Are there DUI charges in Maryland that are felonies?

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Answered by: Andrew D. Alpert

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Maryland does have felony charges that involve driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). Two situations may turn your DUI into a felony charge. Those charges both include cases where someone dies, and the police charge you with either manslaughter by vehicle or homicide by vehicle. The statutes are located in § 2-504 and § 2-505 of Maryland state code.

In the past, the prosecutor had to show gross negligence to obtain a felony conviction for vehicular manslaughter, but the legislature changed the laws to do away with that requirement if you drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. More people are now subject to felony DUI charges.

If you are in this situation, you face many challenges. Although you never set out to hurt anyone, now you are being charged with taking a life. Such accusations can change your own life and put your entire future at risk. You should never face felony charges alone. You want an experienced DUI defense attorney by your side every step of the way. 

You May Face Serious Consequences For Your First Felony DUI

The penalties for your first felony DUI are serious. The maximum penalties for felony charges in Maryland include up to three years in prison and a fine of $5,000 for your first offense. Your second offense could bring you up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. In addition, your driver’s license could be suspended, and you may have to complete drug or alcohol treatment.

The court may also order you to use an ignition interlock device. This device requires you to blow into it before the car will start. If the device detects alcohol, your car will not start. You may have to use the device for six months for your first offense.  

Serious Misdemeanors May Carry Jail Time

If you seriously or permanently injure another person in an accident while driving under the influence, you could face a serious misdemeanor. Courts take these cases very seriously and even though you do not face felony charges, you may end up with six months to a year in jail.

If someone dies, but you manage to avoid a vehicular homicide or felony vehicular manslaughter charge, you could still face a serious misdemeanor manslaughter charge of criminally negligent manslaughter by vehicle. That means you should have known something bad could have happened from your negligent actions, but you did not.   

Penalties Will Continue To Increase

Although penalties for a first offense may seem harsh, penalties for subsequent charges will only get worse for either felony DUI or serious misdemeanors. You may find more and more rights and privileges taken away from you.

You will also face consequences outside of the courtroom. You may lose driving privileges, face problems with employment or even lose your job. Criminal charges stay on your criminal record. That is why you must take every DUI charge seriously and hire an experienced attorney to fight for your future.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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