the state, however, is trying to change that.

No felony DUI law

As The Bay Net reports, Maryland is one of just three states plus the District of Columbia that doesn't have a felony DUI law. That means that regardless of whether a person gets arrested for their second or their tenth DUI, they still face the same maximum penalty, which is currently three years in jail. In most states, only the first and second DUI convictions are counted as misdemeanors, while subsequent charges are usually counted as much more serious felonies.

That situation, however, may soon change in Maryland. A bill has been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly that would make the fourth and all subsequent DUI convictions felonies. In effect, because almost every first DUI offense is counted as a probation in Maryland and not a conviction, that means that if the bill passes a person would be charged with a felony DUI on their fifth conviction. While supporters of the bill call it a "no-brainer," they also note that a similar proposal last year failed to make it to the floor for a vote.

Dangers of repeat offenders

If this bill does go through, it would bring Maryland's DUI laws in line with most of the rest of the country and also send a message to drivers that there are serious consequences for choosing to drive drunk. Repeat offenders are especially dangerous to the wider public and by one estimate the average drunk driver has driven intoxicated about 80 times before they have finally been arrested.

While most people know how serious drunk driving is, many people still choose to engage in this reckless behavior anyway . For example, in 2017 there were 7,100 DUI-related crashes in Maryland alone, leading to 116 fatalities. DUI accidents are so prevalent that about two-thirds of all drivers will be involved in one at some point in their lifetimes.

Personal injury law

Drunk and other types of dangerous drivers pose a threat to motorists throughout Maryland. For anybody who has been hurt in an accident, it is important to reach out to a personal injury attorney right away. An experienced attorney can assist accident victims in a number of ways, especially if their accident may have been caused by another driver's alleged illegal or reckless behavior.