Dignity, Respect
& Justice

Harsher penalties for DUI with a minor in the vehicle

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2022 | Drunk Driving |

Getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs can have severe consequences in Maryland, and the penalties are even harsher for offenders who transport minors while under the influence. Almost every state has a law on its books that stiffens the penalties for drunk drivers who are caught with children in their vehicles, but Maryland only recently joined their ranks.

House Bill 711

The question of increasing penalties for impaired driving offenders who transport minors was put before lawmakers with the introduction of House Bill 711 in February 2018. The provisions of the bill can now be found in Section 21 of the Maryland Transportation Code, and they increase the maximum penalty for DWI with a child in the vehicle by one year. First offenders now face two years behind bars instead of one, and repeat offenders can be sent to jail for up to three years instead of two. These sentences could be reduced if there are mitigating factors that are raised in the DUI defense strategy that paint the offender’s actions in a more positive light.

Bill backed by former ER doctor

One of the bill’s co-sponsors was a former emergency room doctor. When reporters asked him why he supported the proposed legislation, he told them about an evening he spent trying to revive two young children who were exposed to icy water when the car they were traveling in crashed into a lake. Their parents were both intoxicated at the time. Passage of the bill made Maryland the 48th state to introduce harsher penalties for drunk drivers who transport minors.

Plea agreements and sentencing concessions

DUI offenders rarely receive the maximum sentence allowed by law because these cases are usually resolved by plea agreements. Prosecutors offer more lenient sentences to avoid the costs and risks of taking the case to trial, and offenders accept their offers to spend less time behind bars or avoid jail completely.