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DUI Laws to Understand Before Celebrating Fourth of July

Alcohol consumption can be excessive during Fourth of July celebrations, and choosing to drive home under the influence can result in severe consequences. Here, the legal experts at Murnane & O’Neill detail what can happen if you are charged with a DUI.

Fourth of July celebrations bring with them fireworks, parades, barbeques and picnics—many of which often involve alcohol. While there is nothing wrong with consuming adult beverages while celebrating the birth of our nation, what you choose to do after the celebration ends could have major consequences.

In years past, a significant percentage of DUI-related accidents occurred on the Fourth of July or during related celebrations, leading to serious property damage, injury and many fatalities. Beside these horrifying realities, a DUI charge leaves a driver with a tarnished record, significant fines and potential jail time, among other penalties. This Fourth of July, celebrate responsibly, and know the facts before you consider running the risk of getting a DUI.

Maryland Legislators Attempt to Prevent DUI-related Accidents Through Noah’s Law

In an attempt to curb DUI-related accidents, Maryland legislators enacted the Drunk Driving Reduction Act of 2016, known commonly as Noah’s Law. This law makes ignition interlock devices mandatory for all drivers convicted of a DUI, DWI while transporting a minor under 16, or homicide or life-threatening injury while driving under the influence. Connected to the steering wheel and ignition of a car, these devices require a driver to measure their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) before operating their vehicle. The driver will be prevented from starting the ignition if their BAC is above a predetermined level, and the ignition device will require you to measure your BAC throughout your drive. First-time offenders are required to participate in the program for six months—second and third-time offenders for a year and three years, respectively.

Noah’s Law has also raised the required periods of license suspension. If a first-time offender has a BAC of .08 or above, the offender’s license will be suspended for 180 days. For refusing a sobriety test, the license suspension period is 270 days.

DUI Checkpoints

DUI checkpoints were declared constitutional in 1990 by the Supreme Court when “properly conducted.” This means that public notice of a checkpoint is required before it can be established. Additionally, police must set up roadway signs warning a checkpoint is ahead. Drivers must always be given the opportunity to turn around when made aware of a checkpoint without fear of being pulled over, unless they commit a traffic offense in the process. If, while going through the checkpoint, an officer is given reason to believe a driver is under the influence, due to erratic behavior or other indication, they may ask the driver to submit to a sobriety test.

Failing a Sobriety Test

You may be asked to submit to both a field sobriety test in the form of a physical capabilities test, or a portable breathalyzer test. While refusing to submit to either test is legal, an Order or Suspension can be immediately issued to you if you refuse. If you submit to a test, and have a BAC higher than .08, you will be arrested, advised of your rights and asked to submit to a chemical BAC test to officially record your exact BAC.

A first-time DUI conviction means the potential of facing a $1,000 fine, up to one year in jail, 12 points on your driving record and a six-month suspension of your license. A second conviction doubles these punishments, but will still give you 12 points on your driving record.

Murnane & O’Neill’s Pledge to Maryland Drivers

At Murnane O’Neill, the safety of our clients is our utmost concern. We ask that no one chooses to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs this Fourth of July. However, a terrible mistake or temporary lapse in judgement does not leave one devoid of rights. At Murnane & O’Neill, we promise to fight for your right to a fair DUI trial. To acquire legal counsel, or for a consultation with an experienced DUI attorney, contact us today!