Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Representing Clients Facing DUID Charges in Maryland

DUID lawyer in Maryland

Maryland law prohibits driving under the influence (DUI), whether it is the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs. When police officers suspect you are driving under the influence of drugs (DUID), the resulting criminal case can be complicated with a lot at stake. A conviction for DUID can mean serious and lasting consequences, so you need the right DUI defense attorney protecting your rights.

DUID Arrests and Charges

The Maryland DUI statute makes it unlawful for anyone to operate a motor vehicle when any substance may impair their ability to drive in a safe manner. “Any substance” can refer to alcoholic beverages or any mind-altering drugs. Importantly, drugs do not have to be controlled substances or illegally possessed to lead to a DUID arrest and charge. If your prescription medications impact your cognitive or physical abilities, you can still be subject to an arrest even if you had a completely valid prescription. The same applies if you have a medical marijuana card, as this card does not give you permission to drive after using marijuana products that affect your abilities.

When an officer pulls you over and suspects you may be under the influence of drugs, they will try to get probable cause to arrest you for DUID. This may include:

  • Observations of drug use, including the smell of marijuana in the vehicle
  • Drugs in plain view when officers approached the vehicle
  • Signs of intoxication, including slurred speech, delayed reactions, bloodshot eyes, and more
  • Poor performance on field sobriety tests

Unlike drunk driving, there is no clear limit for when the law presumes a person is intoxicated. If a breath test shows that a driver has a blood alcohol content over 0.08 percent, officers can assume they are impaired and arrest them. While there is currently no roadside breath test available to test for drug use, if officers have other reasons to justify an arrest, they can ask you to submit to a urine or blood test at the police station. However, there is no specific limit for drugs in your system, so prosecutors have wide discretion when deciding when to issue charges, often depending on police reports and officer observations to prove you were under the influence of drugs.

Because this type of case can be quite different than an alcohol-related DUI case, you need an attorney who has experience defending against drug-related DUI charges.

Possible Penalties for Drugged Driving

A conviction for DUID can come with serious penalties, just like an alcohol-related DUI conviction. The penalties you face will depend on the circumstances of your case, including whether you were under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance or a prescription drug, whether you had a minor in the car, whether an accident happened, or whether you have prior DUI convictions.

Some possible penalties for a first offense DUID can include:

  • Two months to one year in jail
  • Fines from $500 to $1,000
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 45 days
  • Drug and alcohol education program
  • If a minor was in the car, up to two years in prison and a $2,000 fine

The penalties can increase substantially if for subsequent offenses within five years or if someone suffered bodily injury or death in a crash.

In many situations, our skilled defense lawyers can get clients probation instead of time in jail. However, a conviction can still result in a mark on your permanent criminal record. This can have many consequences for years to come, including:

  • Suspension or revocation of a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Ineligibility for jobs that require a clean driving record
  • Difficulty getting hired if a prospective employer conducts a criminal background check
  • Trouble with professional licensing boards
  • Disqualification from collegiate athletic programs, which could lead to the loss of a scholarship
  • Significant increases in insurance premiums
  • Immigration issues and travel restrictions
  • More severe penalties for any future criminal convictions

It is always better to avoid a conviction when you can, rather than just pleading guilty to your charges. Our attorneys can advise you of the possible benefits and drawbacks of pleading guilty to ensure you make an educated decision in your case.

Defenses in DUID Cases

The most common defense in DUID cases is that you were not impaired by drugs while you were driving. Even if a test shows you have marijuana in your system, it could be from use hours or even days before. Just having the drug in your system does not mean that you were very recently using cannabis.

Was there another explanation for an officer’s observations of impairment? Were you fatigued or sick? Was there a valid reason for the traffic stop? Did officers follow appropriate protocol when conducting field sobriety tests or processing chemical samples? These are all questions we evaluate when identifying possible defenses in each DUID case.

Accompanying Drug Charges

Often, when officers believe you are under the influence of drugs, they will want to search the vehicle to see if you possessed illegal substances. If you do not consent to a search, officers do not have the right to simply search your entire vehicle. In many situations, a vehicle search that uncovers illegal drugs may violate your Fourth Amendment rights. We can use this violation to request that the court suppresses any drug evidence, which can often result in prosecutors dropping any drug possession charges. You want a defense lawyer with the skill to fight not only your DUID charges but also any accompanying drug possession charges.