In drunk-driving prosecution, accuracy is an important matter. One particular area where this is true is when it comes to determining a suspected drunk-driver’s blood alcohol concentration. In terms of drunk-driving penalties, the specific blood alcohol concentration a defendant is found to have had at the time of arrest can impact not only criminal penalties but also administrative penalties.
In Maryland, drunk-driving charges can be classified as either DUI or DWI depending on the driver’s blood alcohol content. When a driver has a blood-alcohol content between .07 and .08, the offense is considered to be driving while impaired. When the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is .08 or greater, he or she can be charged with driving under the influence, a more serious offense.
In terms of the evidence needed for conviction, a defendant’s blood alcohol concentration can also have an important impact. In cases where a motorist’s blood alcohol concentration is over .08, prosecutors can argue that the defendant was “under the influence per se.” In other words, prosecutors are able to secure a conviction as long as they are able to establish that the blood alcohol test was accurate. By contrast, when the blood alcohol content is less than .08, prosecutors usually have to use a variety of factors in the case to demonstrate intoxication, which can make it more difficult to convict, depending on the case.
Penalties associated with drunk-driving are dependent not only on a defendant’s criminal history, but also on his or her blood alcohol concentration. On the criminal side of a case, this can impact fines and jail time, and on the administrative side, it can impact the length of time his or her license is suspended as well as other administrative penalties.
In our next post we’ll continue this discussion, focusing particularly on the accuracy of blood alcohol testing in drunk-driving cases.