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Underage drinking and driving leads to severe penalties

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2023 | Criminal Law |

In Maryland, drunk driving is illegal. Likewise, it’s illegal in the state for minors under 21 to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. Minors who drive while drunk break both laws and can expect to face an extensive list of penalties for their violations.

Penalties for underage drinking and driving

If an officer catches an individual under 21 purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol, the underage individual faces a $500 fine for their first offense. The fine increases to $1,000 for the individual’s second or next offense. But this fine only covers underage drinking offenses; drunk minors caught driving could face added charges.

Drivers under 21 whose blood alcohol content (BAC) levels are .02% or higher will be subject to zero-tolerance laws. An officer can charge the underage driver with driving while under the influence of alcohol (DWI), which carries a maximum $500 fine and up to two months of jail time for the first offense if a court convicts the driver. Officials may also revoke the young driver’s license.

If the underage driver commits their second DWI offense, they can face a maximum fine of $500 and up to an entire year of imprisonment. Officials will also suspend the driver’s license for up to two years.

For a third offense, the underage driver must pay a fine of up to $3,000 and serve a maximum three-year prison sentence. Their license will also remain suspended for up to 12 months.

Added penalties

Drivers under 21 facing DWI charges might also have to deal with additional penalties based on how they came to purchase and consume alcohol. Minors who have a fake ID will face a $500 fine and a maximum two-month prison sentence. In addition, Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration will assess 12 points to the underage driver’s record, making them automatically eligible for license revocation.

Minor drivers charged with underage drinking and DWI must also participate in the ignition interlock program or face additional license suspension years. Suppose the underage driver is assigned to take part in the ignition interlock program for the second or subsequent time in five years. In that case, officials will adjust the ignition interlock period based on the number of times the driver previously participated.

Because underage drinking and driving lead to multiple penalties and convictions that stay on record, it’s advised that young drivers facing charges should challenge the accusations in court. The parents or guardians of these underage drivers should consider consulting with a legal professional to protect their children’s rights in court.

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