Drunk driving is a problem every state has to deal with, though states use different approaches in addressing the issue. Different states assign different criminal and administrative penalties for offenders, and use different enforcement tools. Naturally, some states take a stricter approach than others.
A survey of state DUI laws was recently published by WalletHub which ranked Maryland near the bottom of the list in terms of how strictly it addresses the problem of drunk driving. In fact, the state came in as having the most lenient criminal penalties in the nation. That number was based on several factors, including: minimum jail time for first and second offenses; when a DUI charge is considered a felony; the length of time a previous DUI can be factored into penalties for a new DUI; whether additional penalties are assigned for a high blood alcohol content; minimum fines; and whether there are additional penalties for child endangerment.
The survey also ranked states according to how strict or proactive they are in preventing DUI. This category includes factors like: mandatory use of ignition interlock devices and the length of time the devices are used; pre-conviction license suspension; mandatory alcohol abuse assessments and treatment; vehicle impoundment; use of “no-refusal” efforts; and sobriety checkpoints. In this area, Maryland ranked at 32, putting it in the lower 50 percent.
Overall, Maryland ranked at number 47. In our next post, we’ll look at some of the detailed findings of the study, and offer some brief comments on the study from a criminal defense angle.