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Driving while intoxicated, or DWI, is severely penalized in Maryland.

Does the age of the driver matter? In most states, yes. Intoxicated drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 may face harsher penalties than drivers who are of age. Here’s what you need to know. 

Maryland Underage DWI Laws 

Maryland has a “zero-tolerance” policy for underage drinking and driving. What this means is that if a minor is stopped on suspicion of DWI and has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% or greater, they may be arrested and charged with a crime. 

Penalties for Underage DWIs 

The penalties for an underage DWI may be harsher for minors than they would be an adult for the same offense. This includes jail time, fines, probation, community service, and other legal consequences. 

For example, if a person over 21 was arrested for DWI and had a 0.089% BAC, they may be more likely to receive a lighter punishment if convicted, because it wasn’t much over the legal limit of 0.08%. However, if a 17 year-old driver was pulled over and had a BAC of 0.089%, the chances are higher that their penalty will be harsher because there is a greater gap between the legal limit for minor drivers of 0.02%.   

How to Defend Against a Minor DWI 

Defending against a minor DWI is similar to how you might defend a DWI charge for a driver over the age of 21. For example, you may be able to argue that: 

  • The police officer had no legal right to stop the driver in the first place. 
  • The police did not follow proper protocol when testing BAC or performing field sobriety tests.
  • The driver has a medical condition that affects breathalyzer testing, such as acid reflux. 
  • The driver has a medical condition that affects their ability to perform well on field sobriety tests, such as a physical injury that prevents them from standing on one leg.
  • The minor was interrogated by police inappropriately or without being afforded the opportunity to contact their guardian or an attorney. 

Charged with an Underage DWI? Reach Out Today 

If you are under the age of 21 and were charged with a DWI, or you’re the parent of a minor charged with a DWI, it’s important to get legal help right away. Contact Maryland criminal defense & DWI lawyer Richard Brueckner today for a consultation at 410-430-1464.

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